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Subject: General musings and figuring out combat tactics (without site of the rules) rss

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Gabriel Cross
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This post is a bit all over the place but just wanted to share some thoughts. I feel tentatively excited about this kickstarter and have been considering dropping my pledge but think I will stick it out. Hopefully the rules will be released sooner rather than later so that I can make a more informed decision before the end of the campaign.

I didn't back Blood Rage but, having played it, I'm glad I didn't as, while I believe it to be a very good game, it's not a game that I want to own, though I'd be happy to play it again. I feel that the miniatures in Blood Rage, while outstanding sculpts, are somewhat overproduced. The game, in my view, would be better with much smaller miniatures as they feel to me as just "place holders". I don't know why having specific spots for the figures in each area makes such a difference to me (for example, Cthulhu Wars, which I absolutely love, is a similar "dudes on a map" experience with big mini's but I feel that the massively overproduced miniatures in CW really make that game shine whereas in BR they seem unnecessary).

With Rising Sun, the miniatures really look amazing. But I am concerned that I (and my gaming group) won't enjoy the actual game. From what one can glean are the basic rules from the videos, to me it appears to have more in common with Dogs of War than the other games that people have compared it to (BR, CitOW, Dimplomacy, etc). While many of my friends love Dogs of War, I didn't really enjoy it and am selling my copy.

That being said, I really do enjoy negotiation in games. From the video it appears that one may be able to trade a number of resources with other players (money and (empty) promises obviously but possibly also ronin tokens and certain cards). I would certainly be pleased if the game allows that freedom for players to come up with interesting deals.

In regard to combat in this game, I'm glad that this is not a war game where one simply rolls dice or just compares combat values. I absolutely love that there can be multiple clans all fighting each other at the same time, which many games avoid preferring to have only one-on-one combat. I also like many bidding games and think that the (somewhat innovative?) idea of bidding on the four different War Advantages seems really cool but I've been struggling to conceptualize how that would actually work in practice (i.e. what one should "go for" in a given combat) and whether battles would be exciting at all.

I try to imagine a battle involving several clans (some of which are in an alliance). I presume you would total the starting Force of each clan (but don't add the alliance Force totals together). Then players announce their coin and ronin token totals. Then players secretly bid on their War Advantage tracks.

Seppuku is clearly the best option for clans with low Force that don't foresee winning the battle (as they will lose their units anyway). If they win the bid, they lose the coins they bid but will gain honour and VPs and (a portion of) whatever coins the winner(s) bid. However, the dominant clan or alliance might bid here too just to prevent the weaker clans from getting those advantages.

Take Hostage looks like it will mainly be used against monsters. It also appears to be attractive mainly to the weaker clans. A marginally weaker clan could swing the Force totals in their favour by capturing a powerful monster (capturing a Dragon for example may seem a little weird but would be quite effective!) and a much weaker clan could use this simply to harass the stronger one by stealing a powerful unit (and a VP). Again, the stronger clan would probably only bid here to avoid the weaker ones from getting this advantage.

Hire Ronin's usefulness would obviously depend on how many ronin tokens the players have. I believe you cannot purchase ronin tokens with this advantage but simply add the ones that you already have to your Force total (presumably the Koi clan only gets to add the ronin tokens it has spare - i.e. not those tokens it used to bid). I think these tokens are not spent and can be used to bolster further battles that turn. In close combats, this advantage would be very useful. Combined with the Take Hostage advantage, the original Force totals could change quite dramatically with clever bidding.

Imperial Poets becomes more lucrative the more figures are involved in the conflict (especially if these are on the weaker side). It obviously combo's well with Seppuku but could also be used by the stronger force to both deny the opponent VPs and net some of their own.

What is at the moment unclear is how combat is ultimately resolved. Presumably, the clan (not alliance?) with the highest Force total (highest honour breaking ties) kills all of the opposing (non-allied) clans' figures with weaker Force totals. The losers lose the coins they bid and share in the coins bid by the winner. The winner gets the card/tile for the area, which counts to end of game scoring, their figures (that weren't captured) survive and they keep control of the area (and so can benefit from harvesting in the next season).

So most of the War Advantages appear to favour the clans with weaker Force. Added to this, the stronger clan has an incentive not to bid too much as, if they win, this will just fuel the ability of the losers in future battles that turn. So, assuming that there are not sufficient ronin to make a difference, the stronger clan will generally spend their coins just to prevent the weaker clan from committing seppuku, taking hostages or getting VPs from the poets. Having a monster or two in the area might make winning the hostage advantage to be the most important.

