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Subject: Begging shouldn't hurt you as badly as it does. rss

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I don't own it, but I understand that the new revised version keeps the begging costs the same. For each food you don't have, you lose 3 points. I've always thought that was too high and I really wish they'd have changed it to 2 points.

Don't get me wrong: I like the hardscrabble struggle for existence in Agricola. I like the pressure. I just want a little more variety. I'd like a player to be able to think "Hmmm, losing 4 points here is pretty bad but maybe it's worth it to grab that improvement." As it is, I don't think it's ever worthwhile to beg a little as part of a winning strategy.

(My griping has nothing at all to do with the fact that I just blundered and ended up begging in an online game, something I haven't done in years of playing Agricola. Silly me.)
 
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Dana Dawson
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Food in the new edition is waaaaay easier to get. No need to change begging penalty.
 
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Steven J
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blackholexan wrote:
Food in the new edition is waaaaay easier to get. No need to change begging penalty.


I play the original version. How is it easier to get food in the revise edition?
 
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blackholexan wrote:
Food in the new edition is waaaaay easier to get. No need to change begging penalty.

But that's just saying that you'll never need to beg so don't worry about it. I WANT the game to have the option of begging. I want my decision tree to be broader, with more branches. It's not that I'm afraid of begging (I've almost never had to beg in Agricola) it's that I want the game to make begging a viable choice, if only occasionally.
 
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Markus Pfefferle
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Then just play house-ruled with a lower penalty, if your group agrees with you.
 
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blackholexan wrote:
Food in the new edition is waaaaay easier to get. No need to change begging penalty.


Could you explain this further? I've only ever played the revised edition. I have 4 games in, all with at least 1 person who's never played the game and I've never seen anyone take a begging token. I make sure to always remind people about feeding though, so I just assumed that it's because I just made it clear that it's very important.
 
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skutsch wrote:
blackholexan wrote:
Food in the new edition is waaaaay easier to get. No need to change begging penalty.

But that's just saying that you'll never need to beg so don't worry about it. I WANT the game to have the option of begging. I want my decision tree to be broader, with more branches. It's not that I'm afraid of begging (I've almost never had to beg in Agricola) it's that I want the game to make begging a viable choice, if only occasionally.


Out of curiosity do you really think changing the penalty to -2vp would really create a significant number of scenarios where you would consider begging instead of feeding yourself?

Personally I play a lot on the app, and am a pretty good player. There are certain experts that are even better than I am, but I am an above average player. In over one hundred games I don't think I've ever been in a situation where I wanted to beg.

Now if you changed the penalty to only 2 points instead of 3, I still don't think I'd ever run into a situation where planning on begging would actually be the correct call. At best maybe it would come up every dozen games or so. But that still means 90+ percent of games would be unaffected. Now you could argue that lowering it does open up the decision space a little so you are actually tempted to calculate it, but I guess my point is in practice I still think you'd almost always dismiss the option as being sub-optimal.

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skutsch wrote:
I don't own it, but I understand that the new revised version keeps the begging costs the same. For each food you don't have, you lose 3 points. I've always thought that was too high and I really wish they'd have changed it to 2 points.

Don't get me wrong: I like the hardscrabble struggle for existence in Agricola. I like the pressure. I just want a little more variety. I'd like a player to be able to think "Hmmm, losing 4 points here is pretty bad but maybe it's worth it to grab that improvement." As it is, I don't think it's ever worthwhile to beg a little as part of a winning strategy.

(My griping has nothing at all to do with the fact that I just blundered and ended up begging in an online game, something I haven't done in years of playing Agricola. Silly me.)

I think the Rosenberg you're looking for is LeHavre, where taking loans (the equivalent of begging since you take them when you can't feed your people) is a viable strategy in the game. As much as I love how loans are integrated into LeHavre, I don't think begging should be equally useful in Gric. The whole point is to make their use a nearly fatal mistake. Making them a viable alternative to generating food might make the existing actions which generate food really under-powered.
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Ranior wrote:
skutsch wrote:
blackholexan wrote:
Food in the new edition is waaaaay easier to get. No need to change begging penalty.

