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Subject: The rss

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Rick Granger
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Quite a few people have criticized Attika for its "Scapegoat" problem (otherwise known, apparently, as "Fisherman's Profit" or "Kill Doctor Lucky" syndrome). This means that it often becomes the perceived responsibility of the player to the right of the person who is about to win (usually through a shrine connection) to block the connection (failing which, the scapegoat becomes the victim of guilt, abuse, etc.) Various solutions to this problem have been proposed on the Geek. But I was wondering if anyone has simply eliminated the "shrine connection" winning condition, and played strictly for the "30 building" goal? If so, how has that worked? Has it eliminated the problem? Has it created a whole new set of issues? Etc.

Frege
 
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Matthew M
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Re:The
Aardvark (#28039),

Though I've never played this way, I imagine it would remove a lot of the tension and player interaction from the game. There would be less motivation to place a building that is disconnected from the rest of your settlement. In a multiplayer game I can imagine that everyone would place their initial settlements relatively removed from one another (if two play close the third has an advantage, so all stay away) turning the game into more of a solitaire exercise.

-MMM
 
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Nomadic Gamer
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Re:Modified Victory
Aardvark (#28039),
How about less dramatic changes?
1 or 2 hidden buildings in storage.
Or connecting shrines gives you 1 or 2 amphora.
How about different cities; although the info is open
after many plays I've noticed players rarely look at others
"pool".
 
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Rick Granger
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Re:Modified Victory
davedanger (#28127),

Yeah, I was thinking along the same lines myself...2 or 3 amphorae for connecting shrines, not enough to be a game decider but enough to motivate players to attempt the connection.

Frege
 
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Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Re:Modified Victory
Hello,

as stated in my Geeklist "http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listid=888" the first prototypes of "Attika" lacked the shrine connection. The game still works (but only with experienced players) but it looses much of its tension.

I think the blocking issue is a little bit different than usual in other games. When this problem occurs the player normally has to decide which *other* player will win the game. In Attika this case is really rare. Most of the time the player only decides if the next player wins or the game continues. Noone wants another player to win the game so there is no real choice whether to block or not.
And there is another issue. In most games the blocking player gets so exhausted that he is out of the game. In "Attika" you often have the possiblity to catch up again.

The 2 or 3 amphora variant may work. I predict connections will get much more common and "panic"-blocking (in the last moment) will be quite rare. I think tension will suffer a little bit but it will be quite interesting to see how exactly the game changes.

Best regards
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Rene Wiersma
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Re:Modified Victory
Marcel-André,

I think the blocking issue is a little bit different than usual in other games. When this problem occurs the player normally has to decide which *other* player will win the game. In Attika this case is really rare.

This is the "Kingmaking" problem you are reffering to. I agree that this probably doesn't happen very often in "Attika", but "Attika" does have another "problem"...

Most of the time the player only decides if the next player wins or the game continues. Noone wants another player to win the game so there is no real choice whether to block or not.

Exactly, and I think that is what people often perceive as the "problem". One player (usually the player to right of the player who is threatening to make a connection) is "forced" to block the next player, which is often detrimental to his own position and thus his chances of winning.

And there is another issue. In most games the blocking player gets so exhausted that he is out of the game. In "Attika" you often have the possiblity to catch up again.

I don't think I agree with that. "Attika", when played right, is a very tight game where each card and each action matters. Giving up actions and/or cards to stop an opponent from winning without any gain for yourself will likely result in a loss for yourself. There is a bit of luck in what order you draw your buildings and if you get lucky you might get back into the game, but your opponents play with the same odds, so there is not a real advantage here to the player who is lagging behind.

The connection win can sometimes be annoying, because it can make for short and anti-climatic games, if you lose that way. It also forces players to pay close attention to what everyone else has on their board and where their corresponding buildings are in play. On the other hand, it sometimes makes for tough decisions, provides tension, and winning by making a connection is actually very satisfying.

I don't think the connection win is a real flaw of the game, after all you can see it coming and players can plan for it. I think the game would lose a lot of its tension if the connection win wasn't possible. Changing the connection win into something like "gaining a number of amphora's" would turn "Attika" into a somewhat dry and abstract calculation fest and I wouldn't like that, so I'd keep it in, despite the anti-climatic endings it sometimes provides.

Just my 2 cents.
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Rick Granger
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Re:Modified Victory
Hi,

I will be trying out the "Amphorae for Connection" rule over the next few days and I will provide "nachrichten" about it here and/or in session reports. I think I will start out with 3 amphorae as the reward and see what happens. (Three amphorae is just an intuitive guess on my part for a fitting reward.)

If anybody else decides to try it, it would be great if they could report back here too. Yes, I have to agree that modifying the reward for making a connection has the potential for reducing the game's tension, although honestly for me I don't think tension has been an issue, because I find the what the game demands from a player in terms of planning and placing (considerations of space, timing, resource use, etc.) is more than enough to make me love this game. Among the new games that I have enjoyed playing recently, this is the first one I find to be extraordinarily compelling.

Anyway, I will be reporting back soon.

Frege
 
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John McCoy
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Re:Modified Victory
zaiga (#28189),

I think that Marcel is right, actually, that it is often possible to catch up in Attika, assuming that you know what you are doing. I've noticed many times how if I've done a good job hemming an opponent in he veritably explodes out of it. I attribute this to the free builds. If a player isn't been able to build much early on it is usually either because he hasn't drawn the appropriate base building/subsidiary building combos, or because he has been badly boxed in.