From the losers perspective, just having one figure in a contested area (especially one fought early in the sequence of battles) seems like a good idea most of the time. Though it is unlikely to survive the combat, it compels the stronger player to commit coins to a battle, even if they are guaranteed to win it, and might reward the losing player with honour, VPs, coins and possible a valuable hostage.

The calculating, bluffing and second guessing involved in each bid might take some time (especially for AP prone players like myself) but there are only three combat phases in a game and the involved players are all deciding at the same time so that should compensate for this somewhat.

Its a pity that it doesn't appear that players can form or break alliances during combat as that would add another opportunity for persuasive negotiators or timely betrayers to change the dynamics of things.

In a nushell, it appears that in battles where the involved clans are quite close to each other in Force values and there is no guaranteed winner, that combat might be quite exciting and that the outcome of the bidding on the War Advantages could turn the tide of battle. Where the stronger clan is very dominant, battles will be less exciting but become a game of the losing player trying to extract as much of an advantage in honour, VPs, captives and money as they can from the winner.

Anyway, those are my thoughts so far...
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Moritz Hampel
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Good assessment so far ...

StupidGabe wrote:

Its a pity that it doesn't appear that players can form or break alliances during combat as that would add another opportunity for persuasive negotiators or timely betrayers to change the dynamics of things.


Don't agree with this, though. I think it's very elegant that betrayals can only happen via the mandates and alliances begin and end during the tea ceremony otherweise.
Mid-combat betrayals I think would cause too much chaos, I think.
 
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Jesse Marzel
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I agree with your assesments - it does seem like there would be differing priorities in combat, and that each player would like to get as much as he can from it.

What I like best about it is how much incentive there is to participate in each combat - since there's always something to gain and very little to lose, and it's better to be in a fight and lose it than to have no fights
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BG.EXE
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Mid combat betrayals would also mean there's no thought involved when making an alliance. The way it exists, there's a drawback. You have consequences to making an alliance. It's 1000% better this way.
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Dave Sands
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Mutter wrote:
Good assessment so far ...

StupidGabe wrote:

Its a pity that it doesn't appear that players can form or break alliances during combat as that would add another opportunity for persuasive negotiators or timely betrayers to change the dynamics of things.


Don't agree with this, though. I think it's very elegant that betrayals can only happen via the mandates and alliances begin and end during the tea ceremony otherweise.
Mid-combat betrayals I think would cause too much chaos, I think.


During the Spring Season in the gameplay video the Turtle clan took its ally's Oni hostage during a three way battle (Turtle and Koi vs. Lotus) and eventually gained the province for herself. Would this not constitute a betrayal during combat of sorts?
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Mike Beiter
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I am really confused by combat.

I would like to see the combat rules because the concept of a unit's individual power does not seem to translate.
At least from what I see in the playthrough video.

Each battle seems to be decided by honorable suicide or a capture.
Unless I am missing something, no battle ever comes down to each force "clashing" with the strongest army winning.

It's always, "eek, we're at a disadvantage! (Falls on sword)"
Or "eek, we're at a disadvantage, let's take his unit hostage!"

I see people hiring ronin, but it seems irrelevant because by the time they are hired, one army allready killed itself by seppuku.

I am hoping for battles where both sides think they can win by force and the winner is determined by might and their ronin.
Not just one side looking more threatening and the other dying.

If anyone has insight, please clarify for me.

 
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Chris
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From what I gather, you play out the actions on the war track, whoever bids the most on each will get to execute that action. Whoever is left with the strongest force wins that region and gets to take the card for it (I think that's how the guy won in the end of the video, he had the most cards which added up to a lot). Not sure how much each unit is worth, but the river dragon for example is 5, I'd guess a bushi is 1, etc.
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Pietro Pomella
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MajaiofDreams wrote:

Unless I am missing something, no battle ever comes down to each force "clashing" with the strongest army winning.


I think you are not wrong based on what we saw so far, but also that this might only the case when there are just two clans involved in a battle. With 3+, it should be easier to get to an actual showdown.
It also depends on player strategies I guess: if multiple players are going for territorial conquest aiming for the big endgame bonuses, it might be the case that they have stronger incentives to try and win fights despite the risks. In the game we saw, one player didn't seem too focused on conquest (turtle), and another was definitely pursuing the "lose battles gain glory with virtues" strategy. Hence only two players were *really* fighting over the regions, which in a 4-player match meant they could maneuver around each other well enough. At least that's the impression I got.


