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Subject: League 1 Game Analysis rss

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lucas
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To me, post game analysis is a considerable part of the fun of playing TM: If I lose, I can talk a bit of my frustration off; if I win, I may be excused for gloating a bit. Here is my perspective on three games I played in league 1 this season (or co-played, actually, enkidu is a group of three players). I invite everyone to tell me where I went wrong, or just share his views about these games (or other finished games from league 1):

Game 5: A very frustrating game to start with. What faction would you have picked from position 4, after darklings, halflings and dwarves have been picked in front of you? My choice of the swarmlings was influenced by the hope to make good use of round scoring, of BON6 und BON7.
My original intention was to place the initial dwellings on D5 and D2, or possibly on D5 and H4 to threaten the dwarves' and darklings' connection. However, when the other players placed their first dwellings on G5, B2 and F6, I suddenly feared I would remain without neighbours (dwarves putting their 2nd dwelling on C2). So I put one dwelling on G6, intending to make good use of the power.
However I did not anticipate that ACT5 and ACT6 would be taken away in both the first and second round by halflings and dwarves. This stopped me from expanding efficiently. The subsequent plan to forgo the SA was pure desperation. I managed to earn some vp by digging and building three towns, but I could neither connect nor win many cult points, and although the final result may look close, I never had a real chance to achieve 3rd place.
In retrospect, I would try the witches. When you take BON6 and leech lots of power, you may just be able to start with SH+Te+D. And you may make life much more difficult for the dwarves. Still, I am not very optimistic about earning anything more than 3rd place in a high level competition. Picking after black, brown and grey have been taken is tough.

Game 3: Picking the chaos magicians in early seat is something of a gamble. Swarmlings (challenging my cult domination) and nomads (taking away my hexes) being picked after me was not what I had hoped for (Why, oh why, mikaeljt, didn't you pick your beloved engineers in such a low coin game?) Still, the first 3 rounds went reasonably well.
The crucial moment for me came in round 3-8: Should I use FAV6 to progrees in fire or rather progrees in earth, burn 3 power and build a bridge? In retrospect, of course the latter. My gamble on being able to build a bridge in round 4 or 5 failed spectacularly. As a result I got 10 FAVs but did not win a single cult. After that, place 1 and 2 in this game seemed out of my reach, although again, the final result looks very close.

Finally game 1 (yay!): Halflings in seat 3 were close to an automatic choice in this layout, and when witches were chosen after me, I was quite optimistic about my chances. Very often, when the color combination black-grey-brown-green is chosen, black and brown battle it out for 1st place, while grey and green only fight for 3rd place. But again, no faction pick is particularly attractive from seat 4 when black, brown and grey have been chosen in front of you.
The position of the initial dwellings was also favourable for the halflings IMHO - isn't it much more difficult to place your initial dwellings when the darklings start out on G5?
Still, the darklings played a very fine game, and I expected the final round to be a close contest between halflings and darklings. When the engineers wrested ACT1 away from the darklings, things looked very good and I tried to switch to "safety mode" which resulted in some strange looking (and certainly non-optimal) decisions. When the witches dropped, it was something of an anti-climax (but I don't want to comment on that). In my final moves I could decide the fight between 2nd and 3rd place, and I still feel uncomfortable about this decision.
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Paul Kessels
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Whow, just want to say that I really appreciate that you share your thoughts with everyone in the community! I haven't had time to analyze the D1 games yet (not that I suspect I could add a lot to your thinking ) but am certainly going to have a closer look.
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Brian Hawaiian
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Awesome read. Thanks for sharing.

Do you think Game 4 will finish in time?
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lucas
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evitageN wrote:

Do you think Game 4 will finish in time?


I hope so. My last moves will not take any time at all. If necessary, I am prepared to make all the remaining moves on November 30th between 11:00 and 12:00 p.m. CET.
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Ola Caster
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I know that one person can only manage one account, but has there ever been any consideration about rules for 'commitees' like this? I personally am not too bothered about it, but others might be.
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Robert
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kruppy wrote:
I know that one person can only manage one account, but has there ever been any consideration about rules for 'commitees' like this? I personally am not too bothered about it, but others might be.
Looks like I don't get your question: what is a "commitee like this"?
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Evil Roy
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DocCool wrote:
Looks like I don't get your question: what is a "commitee like this"?

enkidu_77 wrote:
actually, enkidu is a group of three players
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Robert
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Evil Roy wrote:
DocCool wrote:
Looks like I don't get your question: what is a "commitee like this"?

enkidu_77 wrote:
actually, enkidu is a group of three players
Oh. Thank you, I didn't get this. That does sound a bit borderline. ninja
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James Wolfpacker
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DocCool wrote:
Evil Roy wrote:
DocCool wrote:
Looks like I don't get your question: what is a "commitee like this"?

enkidu_77 wrote:
actually, enkidu is a group of three players
Oh. Thank you, I didn't get this. That does sound a bit borderline. ninja


Well enkidu will be winning Division 1. Congratulations enkidus! Does anyone want to join the JamesWolfpacker Terra Mystica braintrust team? whistle I could drop out of the tournament for Season 17 in order to join the Machiavelli/mikaeljt/lek/retardedonkey/Fujiwara/shanarkoh account.

