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Vast: The Crystal Caverns» Forums » Rules

Subject: Have only played once but I'm pretty sure this isn't the way it's supposed to go. rss

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Andrew
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So we tried our first game of Vast today and...it could have gone better. We didn't go in unprepared -- I read the entire rulebook and felt like I had a good understanding of all the roles broadly, and my assigned role (cave) specifically. I had read it was one of the harder ones, and also as a GM-like role I felt that it would go best if I were in this one. We played with Knight, Goblins, Dragon, and the Cave.

First off, we got several small rules wrong. The dragon was clearing a sloth cube for every revealed tile, instead of every revealed ambush tile. I had a few basic questions about my rockslide abilities. I had a question about crystal TILES vs. crystal TOKENS (does the knight smashing a crystal token do anything for the cave's victory condition?) Even the knight player, despite being very tired, pretty much played the role as competently as you'd expect.

We kept running into exception after exception with the goblin player. We still don't understand scattering, had questions about revealing/activating, and in short royally loused up that player in particular. I'd like to take the time to learn the goblins in-depth myself, but also help the next game flow better. Any tips?

FWIW, we pretty much called the game after two hours of play without anyone winning yet. The cave had just begun collapsing (I had two crystal tiles), the dragon was about to awaken (despite the wrong rule, above), the goblin was one health away from killing the knight. We were all close to victory, but dead-tired and the knight player was ready to quit. I guess we just didn't see the prolonged, sustained attacking between the goblins/knight/dragon trio as you'd expect.

So I guess my question is, is this normal for a first play, should I blame the playgroup, blame the rulebook, all of the above? Is there a better place to go to learn the goblins than their own rulesheet? I assumed a 2-3 play learning curve for the game but didn't anticipate entirely missing a role's whole playstyle. Any advice would be appreciated
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Matt Watkins
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We need Rodney Smith on this game for sure, encountered the same issues and was left feeling kind of blah about the game. I know the game rewards multiple playthroughs but we need a step by step tutorial I think.
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Patrick Leder
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Try this one?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scZo1EKqDG8&list=PLvMGPyJ0Fk...
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Leigh Ryan
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aaj94 wrote:
is this normal for a first play, should I blame the playgroup, blame the rulebook, all of the above?

All of the above.

Don't think of your first play as "playing the game". It's a rules walkthrough, and you're going to make mistakes. You're going to make a surprisingly large number of mistakes, and you're going to get things wrong that, in isolation, you would normally consider to be simple. This is all fine.

As the primary teacher in our group of four, I spent a long time learning the game and every role in it (although I restricted our first couple of plays to Knight, Dragon, Goblins and Cave, since they're The Main Four). I learned them all enough so I could, with the help of the one-sheet rules (handed our to players for reference) I could explain each role in terms I knew our group could understand (rather than just reading from the rulebook). Even then, our first game was a bit of a disaster (as games go), but we knew that going in and we all learned a lot as play progressed. We didn't even try to finish it; we just played enough turns so people had a 'feel' for things.

In our second game we kept the same roles as the first, and it was a bit more like first game for any other game: we knew basically how to play, but questions kept coming up that needed answering. And answer them we did. We finished that game, reviewed what we got wrong and corrected it for next time.

By the time we got to our third game, people were much more confident. We changed up some roles and played to win. Still had a rule or two wrong (especially since with changed roles each 'game' was different for each player to what they'd learned) but for the most part people had absorbed from the other players essentially how to play each role, and if there were any problems we just checked in with the person who'd played that role before. It went well and created a sort of feeling of camaraderie between the two people who had shared the difficulties of a particular role. There was someone else who could understand the groans of frustration as your goblin got eaten or your Knight got pummelled.

The fourth game, we changed roles again and went for it. It was one of the greatest and most rewarding gaming experiences I've had since I (re)started gaming in mid-2009. It was so balanced that if the Knight didn't win on their turn, the Goblins would have, then the Cave, then the Thief (no Dragon in this play). It was tense.

It's hard work, and I delayed bringing it to a very experienced table for a couple of months after I'd received it to maximise its success (I did a LOT of reading of rules interpretations here on BGG), but once we dived in and committed to learn it Vast became one of our favourites.

Persevere.
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Andrew
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GreenM wrote:


Thanks, will give that a go at work today.
 
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Andrew
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LineOf7s wrote:
aaj94 wrote:
is this normal for a first play, should I blame the playgroup, blame the rulebook, all of the above?

All of the above.