Also and perhaps more importantly, I think it is a lovely representation of the art of war in practice: only go for an actual field battle when you know that you will win. Seems quite reasonable after all, we are not talking about seeking death in combat and Valhalla here!. Actually now that I think about it I quite like the concept, I'm just not sure whether I will like it practice.
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Mike Beiter
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Nice summaries.

I hope to see more fights where it comes down to actual might.

"Ok, I have 3 might in units plus 5 ronin for a total of 8."
"Ha! I have one might in units but summoned 8 ronin! I win!"

I guess time will tell...
 
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Mr. Octavius
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The game seems to be much more focused on preparing for battle than the battle itself. The battle itself is ultimately kind of boring: compare two numbers and the highest wins. The preparation for the battles is where the fun and interesting decisions are.
The recruitment phase is about picking your battle field, convincing players to go somewhere else, and increasing your strength (through units, training, or gold) so that people will be less likely to want to fight you.
The war advantages are about reading your opponent and guessing what they will bid on and how much. If you are going to lose you want your opponent to spend as much gold as possible to stop actions you're not even bidding on to get more coins, if you're going to win you want to spend a minimum amount of coins to do so.
You want to make you opponents think you're stronger than you are so they don't bother fighting you, or over invest in a battle, while not making yourself look to strong so that people gang up on you.

I like that seppuku and imperial poets allow you to gain a benefit for a battle even if you don't win, instead of having to win every battle to gain value from it. If something changes in the last turn before war and suddenly you're in a bad position, you still have something you can try to do.

I don't like how weak the monsters seem to be in combat. Why would I spend 5 coins on a hugely powerful river serpent, when my opponent can just spend 5 coins to take it hostage, and I lose all that power? Not only do I have to dump a lot of coins to get the monster, I also have to dump a lot on the 'take hostage' advantage in order to make sure I can actually use it. Monsters with abilities for the political phase seem great, but if I'm dropping a big monster on the table I want to be able to send it into battle and they're just too easily neutralized for that.

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Shanti Massey
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MajaiofDreams wrote:
I am really confused by combat.

I would like to see the combat rules because the concept of a unit's individual power does not seem to translate.
At least from what I see in the playthrough video.

Each battle seems to be decided by honorable suicide or a capture.
Unless I am missing something, no battle ever comes down to each force "clashing" with the strongest army winning.

It's always, "eek, we're at a disadvantage! (Falls on sword)"
Or "eek, we're at a disadvantage, let's take his unit hostage!"

I see people hiring ronin, but it seems irrelevant because, by the time they are hired, one army already killed itself by seppuku.

I am hoping for battles where both sides think they can win by force and the winner is determined by might and their ronin.
Not just one side looking more threatening and the other dying.

If anyone has insight, please clarify for me.



Well, the winner is always te side with the highest force at the end of the four actions. It's true that Seppuku, Take Hostages, and Hire Ronin actions have a big influence on this, but it's pretty circumstantial. If you have a swarm of Ronin, then them taking a hostage is not going to sway much. If you have a big monster, then Take Hostage will take a big chunk out of your force.

It then comes down to the classic "I know that you know that I know." The result is more about correctly guessing the enemy action than it is about having more dudes then the enemy. That's something I really like, but Ican see other people not liking it.
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Private Blinky
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One other thing that we didn't see too much of within the gameplay video was the efforts to simply deny of a player prevent them the action of their choice during resolution of a war. If I find myself in a battle with force superiority and higher honor, I may want to invest in an action just to try to stop the opponent from doing the same.

It did happen at least once and was quite notable even, during the last battle of the spring season, where Lotus removed themselves via seppuku, and only Koi and Turtle were remaining and still allied with each other. The Turtle player did the right thing by matching the Koi's capture bid, not just so she could do it but also to deny her 'ally' the exact same ability, because had she not matched the bid, it likely would of been her unit that was captured instead (or the Koi would press bargaining power to not capture in trade for a 'favour' later in the game)

I can see with more experienced play that players can adopts strategic war bidding that will allow more battles and direct force elimination to eventually resolve, like the means to deny a weak-forced player from performing something similar to the 'virtuous seppuku' combo engine the Lotus player had developed.
 
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Becq
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I think the battles are a bit more subtle that the top post gives credit for. There are several competing factors involved in determining the final force comparison:
* Actual force on the board
* Additional force in terms of Ronin
* Potential losses to seppuku
* Potential losses to capture.
All of these factors must be resolved before that final force comparison, and they all depend heavily on the bids made.

