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Subject: Five games in and structurally this game seems unsound. rss

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Ken Rothstein
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The winner of any given game gets a structural benefit nobody else gets, which can only serve as an advantage to the next game, where they get a milestone, get another structural advantage and the lead grows. We have had the same player either first or second the last three games. What is the mechanism to stop the leader? It certainly can't be attacking. I attacked a leader's ship and what I got for my trouble was one cube. Who cares about that, he certainly didn't.

So now the leader of game three who was second in game four, has come back to win game five. Here we are heading to game six. I have not achieved a single milestone so my tech is still at the basic level. I have two colonies and I imagine I will get a third next time, but that isn't going to shake things up all that much. If this legacy game has me eliminated at this point, is there any reason to continue other than my non-existant love of excruciating and brutal downtime? I believe there are 10 more games to go, I just don't see why I should even bother at this point if I have no way to not even win, but to even catch up to the person in third place.

My main observation here is giving the winner and the winner alone a tech upgrade just means they have a leg up to win the next game and get another tech upgrade, which gives them a leg up to open the next box which means they have a leg up to win the next round and on and on it goes. Am I missing something here? I am aware that everyone gets to upgrade their ship too, but since the winner does also that is a wash and no advantage in trying to catch up to the leader whose lead grows and grows with each passing game.
 
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Marcel Cwertetschka
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- every player upgrades advisors and everyone keeps one advisor except the winner, which might be locked out of keeping an advisor as he only can keep an advisor that costs less gold than all others

- every player upgrades their ships, you have a runaway leader? upgrade your raid and go for his province: steal his goods, raid his farms, raid his treasures and gold, sink his ship. That can be very crushing very fast.

- any milestones give upgrades, if you don't achieve any milestones you defenitely play the game wrong. You should massively focus on them from your very first turn on, or even from the last game on, choosing which advisor will help you the most.

- in the first box, new titles are distributed, the bigger the gap in glory to the leading player, the more gold and bonuses you get to close that gap, use these benefits to crush the leading player. The leading player has to distribute enmity to nearly all other players, use that enmity to raid him, store your luck and reputation token to remove temporary enmity at the end of the game, that you can raid further in the next games.

- focus on a gameplan, every action counts, make the most use of every of your turns.



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Xavier
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I don't wan't to spoil too much but there are many other ways to get the exact same update (even better ones).

Plus those structural updates are not the best things you can get.

Spoiler (click to reveal)

. +1 glory on first treasure
. +1 glory on first building (and for 2nd if you get lucky)
. +1 glory on first ship upgrade (and for 2nd if you get lucky)
. 1 glory for an always activated colony (you don't have to pay for it on game setup)
. Veteran ships

. Easily get 6 glory during 1 turn

None of those required one to have won any game before.

+1 fortune/reputation, +some money on a field or + some ganison, that's not a big weight compared to what you can get just playing the game.


Quote:

The winner of any given game gets a structural benefit nobody else gets, which can only serve as an advantage to the next game, where they get a milestone, get another structural advantage and the lead grows.


The winner's advantage doesn't give any advantage to get a future milestone, beside 1 reputation for avisors and 1 fortune to arrange one test, the others are negligible.



2 colonies after 5 games, you must be a builder/merchant.
What I learned from my wife being a merchant is: never ever sell your goods.
Buy goods, tax on the way back home, use good to stack up buildings, ship upgrades and treasures, build colonies.

Do any other player has 2 colonies yet ? (2 after 5 games I bet you're in advance) If so, then on your next game, take your bonuses from being behind the prince as money, raid some goldmine (if your group has been lucky on exploring there must be some low test ones), go get 5 ressources, build 5 buildings costing 10 for 2 golds (even less with the right avisors. and collect the "have 5 buildings" millestone.