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lucas
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If - as I sincerely hope - game 6 comes to its regular and logical conclusion, I will happily accept your congratulations for 2nd place and in turn offer my congratulations to another player. I would really love to hear the players' thoughts on this game, then.
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Dhrun
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Congrats enkidu(s) on probably winnning the league (did not analyse), great feat in any case!

Now becoming the spoilsport..

Probably the current league rules do not forbid teams?
To me players=individuals is implied by an obviously competitive scenario for a game that is normally played by single players, especially at high level, but I accept that as usual people might have other opinions.
What do others think? What does Daniel think?
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Chris Sandman
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Hi enkidus,

You are obviously talented and very good in TM. So as you are a team i want to spwcifically ask you if you also have accounts that are played by you seperately in eg the individual persons alone?
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Steve Haas
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I think attempting to ban teams is basically unenforceable, because there's no real way to detect them, and it seems hard to even define the point at which a team becomes illegal.

For example: if I have friends that I play TM with, am I allowed to talk to them about my games? If they suggest moves, am I allowed to consider them? I'd argue the answer pretty much has to be yes - while I'm sure there are some players who play entirely by themselves and never talk about their games with anyone else, I'm sure there's also a lot of people who do receive feedback from other people at least occasionally, and there is absolutely no way of preventing people from having conversations about games.

And if you allow that... where is the boundary? The difference between "I talk to friends about positions but make the final decisions myself", "I talk to friends about positions and we take turns making the final decisions", and "I talk to friends about positions and we discuss until we all agree, and then I enter the move" just isn't that large. So it seems really hard to prevent explicit teams without also preventing regular social discussion of games, which is probably not desirable and hard to do even if you wanted to.

And, frankly, past all that: I think it'd be kind of fun to play as a team, at least occasionally. Never mind that it would help me perform better in the tournament; having more people to discuss games with in detail sounds like a great way to improve as a player. My current style of play draws heavily from the specific group(s) of people I play with most often, and I suspect playing with people of different backgrounds would be an interesting way to learn more about the breadth of possible strategies.
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lucas
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Cheers, Steve. It is indeed great fun to play as a team, discussing your strategies, commiserating your losses, celebrating your victories.

However, with great fun comes great responsibility
It is not our intention to curb anyone else's pleasure in playing TM. I would like to - at least try to - reduce the irritation that has been expressed in other posts and answer your questions:

@dhrun: I do not know what Daniel thinks. He is informed about the situation, though: One of our - then four - players private messaged him some time ago and mentioned that enkidu is playing as a group. Daniel did not object at that time. He did object, however, to simultanously playing in the group and as a single player, and of course we have always respected that.

Which, hopefully, answers part of Chris' question already: We have private accounts but use them very rarely and are not active in the tournament. We have our own, internal FtF-tournament. Battle has become really fierce, recently, so there may indeed be some improvement from playing as a group.
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James Wolfpacker
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All for 1 and 1 for all!!!

You might want to consider using the French flag next time. laugh

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I'm curious about the process by which you make decisions as a group. Do you independently come up with moves? Do you meet up in person to analyze positions together? How close in skill are the members?
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lucas
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xnor wrote:
I'm curious about the process by which you make decisions as a group. Do you independently come up with moves? Do you meet up in person to analyze positions together? How close in skill are the members?


We started off playing as a four person group out of time considerations: None of us had any online gaming experience (we are no digital natives), and no single player felt up to managing four games at a time. Thus, everyone captained one game and took all the final decisions (entered all the moves) there. We see each other regularly, however (we are working together), so from the start, we disussed the games during coffee or lunch breaks. This basic structure has been maintained to this day, though one of the players is now captaining two games, and discussions have intensified.
There is a gap in gaming experience: I graduated from playing chess, go and bridge to boardgames, while the other players have no such background. The gap in skill - if ever there was one - has narrowed down, however: The player who came in last in our first internal tournament is now contending for first place in our second round, and every single player has won at least one game.

@James Wolfpacker: I love quotations. They offer a great way to inject wit in your conversation and at the same time honor great thinkers. I have once seen a game of go commented exclusively with lines from the poems of Wilhelm Busch - a real treat. Some quotations just beg to be used in TM commentary, e.g:

The Bard's "There is a tide in the affairs of men Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." - easily adapted to a game situation which has taken a turn for the better.

