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Polis: Fight for the Hegemony» Forums » General

Subject: Good for a non-wargamer and newbie euro player? rss

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Justin Rizzo
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So, I'm not a big war gamer. And I don't own any Euro's yet. Most of the games I play are with my wife. We enjoy planning and games with strategy. However, we don't want to be knee deep in rules and aren't intrigued with "points salad" games.

Is this too deep of a game to jump into? We were looking at La Granja and Agricola, but I love Greek history, and this just intrigues me.
 
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Michel Ouimet
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The step could be a bit high, may be not. I recommend that you first look at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc8Nk_Ng-S8.

If you find the game easily digestible, go on. :-)
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Andrew MacLeod
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And when, exactly, are we playing Churchill again?
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Well, a war-game Polis most definitely ain't: the combat is far too abstract for that. The rules are somewhat complicated, but not overly so; and you won't find anything of a point-salad nature here, either.

Having said all that, Polis is a very unique beast and I know of no other game quite like it. You will find it extremely frustrating the first few times you play it: after every turn you will feel like you've made a catastrophic error. And everything you do will feel soooo costly....because it is!

Conclusion? In spite of not being overly complicated rules-wise, Polis is a very, very difficult game to both play and play well. From what you said in your post, Justin, I think Agricola might be a better choice for now. Plunge into Polis later.

But yes, your impressions were correct: it is a very well-themed game about the Peloponnesian Wars.

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Justin Rizzo
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A two hour "how to play" seems...long. Is this game that complicated?
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Andrew MacLeod
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And when, exactly, are we playing Churchill again?
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JustinRRizzo wrote:
A two hour "how to play" seems...long. Is this game that complicated?


No, it's not. The video is sort of a combined how-to-play/play-through combo, with every possible example of what might happen illustrated in some detail. Great though it is, I'm not sure if this video would be very helpful to you.
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Michel Ouimet
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JustinRRizzo wrote:
A two hour "how to play" seems...long. Is this game that complicated?

The game itself is not that complicated, but the decisions you have to make every round require quite deep thinking, so playing takes a certain time. I know well the game and still allow it at least 3 hours.
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Justin Rizzo
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Thanks for the information gentlemen. One final question.

If games like Agricola were a 5 in difficulty to learn, how much higher would this be on top of that?

I'm willing to do the work to learn to play it, and to convince my wife to play it, but I'd like to know how much work each of those will be compared to other more popular euros.

My plan has been to start us on Castles of Burgundy, then Agricola, then something like this.
 
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Andrew MacLeod
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I'd give it a 7 or 8, maybe.

Mind you, the mechanics in Agricola are quite abstracted from the theme: you don't really feel all that much like you're setting up an Early Modern farm.

That's most definitely not the case in Polis; and I find the closer the connection to the theme that a game's mechanics have, the more intuitive is the game-play.
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Ric Bernat
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JustinRRizzo wrote:
I'm willing to do the work to learn to play it, and to convince my wife to play it, but I'd like to know how much work each of those will be compared to other more popular euros.

My plan has been to start us on Castles of Burgundy, then Agricola, then something like this.

Polis is a great game, but it's simply brutal. I really wouldn't recommend playing it with one's wife. I've played Polis dozens of times, and when I lose I usually come out of it feeling raw and a little bitter. LOL - your marriage is more important.

Castles of Burgundy sounds great, and plenty of others, like maybe La Granja.
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Morten K
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If you haven't played any euros yet then Agricola and La Granja can be quite hard too. But when it comes to theme and setting they can alleviate that lot if they appeal to you. Why do you want Gric or La Granja instead? They are very different in many ways. I wouldn't say Polis is harder to learn than La Granja because the mechanisms feel thematic which they do not at all in La Granja which is a hodgepodge of mechanisms.
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Juhan Voolaid
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Why would you choose to try Polis in the first place?

I agree this game might be too much for you. While it is very abstract for real war game, it is still very big in direct conflict. This aspect is often absent in modern Euro games. So there are some rules complexity, the decision tree is quite deep and it is very confrontational game. You are at each others throat from start to finish. I am always exhausted after this game. This game is not for chilling :)

But as I asked, why the interest to this game? If you want a lighter experience where there still is war in the same era, I'd recommend Antike Duellum. It has more Euro elements, but has conflict as well. Polis can be next step up after that.
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If you are looking at Castles of Burgundy, Agricola, La Granja and Polis, well...

Castles of Burgundy is not really hard to learn. The actions are pretty straight-forward. Handling the goods and the ships might be a little tricky at first, but you'll get that soon enough. Playing it well will take a little time, but should not be too complicated either. Playing it very well takes quite some time, though.

Agricola would be a step up in difficulty. While the core actions are not that hard to learn, there are a little more details to things, and more variables to control. What you need to learn here is to read the options, and get used to the game flow. The game can be very satisfying even without winning it (after all, you build your own farm), but playing it well takes some time.
Don't be overwhelmed by the rulebook - most is just about the cards, and you won't see many of those in any given game, anyways...