On a longer setup, buil more colonies to get the "have 4 colonies" millestone" (is it 3 or 4 ? I can't remember. my wife easilly got this one as a merchant/builder)

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Ken Rothstein
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There is no brutal attack. You raid the ship you might get one cube. You raid their home you can get some gold. Ships repair for free. It isnt that impressive. And the reward for this attack is you surrender your tokens making further attacks near impossible and/or enable the leader to attack you back with advantage. The attacking element to this game is inconsequential and that is being generous to its impact. Can you explain how getting 9 extra gold equates to crushing?

And even if I played badly we come to the second part of the problem. At what point is it obvious there is no path to victory and the legacy is more like a curse? I suspect I am there already.

 
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Nathan W
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I think you may be attacking ships incorrectly. The attacker can choose for each success to apply a damage or take a good from the defender's hold. 3 successes (which you can use fortune tokens to obtain) = one sunk ship and the loss of glory from upgrades, loss of goods in hold, and delay in their plan. Repairing may be free, but it still requires you to take a turn to do it. Even if you don't sink the ship outright, some of the damage cards can be crippling requiring them to take time and again, use a turn to repair.

It seems like your play group is letting the leader do what they want, which is always dangerous. Everyone should be using the free enmity tokens they get from the leader in each game, even if it is only one raid per player, the first place player should be having to deal with a number of raids per game.

Or if you are a merchant/trader and you are being left unmolested because your group doesn't raid each other (which it sounds like), keep focusing on your building of colonies and structures/upgrades which should be scoring you glory (with bonuses if you are using the "builder" advisors)
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j n
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KenNYC wrote:
There is no brutal attack. You raid the ship you might get one cube.


Or you might get several cubes and/or other items and also sink their ship while you're at it.

And if you control the space (such as an island where you have a colony), you only have to pay 1 enmity, no matter how many successes worth of damage you inflict...

Quote:

And even if I played badly we come to the second part of the problem. At what point is it obvious there is no path to victory and the legacy is more like a curse? I suspect I am there already.


I'm not sure this ever happens. In game 5, one of our players shrunk their gap by 7 points. In game 6, a different player shrunk theirs by 9. In game 7, a third player shrunk their gap by 10 points.
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Darren Nakamura
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KenNYC wrote:
There is no brutal attack. You raid the ship you might get one cube.


I disagree. In one of our earlier games I was raided and it cost me a huge chunk of glory and probably the win. The key is to block people from gaining Milestones (or at least to block them from gaining the ones you're going for.)

I had the building that increased sale price by 4, three goods on my ship, and an Advisor with +1 Sell. All I had to do was sail to my home province and make the sale and I would have gotten the "gain 30 Gold in a single sell action" Milestone, and would have been halfway to the "have 60 Gold in your Vault" Milestone when I was raided. Yeah, the dude only took two of my Goods, but with those two he was able to make the sale before I could.

It's not like Risk, where the strategy is to just pile on the leader. You get one, maybe two good raids per game. They need to be directed and precise. Don't just raid because you can. Raid when it would hurt them the most (or help you the most).

You're going for the three Colony Milestone, it sounds like. If you see the leader snatching up tons of goods, that's when you go after him. Take his stuff, gain the Glory for the raid, then use his stuff to build a Colony. It'll be a huge point swing if you get that Milestone (4 points for building an active Colony, 4 points for the Milestone. That's like half the points you need to win.)
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Simon Crowe
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If it helps, in our games after game 5 (with 5 players)...

The player who won the first 2 games is now overall last.
I was overall last going in to game 5, and won. Now I'm second overall.

Fortunes can change, the start game bonuses you get from going last are a real help (I always take money). The biggest issue with being the leader has ended up going after everyone else in the game, means a lot of your plans are being grabbed by other players first.
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Chad Urso McDaniel
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Two questions:

1) Did get glory for your successful raid when you attacked the leader's ship?

2) How are you choosing you game-start bonuses?
 
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Matt Steski
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KenNYC wrote:

And even if I played badly we come to the second part of the problem. At what point is it obvious there is no path to victory and the legacy is more like a curse? I suspect I am there already.