Assuming the game doesn't end with a shrine victory, eventually this player, call him A, who hasn't been building much will find some room and/or get the right buildings to create chains, and will start playing three buildings at a time turn after turn. Often some of these big chain builds will involve cutting off player B's building options. Thus player A starts playing "fast" while player B is forced to play "slow" for awhile, letting player A catch up.

The big caveat to all of this is that the player who is "behind" needs to know what he is doing. Because Attika definitely is a tight game, as you put it, and unforgiving of outright mistakes. Included in this is the fact that you must plan on and be prepared to make blocking plays to stop people from connecting shrines and/or getting huge areas of the map to themselves. The "problem," I think, isn't that people are forced to block. It's that they aren't prepared for it and thus either can't do it, or have to do it in such a manner that they burn a lot of cards and/or buildings they'd have rather put elsewhere.
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Rene Wiersma
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Re:Modified Victory
vynd (#28229),

I think I agree with you. It depends on your definition on being "behind" in the game. We agree that the game is very tight and that every card and every action matters. If you are "behind" on buildings on the board, that doesn't mean you are "behind" in the grander scheme of things. You might have more cards, amphora's or you might be able to build more things for free later in the game, which can give you a boost later on.

However, if you had to waste resources because you were forced to block an opponent, then you wasted those resources (whether they are cards, amphora's and/or actions doesn't matter) without any gain for yourself and I think it will be hard to catch up from a position like that, assuming your opponents play just as well as you and have an equal amount of luck.

Like I said, I don't perceive this is a flaw, perse. The connection win is something you can see coming and plan for. If you remove the connection win, it will remove a lot of tension from the game (I think) and turn it in to a dry calculation/optimalization game. After all, all the resources are exchangable on a 1 for 1 basis (1 card = 1 action = 1 amphora) and when you turn over a building from the piles you "just" have to determine what course of action will cost you the least resources over the course of a game. The threat of a connection win makes things more interesting, because you are sometimes for take risks and/or make suboptimal plays to react to a connection threat or to force opponents to react to your threat of a connection win. There will be still interesting decisions to make, such as when to turn over buildings from the pile and whether to turn over a black or white one, but it will be much more one-dimensional IMHO & YMMV.
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Rick Granger
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Re:Modified Victory
Introduction to Three-Amphora-Reward Playtest

First, let me say, that if the shrine connection victory condition has not been a problem in your multiplayer games (and it shouldn't be a problem in your two-player games) I see no reason to change it. From the comments I have been reading, it has NOT been a difficulty for many, especially experienced players. The shrine victory condition does add tension, and, even after it has been resolved in the negative (i.e., all shrines have been blocked), its effect continues to ripple on through the remainder of the game. That being said, there are still many (on this forum and elsewhere) who find the "scapegoat" (or its converse, the "group responsibility") problem to be a major roadblock to their enjoyment of the game. This becomes pretty clear if one reads the "lower end" of the personal comments section on the Attika page. So this experiment is addressed specifically to those players who find the shrine victory condition as a sort of "game killer."

Here is the "Three-Amphora Rule". When a player connects any two shrines with a string of his connected buildings he immediately receives three amphoras. Each connection made receives three amphoras, not just the first, whether made by the same or different players. If two or more connections are made with the same building placement each connection receives three amphoras. Substituting three amphoras as a reward for a shrine connection is not presented as some kind of definitive solution. It's just an idea that popped into mind, and one that seemed at first consideration not to disturb the already extant game structures unduly. Other rewards obviously could be tried. For example, a free building placement, a free building-tile draw, a free board-tile placement, an extra turn, the removal of an opponent's building, etc. Obviously, the list goes on and on. But since Attika already contains the concept of amphoras as rewards for completing other game tasks, it seems natural that it could be extended, without disturbing the game too much, to the shrine connection as well. Three as the number of amphoras was chosen intuitively. The reward needs to be high enough to induce players to attempt it and thus retain some of the tension provided by the shrine victory condition, but not so high that it is a game decider in and of itself. "Three" is the first cut at setting the level of reward.

The actual results of the playtest will follow in subsequent entries over the next several days. If you try this rule yourself in actual play, it would be great if you could add your own comments.

Frege
 
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Ron K
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Re:Modified Victory
Aardvark (#28461),
Not trying to dog your every article on Attika, but your comment here raised a thought. In a game last night, we found all the shrines sufficiently blocked that most of us were working towards the 30 building goal. One player had their harbor, three ships, and one other building left (last draw was the harbor and they had insufficient resources in hand and on map to place). On the following turn they played their harbor, a ship, and the other building. The other players then spent a turn blocking in the harbor to prevent the victory -- the very same issue/activity that the 'block the shrine victory' issue raises. The only real difference is when this occurs and what impact it has on the other players - one player had to delay his build plan for victory in order to block one of the ships.

In the end, the first player won anyway - but it was an exciting finish as the others struggled to block just enough to allow a follow on win and pass a suitable play down the line along wth the pressure to block.

Note: The first player had insufficient resources to play the ship elsewhere on their next turn. The other player had to expend key resource cards to block the first player which caused them to need an extra turn to place the last two tiles.
 
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Nomadic Gamer
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Then the Dr. Lucky issue remains.
2 players could connect. I can only block 1.
I just decided the winner.
Did you play the variant?


 
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