La Granja is on par with Agricola in learning the game, I'd say. Learning to play it well, however, is different. Here, you need to string together your actions, otherwise you won't get anywhere in the game. While Agricola is about strategy, as well (once you know how the game flows), La Granja is more abstract in what you do, and I would also say neccessitates more forward planning. The dice, here, are important, but you need to learn to plan around the dice, not rely on them. That is different in Agricola, where almost everything is scripted.

Polis, then, is a beast.
Not in terms of rules - they are a little more involved than either La Granja or Agricola - but in terms of learning how to play it well. This game has a very steep and frustrating learning curve. If you have an experienced opponent, you can learn to master the curve quicker, but learning the game together with your opponent will take a little more time. It will feel like you cannot do anything in the beginning, as the restrictions only leave narrow wiggle room at first. But once you learn how to string together actions, you will be able to escape these constricting elements.
Polis, unfortunately, leaves you without any guidelines as to what to do, actually (as opposed to the other three games), or how to form a strategy. Combined with all the possible options, it can be overwhelming. And also, you will learn that it is highly interactive, as each action of your opponent will need careful consideration, influencing what you have to do during your turn.
One last hint regarding the game - Athens is way harder to play well than Sparta, as the Spartan strategy comes more natural to the players (build armies, control land territories). Athens plays more subtle, and it might take some time until the Athens player truly grasps what he has to do in order to win. The game IS balanced, but unfortunately, the learning curve for both sides is not...

If you want an easier 2-player-game of similar thematic setting, I'd say that Antike Duellum is a good fit. However, in gameplay it is much more limited and straight-forward. Ultimately, Polis will provide the deeper, more satisfying game (if you are into deep strategy and heavy thinking), with many more variables to be considered, but only if you weather the frustrating learning curve(s). Antike Duellum, though, might be a good starting point, as it has not that many rules, and they are not really complicated (maybe on par with Castles of Burgundy)...
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Justin Rizzo
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[q="Dumon"] Polis, then, is a beast.
Not in terms of rules - they are a little more involved than either La Granja or Agricola - but in terms of learning how to play it well. This game has a very steep and frustrating learning curve. If you have an experienced opponent, you can learn to master the curve quicker, but learning the game together with your opponent will take a little more time. It will feel like you cannot do anything in the beginning, as the restrictions only leave narrow wiggle room at first. But once you learn how to string together actions, you will be able to escape these constricting elements./q]

This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you. From what I have read, the game has rules that are not overly (wargame like) complex. Which appeals to me. It is a brutal head-to-head. Which appeals to me. It's theme strongly appeals to me. I'm trying to acquire a few euro games, and the themes almost never appeal to me.

I acquired interest in Polis as a combo trade deal. It's not something I would choose to start with. It's something I would choose to buy because I'm getting a good deal on it and I would want to play it down the road (after introducing my wife to euro economic games like Castles of Hamburgers and Agricola, where she can care for her "cute" animals).

You explanation was perfect. I am going to go ahead with the trade and shelve this game until I'm ready for it. I can't pass up on the theme. As long as it's not a constant rule referencing wargame, we will be fine learning to play it, and even more happy to learn to play it well over many, many plays.
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Juhan Voolaid
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I think what we all meant to say was - don't do it. Don't play it with your wife :D

But do get this game. It's fantastic for what it does.
 
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Alan Richbourg
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JustinRRizzo wrote:
I am going to go ahead with the trade and shelve this game until I'm ready for it. I can't pass up on the theme. As long as it's not a constant rule referencing wargame, we will be fine learning to play it, and even more happy to learn to play it well over many, many plays.

Going ahead with the trade is definitely the right move. Polis may be the best game I've seen in years. It's an amazing design. I tried to resist buying one, but after a few plays I have to have it. Rules are easy to memorize and remember after a game or two, so it's not like a wargame in that regard. It IS like a wargame in that it is a straight up, in your face fight (military and economic), with direct conflict (and other kinds of competition) at the fore. Makes it a no-go with my wife, probably, hopefully not yours. Interest in and even knowledge of the theme (ancient Greece in general but specifically the Peloponnesian War) will make it more enjoyable and easier to play, and will even inform your strategy.
 
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Justin Rizzo
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Jux_ wrote:
I think what we all meant to say was - don't do it. Don't play it with your wife

But do get this game. It's fantastic for what it does.


My wife and I are very competitive. We enjoy beating up on each other. We don't mind "in your face" games. She can, at times, get frustrated if she gets completely demolished, but she also revels when she demolishes me, so it evens out.

I'll just play Athens until she is comfortable with the game, since Sparta is apparently easier to do well with when you are a new player.
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Michel Ouimet
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On the long run, Athens could be harder to manage, but in the first turn (specially the very first moves) against a "no mercy" opponent, I find that Sparta has a very narrow path to follow in order to start the second turn in good position. Namely, if Sparta fails to get a big city (Korinthos is the worthiest) on its first move, then he gives his/her opponent a big advantage that will prove difficult to overcome.
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