You are not there yet. There are mechanisms in the future that are worth a ton of points and keeping an upgraded advisor is far more beneficial to accomplishing them than any of the winner bonuses.

Warning - Full game spoilers:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I'm talking about the Tombs of the Ancients here - "clearing" a Tomb is usually worth about as much as a milestone and is relatively easy if you have an advisor with Explore bonuses. They were so lucrative that we basically stopped doing anything other than rushing to and clearing Tombs as fast as possible.

The Temple that shows up late game also works as a catchup mechanic, as the player in last will be able to build it more easily than anyone else, and it can practically auto-clear any explore endeavor by itself. Our player in last place was easily able to make up a huge point deficit because he was able to build the Temple turn 1, then clear a Tomb practically every turn for a boat load of points.


(Now, whether it's a GOOD thing that Tombs are so lucrative - and swingy - is debatable in itself...


I'd be interested if other people who have completed the game found my assessment to be accurate as well.
 
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Vince Alvarez
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Scrowe wrote:
If it helps, in our games after game 5 (with 5 players)...

The player who won the first 2 games is now overall last.
I was overall last going in to game 5, and won. Now I'm second overall.

Fortunes can change, the start game bonuses you get from going last are a real help (I always take money). The biggest issue with being the leader has ended up going after everyone else in the game, means a lot of your plans are being grabbed by other players first.


This probably doesn't help, but after 10 games (4 players) I am 79 points ahead of last place and 53 points ahead of second place (159/106/103/59). The end game bonuses don't help much when the other players are still getting 2 Rep/2 Fortune and I am getting 5/4 and have most of my fields upgraded. I believe that I have won 9/10 games.

I have been playing laser focused on gaining milestones and preventing others from gaining them (have gained 8/14 total milestones). All of the tactics that others in this thread are giving to catch up I have been using to keep winning. I do think there are some problems with the game's balance.

Now a couple of caveats:
1) Everyone is still having fun, but they have kind of resigned themselves to be playing for second.
2) There hasn't been a ton of player v. player raiding (I've probably done the most and at that only a few times in 10 games.
3) Most of the games have seen a 1-2 glory difference between the winner and second place. And I have been able to steal victory from the jaws of defeat on a few occasions. (Gaining 8-9 glory in one turn, raiding a 2/3 glory treasure from the person who thought they just won, etc.)

The game is fun, but I'm surprised that it wasn't discovered that a savvy player that wins a few games will keep winning. Especially if his/her opponents are not thinking as strategically.

I would still be curious in the strategies that others have for helping others catch up.
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Tilou
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heyvince wrote:
Scrowe wrote:
If it helps, in our games after game 5 (with 5 players)...

The player who won the first 2 games is now overall last.
I was overall last going in to game 5, and won. Now I'm second overall.

Fortunes can change, the start game bonuses you get from going last are a real help (I always take money). The biggest issue with being the leader has ended up going after everyone else in the game, means a lot of your plans are being grabbed by other players first.


This probably doesn't help, but after 10 games (4 players) I am 79 points ahead of last place and 53 points ahead of second place (159/106/103/59). The end game bonuses don't help much when the other players are still getting 2 Rep/2 Fortune and I am getting 5/4 and have most of my fields upgraded. I believe that I have won 9/10 games.

I have been playing laser focused on gaining milestones and preventing others from gaining them (have gained 8/14 total milestones). All of the tactics that others in this thread are giving to catch up I have been using to keep winning. I do think there are some problems with the game's balance.

Now a couple of caveats:
1) Everyone is still having fun, but they have kind of resigned themselves to be playing for second.
2) There hasn't been a ton of player v. player raiding (I've probably done the most and at that only a few times in 10 games.
3) Most of the games have seen a 1-2 glory difference between the winner and second place. And I have been able to steal victory from the jaws of defeat on a few occasions. (Gaining 8-9 glory in one turn, raiding a 2/3 glory treasure from the person who thought they just won, etc.)