Don't think of your first play as "playing the game". It's a rules walkthrough, and you're going to make mistakes. You're going to make a surprisingly large number of mistakes, and you're going to get things wrong that, in isolation, you would normally consider to be simple. This is all fine.

As the primary teacher in our group of four, I spent a long time learning the game and every role in it (although I restricted our first couple of plays to Knight, Dragon, Goblins and Cave, since they're The Main Four). I learned them all enough so I could, with the help of the one-sheet rules (handed our to players for reference) I could explain each role in terms I knew our group could understand (rather than just reading from the rulebook). Even then, our first game was a bit of a disaster (as games go), but we knew that going in and we all learned a lot as play progressed. We didn't even try to finish it; we just played enough turns so people had a 'feel' for things.

In our second game we kept the same roles as the first, and it was a bit more like first game for any other game: we knew basically how to play, but questions kept coming up that needed answering. And answer them we did. We finished that game, reviewed what we got wrong and corrected it for next time.

By the time we got to our third game, people were much more confident. We changed up some roles and played to win. Still had a rule or two wrong (especially since with changed roles each 'game' was different for each player to what they'd learned) but for the most part people had absorbed from the other players essentially how to play each role, and if there were any problems we just checked in with the person who'd played that role before. It went well and created a sort of feeling of camaraderie between the two people who had shared the difficulties of a particular role. There was someone else who could understand the groans of frustration as your goblin got eaten or your Knight got pummelled.

The fourth game, we changed roles again and went for it. It was one of the greatest and most rewarding gaming experiences I've had since I (re)started gaming in mid-2009. It was so balanced that if the Knight didn't win on their turn, the Goblins would have, then the Cave, then the Thief (no Dragon in this play). It was tense.

It's hard work, and I delayed bringing it to a very experienced table for a couple of months after I'd received it to maximise its success (I did a LOT of reading of rules interpretations here on BGG), but once we dived in and committed to learn it Vast became one of our favourites.

Persevere.


Thanks for the detailed post! I'm thinking for the next game (whether it's a solo or with other players) I need to play the goblins, to learn how they play and be able to answer any questions about them in the future. I feel well-prepared to tackle the, "But wait, what about this rule" problems, less so to grapple with an entire role being played wrong. I think I could also teach the cave at this point, so maybe me swapping with the goblins player would be beneficial for play 2.
 
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Michael Melen
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An alternative would be to have each of the players take on the same roles until each feels like they know the character well. I think if you change the roles at this point, it may become frustrating. Or more frustrating!

We've played the game three times (four players), and have kept the same roles each time. The first two games were really exploring the characters, while the third game was very enjoyable because we weren't stumbling over each character's rules. We've decided that the next game will be the one where we change roles.
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Andrew
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I think I might keep the roles the same for the next group game, but still try a goblin game myself (solo) -- I feel like I have a pretty good beginning grasp on the cave's role, and understanding the goblins will help the group dynamic next time. Good advice to keep the group dynamic the same as we figure out rules, though.
 
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David Fenton
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aaj94 wrote:
I think I might keep the roles the same for the next group game, but still try a goblin game myself (solo) -- I feel like I have a pretty good beginning grasp on the cave's role, and understanding the goblins will help the group dynamic next time. Good advice to keep the group dynamic the same as we figure out rules, though.

Just to warn you, Goblin solo is a very different game than Goblin w Knight (different goal, different hazards, different reveal mechanics, so I'm not sure how much you'll gain with solo play.
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dsdhornet wrote:
aaj94 wrote:
I think I might keep the roles the same for the next group game, but still try a goblin game myself (solo) -- I feel like I have a pretty good beginning grasp on the cave's role, and understanding the goblins will help the group dynamic next time. Good advice to keep the group dynamic the same as we figure out rules, though.

Just to warn you, Goblin solo is a very different game than Goblin w Knight (different goal, different hazards, different reveal mechanics, so I'm not sure how much you'll gain with solo play.


Thanks for the heads-up. Perhaps will just try to learn vicariously through playthroughs and tackle the next group game ASAP.
 
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David Fenton
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aaj94 wrote:
Thanks for the heads-up. Perhaps will just try to learn vicariously through playthroughs and tackle the next group game ASAP.

You could always try a two- (or more) player game against yourself. Think, "what would I do if faced with this board", similar to practicing chess.

