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Subject: 5 Player - Not So Good rss

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Dave P
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McKinney
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We tried Crisis at BGGCon as a 5 player.

None of us had played, so we (obviously) treated this as a learning game.

A few observations:

1. Unless we missed something, the board does not scale up (or down) based on the number of players. So getting blocked out of foreign labor (for example) caused serious problems. It seems like the board needs to account for 5 players, say versus when you play with only 3. Did we miss a rule that changes with more players?

2. Really bad lack of catch up. If you start out with the wrong investments, you are VERY screwed and can't catch back up. The leader pretty much ran away with the game (we played on the easiest mode) by guessing right in the first turn!

3. I know the argument here is "well, don't pick the wrong investments" or "don't let someone get out ahead of you" but that doesn't make for a very fun experience for new players and (I think) hurts getting this back out to the table (i.e. Seafall) whistle

We all basically felt this might have been rushed to market from a 5-player play testing point of view. The mechanics and concepts seem pretty cool and I'm willing to try it again with maybe 3 players, but my initial reaction after 1 whole game is I wouldn't play this EVER again as a 5 player without some adjustments and maybe a catch-up mechanic.

If its intended to allow the leader to run away, I will probably not play this again as its a personal choice to avoid games like this. I am kinda regretting KS'ing it...

-Dave

P.S. Ugh - how can I move this to the Reviews forum???
 
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Pantelis Bouboulis
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Hi Dave!

It is true that the board doesn't scale down or up according to the number of players. We did this on purpose, so that the set up is easier. Nevertheless, you can see from the rules that there are other austerity plans for 2, 3, 4 or 5 players. So instead of "changing" the board, we changed the austerity plans. We believe that this is equivalent.

It is true that an increasing number of players means that there are fewer places available, however, with lower austerity goals the objectives are easier to accomplish. Of course, this is our opinion, we may be wrong (although we tested the game for more than 3 years). I have to say though that the more the players, the more difficult the game becomes (for first time players).

Some general comments:
Crisis is not an easy game. If you don't understand the mechanics and make bad decisions (especially in the first rounds), then you 'll probably lose badly. You have to adapt your strategy to what you can get on the board. For example, if you buy a farm and there is only one farmer available, then you risk not to operate the farm in the same round. This is not necessarily bad. You may be able to get a better production in the following round.

Also, keep in mind that there are a lot of options for taking employees. Besides the employees section, there are the foreign employees and the temp employee. So it is difficult to not get the employee you need badly (unless the players block each other out).

Another common mistake is that many first time players tend to buy a lot of buildings. It is better to buy only a handfull of buildings and use as many employees as possible. For example, if in the first round, you buy a farm that requires a farmer (necessary employee) and there are no farmers available, you may choose to get a worker (to use later as a bonus), buy energy, get a loan, take the leadership or the initiative, e.t.c., so that you will be able to operate the building in the next round (and get better production). I usually do not operate buildings with only one necessary employee on them (unless it is critical).

In general, you have to decide what production chain you want to build (e.g. farms+resorts, mines+industries, e.t.c.) from the start. If you buy one building in the first round, fail to operate this and then get another building in the next round with the hope that you will find some good employees, you will probably fail. Crisis is not a game of luck.
You may also decide that the available buildings (in the first round) are not good for you and stick to only getting employees, loans, e.t.c., so that to be prepared for the next rounds.

I hope that this guidelines will help you in your future games. I encourage you to play again with 4 or 5 players.

Pantelis
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Dave P
United States
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Thanks for the reply.

It'll be interesting to see if my thoughts are consistent with others as the game makes it onto more tables.

One other thing we wished for that I think would have made game play more satisfying (and dare I say fun) is the ability to chain buildings on the same turn.

Producing, only to put in the warehouse, and not allowing the output as input for the next building, did not sit well with many of us - it was kind of an emotional drag as we got 3 and 4 buildings made.

Not sure the balance impact of this, but "not very satisfying" was the feeling we got because of this - especially buildings that made energy. Storing energy in a warehouse and NOT being able to use it immediately?

-Dave
 
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Benji
Switzerland
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tivowatcher wrote:
Thanks for the reply.