The game is fun, but I'm surprised that it wasn't discovered that a savvy player that wins a few games will keep winning. Especially if his/her opponents are not thinking as strategically.

I would still be curious in the strategies that others have for helping others catch up.


Interesting report. But it seems to me that you were playing better than your friends. So you'd deserve to be leading.
It's good to know that you still have fun. And your games sound tight.
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Phil
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heyvince wrote:
This probably doesn't help, but after 10 games (4 players) I am 79 points ahead of last place and 53 points ahead of second place (159/106/103/59). The end game bonuses don't help much when the other players are still getting 2 Rep/2 Fortune and I am getting 5/4 and have most of my fields upgraded. I believe that I have won 9/10 games.


The last place player, at 79 points behind, gets 16 starting bonuses. That could be 16 fortune, or 16 reputation, or 48 gold, or a combination.

If someone can't turn that into a win, then I'm not sure what could help them.

Interesting that the other players are still around 2 Rep/2 Fortune as my character is around 5/5 but most of that has come from exploring things and not from winning.

In our game, through 6 plays, we've rarely done any PvP. We've got a Raider, Explorer, and a couple of Merchants that have only done the ship upgrades that improve those options. Our scores are 68/68/67/58, with everyone winning at least one game, as well as claiming at least a couple of milestones.
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Ken Rothstein
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heyvince wrote:


This probably doesn't help, but after 10 games (4

The game is fun, but I'm surprised that it wasn't discovered that a savvy player that wins a few games will keep winning.



I discovered this
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Becq
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farsidehobbes wrote:
heyvince wrote:
This probably doesn't help, but after 10 games (4 players) I am 79 points ahead of last place and 53 points ahead of second place (159/106/103/59). The end game bonuses don't help much when the other players are still getting 2 Rep/2 Fortune and I am getting 5/4 and have most of my fields upgraded. I believe that I have won 9/10 games.


The last place player, at 79 points behind, gets 16 starting bonuses. That could be 16 fortune, or 16 reputation, or 48 gold, or a combination.

If someone can't turn that into a win, then I'm not sure what could help them.

This. What is that player spending 48 extra gold on that isn't making a difference in his score?
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j n
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farsidehobbes wrote:
heyvince wrote:
This probably doesn't help, but after 10 games (4 players) I am 79 points ahead of last place and 53 points ahead of second place (159/106/103/59). The end game bonuses don't help much when the other players are still getting 2 Rep/2 Fortune and I am getting 5/4 and have most of my fields upgraded. I believe that I have won 9/10 games.


The last place player, at 79 points behind, gets 16 starting bonuses. That could be 16 fortune, or 16 reputation, or 48 gold, or a combination.


Yeah, I was thinking similar. That's enough to match the leader in rep/fortune and also have +30 gold. Even if the leader is getting equivalent of 30 gold in other benefits (which seems unlikely), the turn order and starting advisor advantages ought to help him turn out a game win every now and then.

This is a high-variance game, and also a skill-intensive game. It sounds to me like Vince is both lucky and good (relative to the other players at least) to be able to keep this up.
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Frank Pelkofer
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We had a 20+ point spread through games 5-12 (I don't have the scores here to check exactly). Over games 13-15, it has closed to 5 points. As far as I can tell, no one is ever out of it.

But, you don't make up those big gaps for free. Every game (really, every turn), you have to ask yourself: how can I get a milestone before anyone else? And then, take those steps. Don't be a trader or a raider or an explorer. Be the person who does what it takes to get the next milestone first. If you stumble around playing "in character" gaining 1 glory per round, you are never going to close the gap. If you are starting the game with 30 extra gold, I guarantee you are set up to do something awesome. But, it won't always (ever?) be the same thing. You have to plan to the circumstances in your exact situation.