Let's say, for example, that faction A has 4 force on the board, plus 2 Ronin. Faction B has 3 force, plus 2 ronin. Who will win? Well, we don't know yet.

If faction B wins the Ronin bid, then he wins 5-4. To stop this, faction A has to try to win the Ronin bid, even though he doesn't actually need his Ronin to win. Or he could win the hostage bid, and take B's 2-force Oni hostage, and win 4-3 even without the Ronin. Since B can't benefit directly from hostage (since A's force comes from an upgraded Daimyo with strength 4), A might figure he can win the hostage bid cheap. But B knows this, and might place a blocking bid. So *clearly* he can't choose the wine in front of him...

The Seppuku bid is something of a hedge bid, allowing you to convert a loss into a benefit. Or to prevent your opponent from doing the same. The interesting thing there is that you don't need to decide until the bids are revealed.

And another major factor is available coins. If you have more coins than your opponent, then you can *guarantee* winning at least one bid, but probably not all bids. So there's a game involved in that: what's the minimum you think you can get away with bidding? And your opponent is making the same guess, any trying to figure out what bid he might be able to win an advantage from... And to make it worse (or better), there might be other battles coming up -- is it better to throw away your cash to win this battle, or save some for the next? Or even throw this battle completely, to gain some extra coinage for the next battle? In which case you want to make your opponent *think* your all in, so he'll spend more coins...

Once the bids are revealed, there is not really any more hidden information. The winner of the Seppuku knows how the battle will turn out, and can make his decision based on that. The winner of the hostage bid can choose his victim based on 'perfect' knowledge. By the time the battle actually occurs (assuming any combatants are left), the result is a forgone conclusion. No random results, no dice, no bonus cards. And that's not a bad thing. The results are completely tactical, and based heavily on the blind bid.
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Fel Barros
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Rising Sun combat is another layer of learning curve that takes a while to master as there is not much set in stone.

"Why I would pay 5 for a River Dragon if he is being take hostage later on?"

River Dragon is scary and might make enemies give up on fighting you. Also, you might be Bonsai and get it for free or you just managed to get a good harvest and you have money to defend it when it comes to war or you just place your river dragon in your last battle so you will have enough money to protect it...

What I am trying to say it's that Rising Sun has a lot of depth. Everything that looks simple or busted on the surface has more to it than meet the eyes at a first glance. Our first timers usually end up the first game wanting to play again because they did so many 'mistakes'.

Remember also that , while you can't give money to anyone during war or break alliances, you can talk freely (like seen in the gameplay video where Koi and Turtle did an arrangement) . That alone gives a lot of maneuver room like a player letting a province .. giving money through bid.. etc

Finally, if you pick seppuku you are forfeiting the biggest source of vps in the game (provinces' control) , so it's always a tough call. Specially if you have ronins where you can swing the battle to your side. Also remember that board presence is a pretty important feature of the game as a player without forces might suffer from harvest and marshaling.

You can have two big forces fighting over a province but it is usually when it boils down to a 5th or 7th province that both players need to get the better bonus.

Battles who have clear winners have their own incentives as well, you can try to go for the extra money, take a hostage to profit next season, maybe the imperial poets and seppuku to squeeze the vps... and the clear winner needs to balance those needs as the money changing hands is a very dangerous proposition.

All in all, RS follows suit with old school games in the sense of being a very simple game but with great depth.

EDIT: Combat flow:

-Only happens if you have non-allied players at the current province
-All players bid for the 4 spots
-Check for winners in order, from left to right (first Seppuku, then Take Hostage, then Hire Ronin).
-Before Imperial Poets, check for winner
-losers not allied with the winner loses all figures on the board.
-Resolve Imperial Poets
-Losers throw away all their money.
-Winner split their money between all losing players as evenly as possible

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Isaac Wilkinson
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I think what you're missing Mike is that actions are done in order. So despite bidding blind, before anyone does anything you can see all your opponents options eg they won hire Ronin, so depending on their Ronin available you might want to back down and use the sepuku you won the bid for, or if you were to take a hostage dragon you would win, unless they used all Ronin (say in the first fight) so you may not want to sepuku, but instead take a hostage and force the other player to either use all Ronin or none and effectively forefit
 
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Mike Beiter
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I think all the above are excellent points, and I agree 100% on paper. I love that layer of secretly outbidding the enemy in the 4 stages before swords clash etc. Expecting a win, but having a capture or ronan hire turn the tide!