Other than the cave tiles, there aren't a ton of mechanics that absolutely "must" be kept secret. Sure, in theory the Goblins knowing what facedown Treasure cards the Knight has might influence their actions, but since they can only be revealed during the Knights turn, just pretend you don't know (same with the Goblin's secrets). Dragon cards are drawn at the end of the turn so that other players can affect them before they are used, but there's nothing stopping you from just keeping track of the count and drawing at the beginning of the Dragon's turn (i.e., if hit by an ability that would result in losing a Power card, just draw one less).

If anything, knowing the a player's secret cards would just make the game harder for that player.

Sure, you can't exactly gain the full nuances of bluffing, baiting, etc, but you can still learn the mechanics and come up with various strategies.
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David Werner
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dsdhornet wrote:
aaj94 wrote:
Thanks for the heads-up. Perhaps will just try to learn vicariously through playthroughs and tackle the next group game ASAP.

You could always try a two- (or more) player game against yourself. Think, "what would I do if faced with this board", similar to practicing chess.


This. I found playing against myself with two roles as the best way to learn the game and be prepared to teach my group for the first real playthrough. Like this gent mentioned, just pretend you don't have the private info about the "other" player, and act as you would normally. Or not. Not sure it makes that much difference if you're doing it just to learn the mechanics. Point is, there are a lot of rule changes for the solo variants and you'll miss out on some scenarios if that's all you use to practice.

My two cents on the complexity and difficulty of the game in general: I don't think it's bad at all. Yes the first game can go a little slower as everyone fills in the gaps in their knowledge and learns the strategy but I fail to see how that's different from any other middle weight board game. Each role being unique does lend some additional learning challenge but I found it possible to get the roles pretty down pat after 15 minutes of play. After that it was just general tules clarifications and minutia. Unless someone is going straight from King of Tokyo to this, I can't fathom why someone would be irritated about its complexity.
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Patrick Leder
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My friend Clayton can teach enough of the game to a group of 5 in 10 to 15 minutes. If you had a demo at Gencon odds are it was him. We should record him teaching the game.
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I had the great fortune of playing my first game with two other experienced players (and another who had one game under his belt) live on stream during last year's Extra Life, and Patrick Leder joined us in the chat which was super helpful for any rules questions that came up. I played the Knight and had an amazing start, but our Cave player (the owner of the game and most experienced) did a fantastic job of holding me back and keeping everyone balanced but beyond victory's reach until he could collapse.

It was an intensely close game though-- if the Cave hadn't won when he did I would have won the next turn, and if I hadn't, the Goblins would have. Our Dragon had a bit of a rough game, but I think the player was a little more tired at that point than the rest of us and wasn't playing his best.

I just got my copy last Thursday and am ready to play a game tomorrow with three brand-new players. I'm hoping I gleaned enough from that play and my solo run-throughs to make the game go smoothly. It really is an incredible game and one of the few that literally makes me giddy just owning it.
 
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WookieeLove wrote:
My two cents on the complexity and difficulty of the game in general: I don't think it's bad at all. Yes the first game can go a little slower as everyone fills in the gaps in their knowledge and learns the strategy but I fail to see how that's different from any other middle weight board game. Each role being unique does lend some additional learning challenge but I found it possible to get the roles pretty down pat after 15 minutes of play. After that it was just general tules clarifications and minutia. Unless someone is going straight from King of Tokyo to this, I can't fathom why someone would be irritated about its complexity.


This is just a hair of an overstatement, wouldn't you say? There's a lot to juggle in this game, and when you don't have someone who knows the minutia and clarifications by heart it makes for a very slow and frustrating experience. I wouldn't disagree that the game overall is more complex than, say, Russian Railroads -- but the fact that there's five different facets to it, and the fact that we were playing with four newbies, and I'd confidently make the case that it's more difficult/frustrating than a comparably weighted game that's not asymmetrical.

 
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aaj94 wrote:
This is just a hair of an overstatement, wouldn't you say?


I don't think so. My intention isn't to be condescending or antagonistic. It should be understood my meaning was that I can't understand why someone would be upset about Vast's complexity; I wasn't saying that the game itself can't be called "complex".

I can imagine that if everyone went in completely fresh, with no one having an experienced understanding of the roles, that it would certainly be a slow and frustrating first game. But again, I think this would be the case with most medium-to-heavy games. Most of the time, I try not to run a new game with my group without at least one person having a solid understanding of it before the first official game. I know you said you read the entire rulebook, but this is definitely a game that benefits from some test-plays, mostly because of the asymmetry of the roles, like you said.