I have walked away from this game more than once feeling like a complete moron because I lost by more than 10 points. But, with careful planning, a healthy stack of start bonuses, and luck, I was able to come back and grab a decisive victory in return.
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Nathanaël Dufour
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Sassycat wrote:


Warning - Full game spoilers: Box 3 and 5 spoilers actually
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I'm talking about the Tombs of the Ancients here - "clearing" a Tomb is usually worth about as much as a milestone and is relatively easy if you have an advisor with Explore bonuses. They were so lucrative that we basically stopped doing anything other than rushing to and clearing Tombs as fast as possible.

The Temple that shows up late game also works as a catchup mechanic, as the player in last will be able to build it more easily than anyone else, and it can practically auto-clear any explore endeavor by itself. Our player in last place was easily able to make up a huge point deficit because he was able to build the Temple turn 1, then clear a Tomb practically every turn for a boat load of points.


(Now, whether it's a GOOD thing that Tombs are so lucrative - and swingy - is debatable in itself...


I'd be interested if other people who have completed the game found my assessment to be accurate as well.


I agree. OTOH
Spoiler (click to reveal)
to have enough gold to do that turn 1 you'd need to be REALLY far behind. And if you do it on a colony to use a resource produced there, you might get both the colony and Temple stolen
 
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Nathanaël Dufour
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heyvince wrote:

The game is fun, but I'm surprised that it wasn't discovered that a savvy player that wins a few games will keep winning. Especially if his/her opponents are not thinking as strategically.


That's the key part.

To be fair, if you manage to get 5 or 6 improvements ahead of everyone else... Then yes, it might become hard for others to catch up. But that means they've been doing something wrong the 3 first games when you were Prince.

How come they don't steal your colonies, for example ? Giving away 7 enmity tokens is impossible for the Prince but quite easy for the Count, Baron and Lord.

I was a Count 20 points behind last 2 games, but I DID win those last two games by taking colonies from the two leaders, preventing them from getting milestones. Of course, I agreed with our Baron (which was 30 points behind) that he wouldn't attack me, and instead he raided them (destroying buildings and getting resources), which allowed him to build a colony and explore Tombs.

Now, we're still behind, but we each got 3 improvements on these two games, and the Prince and Duke only 1. Meaning we get almost the same starting bonuses (I'm now 14 points behind and him 26), but our improvement gap has shortened (and we got Tablets and colonies we used not to have) . I'm hopeful.
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Nathanaël Dufour
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KenNYC wrote:
I have not achieved a single milestone so my tech is still at the basic level. I have two colonies and I imagine I will get a third next time, but that isn't going to shake things up all that much.


Don't build taht colony. Raid it from one of the leading players, using their enmity.
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Vince Alvarez
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farsidehobbes wrote:
heyvince wrote:
This probably doesn't help, but after 10 games (4 players) I am 79 points ahead of last place and 53 points ahead of second place (159/106/103/59). The end game bonuses don't help much when the other players are still getting 2 Rep/2 Fortune and I am getting 5/4 and have most of my fields upgraded. I believe that I have won 9/10 games.


The last place player, at 79 points behind, gets 16 starting bonuses. That could be 16 fortune, or 16 reputation, or 48 gold, or a combination.

If someone can't turn that into a win, then I'm not sure what could help them.


I've heard people talk about these starting bonuses this way, but what is the strategy? How should they be spending them? and more importantly, Why? What's the strategy?

Stay in your harbour and spend the first turn spending the gold on a Building/Upgrade? Buying treasure? The player that won the "have 60 gold" milestone did it on the turn the Pirate King Demanded Gold, so he immediately bought a 4 Glory treasure. I sailed over, raided it, and won the game. So people have chilled on the buying of treasure.
 
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heyvince wrote:

I've heard people talk about these starting bonuses this way, but what is the strategy? How should they be spending them? and more importantly, Why? What's the strategy?


Chase the high-glory rewards (e.g. milestones), play tightly and efficiently, tactically raid or otherwise act to prevent others (especially the current leader) from winning/achieving those high-glory rewards first. When they're locked out of the win (it sometimes happens), play for any of the various things that carry over (including possibly stealing them from someone else). If you're doing this well, you probably know that the best play is highly situational.