"They also serve who only stand and wait." (J. Milton) - this may be what mikaeljt thought when placing a dwelling on E8 in Game 3. It just sits there, obstructing the CM's expansion and sucking power from swarmlings and CMs.

Finally "The heart bowed down with weight of woe To weakest hope will cling." (A. Bunn): Probably everyone of us has experienced an unfavourable game situation, in which he hoped his opponents would have a slip of attention and let him turn the tables.
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Mikael Johansson
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Good topic, there should be more of post game analysis (though myself I must admit I find it interesting mostly in my own games )!

For me I have no problems at all with three of you sharing an account, though I must say it sounds very time-consuming discussing single moves together regularly. But I am sure it is alot of fun as well. I admit to having done that myself a few rare times as well.

In your game 5 I think I would have considered Chaos Magicians, or otherwise Nomads. Blue isn't very fun to play against grey-black-brown (discovered that myself in still ongoing game 6, but there I chose Swarmlings from 3rd seat with the hope that the forth player would go Nomads and not brown). And I don't at all enjoy being part of green-grey struggle, so I wouldn't have gone witches.

In our common game 3 it is true that engineers could have been a viable option for me. I can't say I really considered them though; I have for a long time considered them as the strongest faction of all with no color neighbour but weaker than average with green or red in play, why I only pick them into red/green if I find myself without good alternatives. In this game, I was quite happy about the possibility to go SH-Nomads and start with bon6. I also found the game quite smooth-running for me, but in the end the lack of fav11 and zero cult points wasn't enough for victory, even in a game where the rest of you had some problems. I seem to never learn the lesson that a TM game can seldom be won without cult points...

Game 1: I agree with your analysis; when rainbowjoe chose witches, I assumed 1st and 2nd place would be out of reach. My hope when choosing engineers as 2nd was of course to get blue or yellow in, or in worst case red, from 4th seat (I was quite sure halflings would be chosen from 3rd with spade scoring in R4). And I chose to start F6 even though it meant probably giving up network, as I calculated on getting heavy leech. My strategy to give up network scoring and spreading almost completely from start and instead focus on cults and other scoring worked better than I thought, mostly because the rest of you did not have any cult focus I guess. For some time in the last round I thought I could manage 2nd place hoping halflings and witches would take some cult points from darklings, but witches dropped (maybe that didn't matter much though) and haflings chose not to interfere with 2nd/3rd place standing instead of maximizing own score or score difference to 2nd and 3rd player, which was too bad for me

Myself I am curious about the community's thoughts on rainbowjoe's decision for witches from 4th seat in game 1; would people have done the same? He is surely in a tough position there, but in my world witches choice can only turn out bad for himself as well as for engineers. If I was him, in retrospect I think I would have gone CM. I haven't been in so many high-level base games with CM and engineers on the same board, but my distinct feeling is that they can co-habit much better than engineers and witches. A good example is retardedonkey's win a few seasons ago in a setup a bit similar to game 1 this season; http://terra.snellman.net/game/4pLeague_S13_D1L1_G5

By the way, let's hope for a season without drops in the highest divisions starting on thursday!
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Steve Haas
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mikaeljt wrote:
Myself I am curious about the community's thoughts on rainbowjoe's decision for witches from 4th seat in game 1; would people have done the same? He is surely in a tough position there, but in my world witches choice can only turn out bad for himself as well as for engineers. If I was him, in retrospect I think I would have gone CM. I haven't been in so many high-level base games with CM and engineers on the same board, but my distinct feeling is that they can co-habit much better than engineers and witches. A good example is retardedonkey's win a few seasons ago in a setup a bit similar to game 1 this season; http://terra.snellman.net/game/4pLeague_S13_D1L1_G5


So, a few months back I wrote a script to scrape through the event logs to answer exactly this sort of question - given what factions have already been picked, what factions tend to perform well in games against those factions? Specifically, it looks for all games played between players rated 1100+, under tourney rules, with the appropriate factions, and looks at the average performance of each faction across all games.

Obviously, there's a lot of noise in this analysis, and its in no way a substitute for doing the usual sorts of assessments of what works well with everything else happening in the game, but its sort of an interesting starting point in terms of identifying particularly good and bad matchups.

So, applying it to this particular case, what we find is: there is no faction which performs well on average in games against Darklings, Engineers, and Halflings:

Faction Num Games Avg Ranking Pts
mermaids 41 1.07
chaosmagicians 27 1.07
witches 23 1.20
swarmlings 19 1.68
nomads 16 1.06
giants 5 1.60
auren 2 3.00
fakirs 1 0.00


CMs, on average, are just as bad as witches, and mermaids and nomads fair no better. Setting aside the weaker factions (which haven't been played enough for the average to be terribly meaningful), the closest thing to a good option is Swarmlings, but they're still significantly below average (2.5) in their own right.
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Gambia
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mikaeljt wrote:
I haven't been in so many high-level base games with CM and engineers on the same board, but my distinct feeling is that they can co-habit much better than engineers and witches. A good example is retardedonkey's win a few seasons ago in a setup a bit similar to game 1 this season; http://terra.snellman.net/game/4pLeague_S13_D1L1_G5


Even though I won this game as CM, I think CM usually get destroyed by engineers (and engineers at the same time suffer from CM presence, but they would be assured 3rd place at least).