But that's just saying that you'll never need to beg so don't worry about it. I WANT the game to have the option of begging. I want my decision tree to be broader, with more branches. It's not that I'm afraid of begging (I've almost never had to beg in Agricola) it's that I want the game to make begging a viable choice, if only occasionally.


Out of curiosity do you really think changing the penalty to -2vp would really create a significant number of scenarios where you would consider begging instead of feeding yourself?

Personally I play a lot on the app, and am a pretty good player. There are certain experts that are even better than I am, but I am an above average player. In over one hundred games I don't think I've ever been in a situation where I wanted to beg.

Now if you changed the penalty to only 2 points instead of 3, I still don't think I'd ever run into a situation where planning on begging would actually be the correct call. At best maybe it would come up every dozen games or so. But that still means 90+ percent of games would be unaffected. Now you could argue that lowering it does open up the decision space a little so you are actually tempted to calculate it, but I guess my point is in practice I still think you'd almost always dismiss the option as being sub-optimal.

"Significant number of scenarios where you would consider begging instead of feeding yourself?" No. Which I think proves my point, that the -3 penalty is too high. If the -2 penalty would prevent the vast majority of people from begging, then why put it at -3? Essentially what Rosenberg has said is that if you beg, you lose. If that's what he wanted, why'd he stick the -3 in at all? Just make begging an auto-lose (which it is anyway).

I don't know if I've played 100 games, maybe, but I've only begged once (my current online absent minded boo boo). Of course good players don't beg, because the way victory points work, begging equals losing.

I'm just arguing that it might be a slightly better game if begging weren't quite so penalized.
 
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grant5 wrote:
skutsch wrote:
I don't own it, but I understand that the new revised version keeps the begging costs the same. For each food you don't have, you lose 3 points. I've always thought that was too high and I really wish they'd have changed it to 2 points.

Don't get me wrong: I like the hardscrabble struggle for existence in Agricola. I like the pressure. I just want a little more variety. I'd like a player to be able to think "Hmmm, losing 4 points here is pretty bad but maybe it's worth it to grab that improvement." As it is, I don't think it's ever worthwhile to beg a little as part of a winning strategy.

(My griping has nothing at all to do with the fact that I just blundered and ended up begging in an online game, something I haven't done in years of playing Agricola. Silly me.)

I think the Rosenberg you're looking for is LeHavre, where taking loans (the equivalent of begging since you take them when you can't feed your people) is a viable strategy in the game. As much as I love how loans are integrated into LeHavre, I don't think begging should be equally useful in Gric. The whole point is to make their use a nearly fatal mistake. Making them a viable alternative to generating food might make the existing actions which generate food really under-powered.

Why would I be looking for Le Havre? I've played it and rated it a 7. I rate Agricola a 10. I vastly prefer Agricola.

I don't think making begging a -2 rather than -3 would make food generation underpowered. I think the number of times you'd want to beg would be rare. The reason I brought up the idea, though, is because I think that with a -2 penalty you might consider begging every now and then (depending on the situation). It would still be a rare action but it might occasionally be viable. As it is, I don't think you can beg even once in a game with good players and hope to win. You call begging a "nearly fatal mistake," I'd argue that, unless you're playing with bad players, it's always a fatal mistake.
 
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skutsch wrote:
grant5 wrote:
skutsch wrote:
I don't own it, but I understand that the new revised version keeps the begging costs the same. For each food you don't have, you lose 3 points. I've always thought that was too high and I really wish they'd have changed it to 2 points.

Don't get me wrong: I like the hardscrabble struggle for existence in Agricola. I like the pressure. I just want a little more variety. I'd like a player to be able to think "Hmmm, losing 4 points here is pretty bad but maybe it's worth it to grab that improvement." As it is, I don't think it's ever worthwhile to beg a little as part of a winning strategy.

(My griping has nothing at all to do with the fact that I just blundered and ended up begging in an online game, something I haven't done in years of playing Agricola. Silly me.)

I think the Rosenberg you're looking for is LeHavre, where taking loans (the equivalent of begging since you take them when you can't feed your people) is a viable strategy in the game. As much as I love how loans are integrated into LeHavre, I don't think begging should be equally useful in Gric. The whole point is to make their use a nearly fatal mistake. Making them a viable alternative to generating food might make the existing actions which generate food really under-powered.