Being the "shark" in my group that's way ahead, I've helped other players plan out some of their early turns and given them general tips on efficiency. In one case, I was able to give a player almost a whole script that he adapted to win a game. I'm open to help them analyze plays during the game (helping someone delay a game end long enough to build their first colony for example).

I'm still likely going to win more often than anyone else (this is the case with most games we play), but objectively they're almost all starting each game with large advantages over me, and it's been several games since I've won.

Quote:

Stay in your harbour and spend the first turn spending the gold on a Building/Upgrade? Buying treasure? The player that won the "have 60 gold" milestone did it on the turn the Pirate King Demanded Gold, so he immediately bought a 4 Glory treasure. I sailed over, raided it, and won the game. So people have chilled on the buying of treasure.


Did you have the last turn? Why didn't someone steal it back from you? Or buy the raid advisor before you and steal it for themselves?

Like, players who don't spot these opportunities are consistently not going to do as well as players who leap on them for sure. But I don't see that as a problem.
 
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Darren Nakamura
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heyvince wrote:
I've heard people talk about these starting bonuses this way, but what is the strategy? How should they be spending them? and more importantly, Why? What's the strategy?


It depends on where you are in the campaign and what your goals are. I have almost exclusively taken gold as my starting bonus. Right now the big milestones we have available require lots of goods, so my strategy has been to have some Buy+ Advisors and to empty the markets before others can get to them.

But maybe your Milestones focus more on raiding/exploring at the moment. In that case, I'd maybe stock up on Fortune tokens. The main thing to keep in mind what your goals are (i.e. what Milestones are available and how close you are to them in relation to your opponents) and play toward that.
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Chris Berger
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heyvince wrote:
I've heard people talk about these starting bonuses this way, but what is the strategy? How should they be spending them? and more importantly, Why? What's the strategy?


It's hard to say exactly what the strategy is in that situation because it consists of the same strategies that one would use in any game and presumably some of the strategies you've used to amass such a huge lead, but with more money/rep/fortune to work with. Even with your 5/5 leader with upgraded fields, with that large of a points lead, the other players can start with more gold, more fortune, more reputation, one of your enmity, and a better kept advisor. Where is the structural advantage you are supposedly getting as the leader?

Quote:
Stay in your harbour and spend the first turn spending the gold on a Building/Upgrade?


You don't necessarily need to stay in harbor. Just buy an upgrade and sail. Next turn, if you're not busy with something else, then buy a building and sail (or buy a building and upgrade at a Docks, if you have enough money for 3 builds). Or buy an upgrade, sail, then raid/collect taxes next turn, and THEN build and buy an upgrade. Or use your money to buy the best advisors. Or something else.

Quote:
Buying treasure? The player that won the "have 60 gold" milestone did it on the turn the Pirate King Demanded Gold, so he immediately bought a 4 Glory treasure. I sailed over, raided it, and won the game. So people have chilled on the buying of treasure.


They probably should have chilled on buying treasure and not defending it. Or on buying treasure, letting you steal it, and then not stealing it back (granted, if you ended the game as last player in turn order, then they wouldn't have had the opportunity, but in most games, after the first (second, depending on how you count) winter, given that you started the game at a huge disadvantage, you should no longer be last in turn order).

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Having extra money speeds up many strategies:
1) If you prefer exploring, buy the +2 upgrade on the first turn before sailing. Or if your money pile is larger, you can also buy a building on the first turn, then buy a second upgrade on the second turn before sailing. (Other players would need to do some money-gathering to match you.)
2) Same with raiding.
3) If you're a builder, the extra seed money makes building a lot easier. With enough bonus money, you can simply buy the hold upgrade you need (if any) and the goods you need for the colony, without trading for income first.
4) If you're a trader, lead off with a marketplace (or several).
5) If your opponents tend to destroy or steal your hard work, invest some money in a garrison structure (or several).

The extra money isn't going to win you the game, but most of those options generate you some quick "head-start" glory, which can give you a definite edge.
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