My concerns stem from the playthrough video where results were 95% of the time determined by Seppuku or Capture. It did not have that subtle tactical feel to me.
People went into nearly every battle just killing themselves and completely removing the excitement. It was like no one wanted to try to win.

It seemed like in each fight, one player gave up immediately and just tried to get vp from seppuku.

Personally I want to see more battles where both players go in thinking "I can win this! I will outwhit my foe by clever placement of coin and ultimately sieze victory!"

But that was not ever the case it was always, "Well, I'm not winning this, (THRUST)"
I was calling every battles outcome at the start.
The very final battle was the only one that was interesting and actually looked fun.

So I hope further games have combat that is less predictable.

I love the concept behind the battle system and really hope it doesn't always come down to seppuku.
 
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Isaac Wilkinson
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Yeah, I guess I can see what you're saying. I guess it comes down to the type of players too. Unless it's strongly beneficial, I don't think I'll throw in the towel a lot, but others might
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Mike Beiter
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WolfMonkey wrote:
Yeah, I guess I can see what you're saying. I guess it comes down to the type of players too. Unless it's strongly beneficial, I don't think I'll throw in the towel a lot, but others might


That's exactly what I'm saying. Personally, if I have even a remote chance of winning, I'm going to try to. But some people are not risk takers and want to play it safe.

I am curious as to the experience level of the players in the video.
I got the vibe that the Turtle clan player was new to the game.

Lotus did a ton of seppuku but she had a great virtue combo to augment it. In her situation it worked. Had she tried to win just one more territory, she would have had the game.

Ultimately Koi won, and it was largely in part due to his combat success.
Granted nearly all wins were due to his foes committing seppuku but I'm not going to beat a dead horse.

I think that particular video was not your typical game as far as combats go.

At least I hope it isn't...
 
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Blake Bush
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MajaiofDreams wrote:
WolfMonkey wrote:
Yeah, I guess I can see what you're saying. I guess it comes down to the type of players too. Unless it's strongly beneficial, I don't think I'll throw in the towel a lot, but others might


That's exactly what I'm saying. Personally, if I have even a remote chance of winning, I'm going to try to. But some people are not risk takers and want to play it safe.

I am curious as to the experience level of the players in the video.
I got the vibe that the Turtle clan player was new to the game.

Lotus did a ton of seppuku but she had a great virtue combo to augment it. In her situation it worked. Had she tried to win just one more territory, she would have had the game.

Ultimately Koi won, and it was largely in part due to his combat success.
Granted nearly all wins were due to his foes committing seppuku but I'm not going to beat a dead horse.

I think that particular video was not your typical game as far as combats go.

At least I hope it isn't...


The large majority of the battles that the Koi player was in were hugely in his favor and there was really no point in fighting. The game is fairly deterministic so there isn't much reason to fight a battle that you are going to lose anyways. I have no issue with this anyways and prefer it to a big slugfest.
 
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Brian C
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I don't recall seeing players in the video trying to outbid to prevent Seppukku. A couple of coins could block a lot of points...
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Mr. Octavius
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Propbuddha wrote:
I don't recall seeing players in the video trying to outbid to prevent Seppukku. A couple of coins could block a lot of points...


I know I saw it once or twice, someone won on seppuku but didn't use it.
 
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Mike Beiter
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If I were at that table, I'd definitely be doing everything I could to block seppuku since people were using it soooo much.
 
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Mr. Octavius
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MajaiofDreams wrote:
If I were at that table, I'd definitely be doing everything I could to block seppuku since people were using it soooo much.


But in doing so you are giving them more coins. If you have another war with them later in the phase that may just give them the edge they need to beat you. For that matter if you have any wars later in the phase you now have less coins to bid with.

It's all an evaluation of 'What's more important? Blocking this one player from getting 2 or 3 points? Or keeping these 2 or 3 coins for my next battle?' Which will change from battle to battle.
 
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Mike Beiter
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Maebon wrote:
MajaiofDreams wrote:
If I were at that table, I'd definitely be doing everything I could to block seppuku since people were using it soooo much.


But in doing so you are giving them more coins. If you have another war with them later in the phase that may just give them the edge they need to beat you. For that matter if you have any wars later in the phase you now have less coins to bid with.

It's all an evaluation of 'What's more important? Blocking this one player from getting 2 or 3 points? Or keeping these 2 or 3 coins for my next battle?' Which will change from battle to battle.


Oh, I totally agree. You have to take the whole phase into consideration.
If its the final battle for example. Vs. an early one.
Or if it's your only battle.
 
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