Why would I be looking for Le Havre?

Sorry, that was just my cheeky way of saying LeHavre kind of does what you were talking about. I didn't look at your ratings first. blush

Quote:
You call begging a "nearly fatal mistake," I'd argue that, unless you're playing with bad players, it's always a fatal mistake.

"Nearly" with good players because there are some occs that can help mitigate begging, I believe.
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grant5 wrote:
skutsch wrote:
You call begging a "nearly fatal mistake," I'd argue that, unless you're playing with bad players, it's always a fatal mistake.

"Nearly" with good players because there are some occs that can help mitigate begging, I believe.

Yah, there are. I guess the one thing -3 begging does is make those occupation(s) (is there more than one? memory failing) more valuable. Still, my feeling is that if I was going to use them at -3 I'd use them at -2 too.

I dunno, I just feel like begging.
 
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The points values in Agricola feel so finely tuned that I'm confident different begging card penalties were considered during design and development, concluding that -3 is the correct value. It's a well-oiled machine; tinkering with values here and there will have unexpected effects.
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skutsch wrote:
"Significant number of scenarios where you would consider begging instead of feeding yourself?" No. Which I think proves my point, that the -3 penalty is too high. If the -2 penalty would prevent the vast majority of people from begging, then why put it at -3? Essentially what Rosenberg has said is that if you beg, you lose. If that's what he wanted, why'd he stick the -3 in at all? Just make begging an auto-lose (which it is anyway).


You only lose if playing against other players who manage to avoid making similarly bad mistakes. For beginners or very casual players it would be a ridiculous move to make it an automatic loss.

The penalty means you will not get a good score, but you might still win against other players who make he same mistake or otherwise do very badly.
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woodnoggin wrote:
The points values in Agricola feel so finely tuned that I'm confident different begging card penalties were considered during design and development, concluding that -3 is the correct value. It's a well-oiled machine; tinkering with values here and there will have unexpected effects.

You could be right. I think it's a great game, obviously. Still, even the best designs can have weaknesses. I'd be curious for someone to offer an example showing that -2 would be damaging.
 
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Orion3T wrote:
skutsch wrote:
"Significant number of scenarios where you would consider begging instead of feeding yourself?" No. Which I think proves my point, that the -3 penalty is too high. If the -2 penalty would prevent the vast majority of people from begging, then why put it at -3? Essentially what Rosenberg has said is that if you beg, you lose. If that's what he wanted, why'd he stick the -3 in at all? Just make begging an auto-lose (which it is anyway).


You only lose if playing against other players who manage to avoid making similarly bad mistakes. For beginners or very casual players it would be a ridiculous move to make it an automatic loss.

The penalty means you will not get a good score, but you might still win against other players who make he same mistake or otherwise do very badly.


I can recall a game against less experienced players where I had the Mendicant (original version) in my hand but failed to play him because I wasn't expecting the other player to play an occupation on the last turn.

I still won by a large margin mostly because the other players weren't as experienced but partly because the begging cards I'd taken earlier afforded me the pace to build up my engine without scrambling for a final piece of food in the first couple of harvests.

Changing it from -3 to -2 wouldn't have a massive impact but I think the theme demands it is devastating but give the player some room to claw themselves back. I'm also not fond of knock out games so wouldn't be happy that starving meant someone had to sit out from the second harvest.
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skutsch wrote:

You could be right. I think it's a great game, obviously. Still, even the best designs can have weaknesses. I'd be curious for someone to offer an example showing that -2 would be damaging.


So there seems to be two main cases here:

1. Changing to -2 from -3 has almost no impact on the game. I personally believe this would be the case. Sure perhaps it means a few newer and more casual players manage to get by with a few less negative points than they otherwise normally would have been able to, but among high level players I suspect a -2 penalty per food missing is still too large for anyone to plan on taking. Given the math we have for Agricola, in general if you're managing 2 points per action you're going to do very well. (Even without family growth that is 28 actions in the game putting you at 56 points gained, take off the starting negatives and you're still looking at a respectable score). The "worst" spot on the board is possibly Day Laborer which provides a measly 2 food per action. Therefore if you are even one food short, going to day laborer is essentially a 2 point play in skutsch's proposal which is still a very strong play. There may be a few cases where you would consider something else compared to a -3 penalty, but the vast majority of the time the game would play out the same.