It'll be interesting to see if my thoughts are consistent with others as the game makes it onto more tables.

One other thing we wished for that I think would have made game play more satisfying (and dare I say fun) is the ability to chain buildings on the same turn.


This would absolutely influence the balance and make the game way too easy (i know because i played my first game that way).


tivowatcher wrote:

Producing, only to put in the warehouse, and not allowing the output as input for the next building, did not sit well with many of us - it was kind of an emotional drag as we got 3 and 4 buildings made.


Others see it as a challenge. Because you really need to plan ahead. In my (our) opinion, it is much better than your alternative. While you can't use the products immediately, you can still set up production chains, you just have to plan for the 1-turn-lag.

tivowatcher wrote:

Not sure the balance impact of this, but "not very satisfying" was the feeling we got because of this - especially buildings that made energy. Storing energy in a warehouse and NOT being able to use it immediately?


I agree that energy is a special case. But the other products need to be produced and shipped before you can use them, so it makes more sense.

I have played solo, 2 player and 4 player games (no 5 player), and i agree that the character of the game changes with player count. But the austerity goals seemed "fair" in that they adjust just enough while still providing a challenge. Love the game, and so did all my opponents (up to now).
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Ludwig Seitz
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My Experiences with the game at different player counts is that it changes the priorities a lot.

With 3 players the limiting factor is your actions, so one priority is getting the 3 manager symbols in order to unlock the additional manager.

With 5 players the limiting factor is the employees, so people tend to battle to get those.

In both cases player order is very important, in the 5 player game it was not uncommon that player 4 or 5 already took the first player action as their first action.

Generally I can concur that the game has the potential to fail badly if you do something wrong in the beginning. However I think it is an experience thing. Once you played a few games, you will know what works and what not, and I expect the games to get more balanced after that.

A few hints out of my own painful experience:

* Don't take buildings that require chemicals, unless you already have a chemicals production
* If you want to get into industry or machinery, you absolutely need to have a mine
* In the 5-player game energy production is less important, there are many options to buy energy, so in general you should be fine without (and you need the workers elsewhere)
* Try to be first player at the start of era III so you can grab the right factory (one with a point multiplier, matching your production)
* When in doubt, take first/second player early, it's not devastating to make a meager round, if you can bounce back the round after.
* The +3 engineers are great, but you need to plan ahead to get matching factories, also in the 5 player game you'll rarely be able to run more than 1 of these guys, I'd rather take the +2 workers/+1 farmers.

Hope this helps. I'd really give the 5p game a chance, once you played a few 3-4 player games.
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Peter Hazlewood
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Bromsgrove
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I've played 11 games so far and am absolutely loving it. The only player count I haven't tried is 5 so I can't speak for that, but all other player counts have been fantastic while a bit different.

It's not easy, except on easy mode with lower player counts. Try moving onto a higher difficulty with lower player count; there have been many games that I didn't get on great with the first play but with more understanding comes infinitely more enjoyment.
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Pantelis Bouboulis
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I totally agree with Benji comments.
The game would be very easy and with more limited strategy if such combos could operate on the same round. Moreover, it would have lost its thematic feeling (all products require one production cycle). Instead, you have to plan ahead and, possibly, keep some resources in your warehouses so that you can use them in the next round.
As for the energy: Don't think only of electricity. There are other energy resources (coal, oil, biofuel, e.t.c.). Energy can be any of that, thus it also requires one production cycle!

As you guys say, the game is played differently at different player counts. We think that this is a good thing (we designed it that way), so that to increase "replayability" (this is not a word, but I think you know what I mean).

Ludwig:
I think you are correct. The game can fail badly if you don't play well, but it is definetely an experience thing! After a few plays you will see that you will know what to do and what not to do. I think that this is not bad in a game. When I buy a game, I want to be able to play it many times. If I figure out what happens in my first play, usually this means that the game has very few options.