In this game, I had really only one plan which would have given me winning chances so I went for it. If engineers had chosen a more common strategy for the early game, I probably wouldn't even have been able to contest 3rd place.

My CM pick was motivated by the fact that halflings and darklings will be picked by 2nd and 3rd pick. And witches does fare very well in this layout. But it ended up being a mistake as Toine picked engineers. It's paradoxical that I eventually won this game.
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Robert
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enkidu_77 wrote:
"They also serve who only stand and wait." (J. Milton) - this may be what mikaeljt thought when placing a dwelling on E8 in Game 3. It just sits there, obstructing the CM's expansion and sucking power from swarmlings and CMs.
I love the looks of the black hexagon in that game.
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lucas
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mikaeljt wrote:

In your game 5 I think I would have considered Chaos Magicians, or otherwise Nomads. Blue isn't very fun to play against grey-black-brown (discovered that myself in still ongoing game 6, but there I chose Swarmlings from 3rd seat with the hope that the forth player would go Nomads and not brown). And I don't at all enjoy being part of green-grey struggle, so I wouldn't have gone witches.


Yes, I considered both CMs and nomads. But CMs suffer from dwarves, not only by neighbouring hex color but also, because dwarves will build a temple first round and afterwards put all their priests into the cults. As there is no BON4 to expand quickly, you as CM will have to use your priests to advance on ship - and as there is no BON10, you don't even get an extra reward for that. On top of all that, the scoring in round 1 and 2 may be quite ok, but from round 3 on, I don't think CMs can make good use of it.
Nomads, on the other hand, look better indeed. They were also Skyswooper's / retardedonkey's suggestion in our post game chat. Maybe I'll try that next time.

mikaeljt wrote:

Myself I am curious about the community's thoughts on rainbowjoe's decision for witches from 4th seat in game 1; would people have done the same? He is surely in a tough position there, but in my world witches choice can only turn out bad for himself as well as for engineers.


Steve's statistics (thanks a lot for providing them) kind of mirror my thoughts on this situation: No faction looks particularly promising. The most depressing conclusion from this would be: If you are faced with such a layout, abandon all hope to play for first place and concentrate on avoiding last place. This could indeed mean to either chose witches (to play against engineers) or nomads (to play against halflings) - darklings are usually too flexible to target them. I hope that it has not come so far, yet.

DocCool wrote:

I love the looks of the black hexagon in that game.


I used to call that formation a corral (in German: Wagenburg).
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James Wolfpacker
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In a R4 spades game against DHE I'd go with

Swarmlings: R1-R3 has 3 of SH/SA and TP or 2 with R3 town. R5-6 at least one D

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lucas
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JamesWolfpacker wrote:
In a R4 spades game against DHE I'd go with

Swarmlings: R1-R3 has 3 of SH/SA and TP or 2 with R3 town. R5-6 at least one D



Yes, that's what I tried in Game 5 (with dwarves instead of engineers). You will indeed often have a high capacity for earning vp's with the swarmlings (my 142 isn't so bad if seen in isolation). The problem is that the other factions will often have an even higher vp-earning capacity. Darklings just play along the scores and gain vps as they go. Halflings will make good use of the spade round and profit from low competition on hexes and good neighbourship. Engineers have lots of uncontested hexes and can pull off their usual, strong game. I have the feeling that swarmlings are too well behaved and not suited to trouble the other factions. Still, I have nothing better to offer, and the statistics are on your side.

By the way, there is one more "death position" in seat 4, which has already been mentioned by Petri / Xevoc: When darklings, witches and nomads are chosen, the fourth player to pick has also a tough ride. This did not happen this season but there are some instances from earlier seasons. Steve, what do your statistics tell you on that combination?
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James Wolfpacker
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Using the tuner here:
https://www.snellman.net/tmp/tm/tune/

Here's the results for D1-D4 and S8-S15

Results

Faction Count Score
darklings 112 3.638392857142857
dwarves 2 3
witches 112 2.65625
nomads 112 2.1205357142857144
mermaids 12 1.8333333333333333
engineers 31 1.6935483870967742
chaosmagicians 40 1.6375
swarmlings 16 1.59375
cultists 3 1.3333333333333333
halflings 2 0.5
giants 6 0.16666666666666666


There are only 2 Dwarves games in that configuration with DWN, so it's not statistically significant, but I'd say that perhaps the tunnel points might outweigh the bridge points in that scenario.
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