So in summary, I don't disagree with most of what you're saying. It's that I disagree with the sentiment that Vast is unreasonably hard to learn. Yes, the asymmetry adds some extra material since players need to be familiar with their own roles as well as the others. However, I think the game is well designed around its concept, and I don't think the interactions between the various roles are too complex. If the designers had botched the design and made a clunky game with mechanics that sacrificed all intuitiveness to the altar of asymmetry, that'd be something else. But I don't think that happened. It just seems like some players come with the attitude of "this is different, and takes a little more effort to learn because it's different, so it sucks."
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Ah, no, that makes more sense. I think we're pretty much in agreement. I was a bit frustrated at a few of the other players who pretty much said exactly what you mentioned, despite me saying upfront that the game was different, needed a lot of upfront rules work and practice, so we'll see.

Already have a second play scheduled for tonight (with two of same players) so hopefully things improve. I personally want to do the work it takes to learn the game since I believe it'll be worth it!
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It is worth it!

One tip, don't worry overly much about getting the rules perfect. This isn't a Euro. The rules comes as much from the theme as the other way around. If you hit a point of significant confusion, do what makes sense and play that out consistently.

You can read through the (updated) rule book again the day after your game and you'll find the answer. That one covers pretty much every point (although how the goblins to keep from overpopulating when spending rage is worded incorrectly). Once you know what you're looking for, the answers will stand out.
 
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For me Ive not really had to many issues with teaching the game. When I first got the game I broke it out immediately and played through all 4 non cave roles in solo, playing them 2 or 3 times each so that I had fully learned all the rules for them. Then when I teach it to new people I usually play the cave, allowing me to sit back and teach everyone, using the caves powers to keep the game as balanced as possible, in a way thats relatively unconfrontational with the other players and their roles
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raithyn wrote:
(although how the goblins to keep from overpopulating when spending rage is worded incorrectly). Once you know what you're looking for, the answers will stand out.

I wouldn't say "worded incorrectly", but "worded ambiguously". I thought it was worded incorrect (as in "take any number of actions", which implies a choice) until I thought along the lines of "don't give him any money" (which means give him exactly none).
 
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OK, tried a second play and things did indeed go better. I switched from cave to knight, and Nathan and Jon both stuck with their roles (dragon and goblins, respectively). There was no cave player.

Here were the rules problems we got wrong (and fixed during the game) :
- Knight kept forgetting the Bomb when attacking the dragon
- We forgot to lay dark tiles after our turns for about half the game, severely handicapping the dragon.
- Goblins were able to activate and attack in same turn (forgot the one only rule) meaning that knight was disadvantaged, health-wise.

All the same, we probably got 90% of the rules right aside from these three big ones, and we corrected all three mid-game. I'm confident our next play will go a lot better, and having played the cave or the knight,

For our next game, Nathan wants to try cave and I'm confident he could do it well since the cave doesn't have a lot of actions, just requires understanding the overall balance of the game, which he does OK on. I think he's getting sick of the dragon. Jon wants to try Knight or Dragon so we'll let him shift. I will either play knight a second time or shift to Goblins: the role I'm most eager to learn.

Playing the knight went well -- after the cave experience I felt like I understood what the knight was supposed to be doing, and the worker-placement-esque mechanics meant I was able to ramp up fairly quickly, and was completing side quests and pestering the dragon pretty much as the designer intended, I think.

I also won, but the goblins were close behind. The dragon was not, but again, he had a MAJOR handicap from the dark tiles error.
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dsdhornet wrote:
raithyn wrote:
(although how the goblins to keep from overpopulating when spending rage is worded incorrectly). Once you know what you're looking for, the answers will stand out.

I wouldn't say "worded incorrectly", but "worded ambiguously". I thought it was worded incorrect (as in "take any number of actions", which implies a choice) until I thought along the lines of "don't give him any money" (which means give him exactly none).

That only proves my point. "Pay X to not take any actions" is completely different from "pay X to not take any number of actions." Including the word "number" doesn't make the statement ambiguous, it makes it mean something else. As someone who does quite a bit of technical English editing*, I'll stand by that to the bitter end.

*I know, my posts from my phone don't reflect that,
 
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We are sending out for the third printing. Kyle can you tell them the language we settled on?
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This is what I believe it will say in the third printing:

"You can prevent adding all Goblin discs to a Tribe by spending 1 Rage per Tribe you affect."



(I'm double-checking that with our editor.) Confirmed!
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Woelf wrote:
"You can prevent adding all Goblin discs to a Tribe by spending 1 Rage per Tribe you affect."

Looks good.
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