Some comments on your "painful expereinces"

1) "Don't take buildings that require chemicals, unless you already have a chemicals production"
Have you considered importing the basket 2energy+2chemicals? This will allow you to operate such buildings for two rounds. Actually, these are some of the most powerful buildings. If you buy such a building in the first round, you should also invest in many employees and get that combo. You should operate this building with as many employees as possible to get a descent production and get things going... In the following rounds you can get another building and finish your "combo".

2) "If you want to get into industry or machinery, you absolutely need to have a mine"
Same here. You can use such buildings without having a mine. You can instead use the basket 2energy+2minerals. Nevertheless, if you also have a mine, then your earnings will increase.

Let me give you an example:
You can buy Farm06 in the first round. Then take farmers and workers, or get the basket 2energies+2chemicals. I wouldn't operate this building if I didn't have at least one bonus worker there. You can wait and operate the building in the second round and get around 8 food (or more if you are lucky). This can give you 8 VPs and 16 money for two rounds!!!
Then you can buy resorts, food industries, e.t.c. to get even more VPs. If you operate this building only once, you have enough food to operate the resorts for up to 4 rounds. The ideal is to also get a pharmaceuticals company or freighters03 to get the maximum boost...

The other comments are right on point!!
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Ludwig Seitz
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TurambarGR wrote:
~snip~
Some comments on your "painful expereinces"

1) "Don't take buildings that require chemicals, unless you already have a chemicals production"
Have you considered importing the basket 2energy+2chemicals? This will allow you to operate such buildings for two rounds.


My experience was that in the beginning of the game the import was way too expensive to manage to pay for, and towards the end, the extra action required every second turn to import the chemicals (or the minerals for that part) was really hurting when it comes to all the other things you want to do.

Sorry I'm diverging from the OP's thread topic. I'll start a new thread in the Strategy subforum.
 
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Phelan
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tivowatcher wrote:
[snip]
P.S. Ugh - how can I move this to the Reviews forum???
The only way I know is the red X at the top of a thread, choosing the "wrong forum" option. The mods then move it to the one they feel is correct, I think.
I don't know if the thread creator can see/use the "wrong forum" link, though.
 
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Liam
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Phelanpt wrote:
I don't know if the thread creator can see/use the "wrong forum" link, though.


They can and this accounts for 20% of wrong forum reports.
 
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Calvin Wong
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TurambarGR wrote:

You can buy Farm06 in the first round. Then take farmers and workers, or get the basket 2energies+2chemicals. I wouldn't operate this building if I didn't have at least one bonus worker there. You can wait and operate the building in the second round and get around 8 food (or more if you are lucky). This can give you 8 VPs and 16 money for two rounds!!!
Then you can buy resorts, food industries, e.t.c. to get even more VPs. If you operate this building only once, you have enough food to operate the resorts for up to 4 rounds. The ideal is to also get a pharmaceuticals company or freighters03 to get the maximum boost...

The other comments are right on point!!


This is exactly what I did in my last game except I mistimed my purchase of the pharmaceuticals company quite badly which left me with not enough actions and lost out on 1 round of production.

So for round 2 I produced nothing, which was very painful!

BUT with just my farm and my pharmaceuticals company by round 5 I had caught up to the austerity goal (medium difficulty 4 players)

Chemicals are extremely powerful.
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Kai Saarto
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After playing several 1 and 2 player games I was a bit worried about how this works with 5. Well, we had a blast with 5 players as well.

As said above, workers are the thing that got most fought over with five. I liked how it made me think about other solutions when I did not get the worker I needed.

In our only 5-player game so far, the guy who concentrated on heavy industry and simply exported stuff for points and money won easily. Rest of us started exporting too late or we did not get enough points from tourism or whatnot. That's because competition for workers (to maximize point production) took longer than anyone anticipated.

Catching up after when you have 1-2 less than stellar rounds at the beginning is tough. This might annoy a bit especially at five players when the game takes more time.

Personally, I like that this is no cake walk. But then again, I got the copy of the game, so I have usually played it more than anyone else at the table. I already know some working tactics and I can at least give the winner some challenge. Being at the bottom in points whole game could annoy a lot more.