2. Alternatively it may be such that changing the penalty opens up a new line of play where you are able to ignore food occasionally. If players discover that they can avoid food sometimes and just shrug off the negative points, then the carefully balanced food economy in the game could be put on tilt. The scramble to ensure feeding may not be as strong and that has potentially disastrous outcomes for the tension of the game and the balance between different actions and resources.


Either way I just don't agree with seeing a positive change in the game in this case. I get the idea that currently planning to beg is never a good idea. I like the thought that the decision space could be even larger by making begging an occasional option, but I fear that opening up that decision space will have unwanted consequences on the fine balance of the rest of the game. So if you're going to make begging viable in some cases, I think you'd have to make it so that it only happened very rarely. I'm not convinced there is an integer for begging that would work to achieve such an effect. Beyond that though, I still am not convinced then that it would be a positive addition to the game since it would only rarely be impactful.

With all that being said, I'm not opposed to hearing others try it out and report on their experiences with it. I would even give it a go someday but I so rarely play in real life anymore and app plays won't work.



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John Wells
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The game's tagline says it all: the 17th Century was not an easy time to be a farmer.

-3 points per begging card is exactly how it should be. Agricola is all about scratching out a living from the land, and often making hard choices like eating your one vegetable you were hoping to plant next round or eating one of those two sheep you hoped to breed to avoid a begging card. This is what makes Agricola great (or awful, depending on your point of view).

Truth told, though, in ~20 live games I've played, I have never seen someone take a begging card. The threat of -3 points in a game where 30-50 can be a winning score is enough to force players to avoid begging.

As for the notion that it's easier to feed in the revised edition, I am inclined to agree, but only because the limited card selection offers relatively strong cards. A "greatest hits" of sorts, if you will. Feeding will probably become a little harder with future deck expansions.
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So the card is just fine at -3 even though the only time it ever gets used is if you have a card that cancels begging? Why not make it -4 or -5. I mean, it never gets used, it might as well be -10?

I really don't understand folks resistance to this (brilliant) idea of mine. Some people have argued (correctly I think) that -2 would get used rarely. That strongly suggests that the -3 was overdone and that -2 might be a better option, because even that wouldn't get used much.

Let me spell it out: Agricola is not perfect. Uwe Rosenberg is not perfect. There may be things about his game that can be improved. (I hope that wasn't too shocking for everyone.)
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Come think of it, I think -3 is a perfect number. A stiff enough penalty that you really don't want one, but an expert player might take a begging card if doing so sets him up for the rest of the game.

Say, through card assistance and/or the 5-er animals space I find myself with 2 pigs, 2 cows, and space to keep them at the end of round 9, but I'm 1 food short. That's a well oiled food engine! I might swallow a begging card to keep it intact. There's a lot to be said for having 5 rounds to play and your food issues solved. But it's still a tough call, and 2 begging cards is probably not worth it. At -2 points it's kind of a no-brainer, take the beg. -4 or -5, on the other hand, is probably too stiff a penalty.

By no means do I think Agricola is perfect, but I really think Use got this part right.
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skutsch wrote:
Let me spell it out: Agricola is not perfect. Uwe Rosenberg is not perfect. There may be things about his game that can be improved. (I hope that wasn't too shocking for everyone.)

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papasatyr wrote:
Come think of it, I think -3 is a perfect number. A stiff enough penalty that you really don't want one, but an expert player might take a begging card if doing so sets him up for the rest of the game.

Say, through card assistance and/or the 5-er animals space I find myself with 2 pigs, 2 cows, and space to keep them at the end of round 9, but I'm 1 food short. That's a well oiled food engine! I might swallow a begging card to keep it intact. There's a lot to be said for having 5 rounds to play and your food issues solved. But it's still a tough call, and 2 begging cards is probably not worth it. At -2 points it's kind of a no-brainer, take the beg. -4 or -5, on the other hand, is probably too stiff a penalty.

By no means do I think Agricola is perfect, but I really think Use got this part right.

Well argued. I'm not entirely convinced, but well argued.
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