I think Crisis is a great game and I would suggest giving it a second chance. It is quite a rewarding game when everyone at the table understands the basics. Then you can really enjoy the challenge given by medium difficulty and above.
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Kurt R
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Philadelphia
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ksaarto wrote:
After playing several 1 and 2 player games I was a bit worried about how this works with 5. Well, we had a blast with 5 players as well.

As said above, workers are the thing that got most fought over with five. I liked how it made me think about other solutions when I did not get the worker I needed.

In our only 5-player game so far, the guy who concentrated on heavy industry and simply exported stuff for points and money won easily. Rest of us started exporting too late or we did not get enough points from tourism or whatnot. That's because competition for workers (to maximize point production) took longer than anyone anticipated.

Catching up after when you have 1-2 less than stellar rounds at the beginning is tough. This might annoy a bit especially at five players when the game takes more time.

Personally, I like that this is no cake walk. But then again, I got the copy of the game, so I have usually played it more than anyone else at the table. I already know some working tactics and I can at least give the winner some challenge. Being at the bottom in points whole game could annoy a lot more.

I think Crisis is a great game and I would suggest giving it a second chance. It is quite a rewarding game when everyone at the table understands the basics. Then you can really enjoy the challenge given by medium difficulty and above.

I appreciate hearing the perspective of an experienced player, so thanks for posting. But to be honest, this post sounds like the kiss of death for 5P with my group. If you get beatdown the whole game, it'll never get played again.

I'm going to start this game with no more than 4P and not move to 5P for a long time, if ever, I think.
 
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K S
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Played my first game last night and with 5. It was awesome. I think it's well done with the austerity cards, we chose medium and made it to the 6th round before absolutely failing (ok failed by 3 points) but no one had a bad time. We did feel it a little like we were getting beat down but nothing even close to Dungeon Lords, that game can go die in a fire.

I found the worker spot was popular but not so much so none of us weren't able to do what we wanted. One round that got bad was the event card took away a worker for the round and a player played a card that did the same thing, that stung. Fortunately I was able to grab a loan and buy a building that I could run and get a bunch of VP and Money to meet the goal that way.

I love how the game flows and works, easily going into my regular rotation.
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Mike
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Played it for the first time last night, at five player easy mode (first game; we gave ourselves a break). The only person who was familiar with the game was the owner who had played half a game to familiarize herself with how it worked. But the rest of us had no trouble picking up on the rules.

I didn't feel the game was too restricted with five players. The only thing we seemed to regularly run out of was opportunities to recruit workers; they were the only thing that always got taken.

I happened to be first player and got a Power Plant in Round 1. This turned out to be an embarrassment of riches; I ended up accumulating more power than I could use. With other goods, you can sell them off or convert them but IIRC you can't do that with power. Still, I could see other players were having power problems and I wasn't so no complaints.

I really liked the way this was a competitive game but with a collective victory point mechanic that meant other players' success was important to you. It created a game where you want to win but you don't want the other players to lose too badly. That said, I feel a system like that should have more opportunities for player interaction. If one player was dragging down the victory track, there wasn't much the rest of us could do to help. I would have liked some means for players to trade goods or hire out their workers to other players.

But overall a very good game. I'd say my biggest problem with this game is my friend has a copy and I don't.

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Federico Federico
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From my experience (only 8 games with 2, 3, 4 and 5) 5 players feels like the most tight game experience, and needs players that are less suceptible to frustration. For us this game is exiting, and the theme works a little too well (coming from a country that had a crisis like that of it´s own).
So, 5 players game is very enjoyable, tight, a little mean, but an excellent game experience, and a good reminder of what are the consequences of how opressive the world economic system is.
I really think that is a good way to engage a group of students to have a rough feeling of the industrialists hopes and responabilities in these kind of real life events.
Tnx to Pantelis and Sotiris for a very creative way to express their frustration.
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Sotiris Tsantilas
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cyberfefe wrote:
...but an excellent game experience, and a good reminder of what are the consequences of how opressive the world economic system is.
I really think that is a good way to engage a group of students to have a rough feeling of the industrialists hopes and responabilities in these kind of real life events.
Tnx to Pantelis and Sotiris for a very creative way to express their frustration.


Absolutely agree! Thank you Federico!
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