David Buckley
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preambleI had high hopes for this game. Having gone through the tutorial and rulebook I was expecting the game to start easy-ish and gradually ramp up the pressure as the enemy becomes gradually stronger in each period. However having played a handful of times I ever felt threatened from the AI was at the beginning, when I hadn't had time to get my engine up and running. By the time I have completed age 1 I have already achieved my victory condition for age 2 and by the time I've completed age 2 I'm well ahead of my target for age 3. I found administering the game a far greater challenge than actually playing it. In fact I must admit I have never completed a game without messing something up although I don't believe the mistakes were critical to the outcome.

Scenario Downfall: period 3. Victory objective for period 3 is to have more more settlements. The 12 culture points worth of culture cards I select to start the scenario with include politics 1,2 and 3. Politics 3 means that whenever I need to roll on the enemy action table I can instead spend 1 CP to decide which enemy is active. On my first turn and whenever I start running low on culture I take the culture operation, for 5+ CPs. I gradually raid all the settlements on the map and use Politics 3 to make sure that the raided enemy never gets to execute a recover operation. Most of the time I nominate North whose AI seems particularly toothless. What can this enemy do? Encroach A mild inconvenience if the new settlement gets randomly assigned to a region of Comanche control. However this inconvenience is usually temporary because Ally I declare the encroaching tribe my ally. Sooner or later I take a planning operation and use politics 2 to convert this tribe into a strength 2 band which will in turn become a rancheria during the next passage of time operation. hunt removes bison from the board or do nothing at all if no bison. For the most part I was ignoring bison anyway. That was a disappointing aspect of the game: bison don't seem to have much significance. raid creates or moves war columns but not particularly dangerous ones. So period 3 ends with me having all 5 rancherias in play and getting back 7 or 8 culture at a time. Enemy has 0 settlements. Hopefully period 4 will be harder......

period 4 North is not featured on the history card so I have to accept that South, East and/or West are going to take actions and their AIs aren't quite as toothless as North's. However the only thing I need to worry about is keeping my MPs higher than my # of rancherias. Military points can easily be acquired as long as I have plenty of CPs, which I do because I have 5 rancherias and an average of 2 territories under Comanche control. With few exceptions MPs are only lost when a war column reaches a rancheria. So I use planning ops to allow my rancherias to basically run away, hoping that sooner or later surrender captains or steal their mounts comes up and allows me to end the war. It's difficult to avoid war entirely but even when the war column ends it's movement in a rancheria I don't actually have to fight it. I can simply spend 2MPs and all captives in that rancheria (assuming there are any) to send it back to it's square enemy space. This didn't happen often enough to cause a serious problem. I knew that Medicine lodge treaty was coming so I carefully arranged to have exactly 5MPs. This was easy to do because East actions don't have any effect in the lead up to this due to the American Civil War. Of course I'm using Culture 3 to make sure East is the active enemy throughout this period!
However a development card comes up that forces one of my units to fight a battle which it loses, thus reducing my MPs to 4 and sending one of my rancherias to the reservation. No problem. I eventually finish the scenario with 9 MPS and the other 4 rancherias still on the map.

so what's going wrong?
This afternoon I read the rules again, cover to cover and discovered one thing I was doing wrong: I failed to notice that the second number on the war columns was a negative modifier. This would have lost me some of the battles I 'won'. If I hadn't made this oversight I would have declined the battles and/or made more effort to avoid them. Also as mentioned above I'm frustratingly prone to forget in-play effects or fail to do every step of every round. I correct my mistakes as best I can, usually erring on the side of favouring the game if not sure. However, this doesn't seem sufficient to explain why I'm finding this trivial and since I seem to be the only person who finds it trivial the odds are that I've missed or misunderstood a key rule. Any ideas what it might be? Comancheria is a game that I'm sure I would like if only it wasn't so easy.
 
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Jacob Williams
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Without seeing you actually play, it's hard to make a diagnosis. Odds seem on favor that you are misplaying, but I guess there is always the chance you've mastered it.
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David Buckley
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ChromiumAgeCollector wrote:
Without seeing you actually play, it's hard to make a diagnosis. Odds seem on favor that you are misplaying, but I guess there is always the chance you've mastered it.


Thank you for responding. I feared that a diagnosis would be impossible since know one else has seen me play. I agree it seems unlikely that I have mastered the game after just a handful of plays. I'm normally quite good at games but by no means exceptional. Also it doesn't feel like I've developed any great strategic insight. It feels like the system simply isn't putting me under any real pressure. I guess the real question is whether to wait for it to go out of print before trying to get rid of it.
 
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Jacob Williams
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Well, I don't know how to answer that question. If you don't think it's worth figuring out what the issue is (if any), then selling probably is the best option. I'd probably wait until it's out of print and stock before selling.
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But if it were me, I'd really wanna be, a giant woman.
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Based on your flurry of posts I suggest running through the tutorial again (maybe follow along with Joel's video run through as well) or at the very least follow each procedure word for word from the rule book when executing.
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Presumably you've tried different card strategies than going for Culture 3+ Politics 3? Seems like relying on those gives you a lot of control over randomness; less enemies to handle, and eases decisions of balance re: how aggressive to be vs. how many enemy AP you'll risk provoking.

Missing the negative defense modifier feels pretty significant in early game stages, but it sounds like you are avoiding/bargaining more than sending bands anyways.

I doubt you're missing them after replays and rules rereads, but active band finishing rules, limits of actions/planning to specific ranch, time periods not ending until proper passage of time (ie, can meet then fail victory conditions before victory check is applied). Those things could make big differences, but again should be plain.
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Buckersuk wrote:
Politics 3 means that whenever I need to roll on the enemy action table I can instead spend 1 CP to decide which enemy is active.


Do you remember that your Culture Points must be greater than or equal to a Culture Card's level to use its effects?

Buckersuk wrote:
I gradually raid all the settlements on the map and use Politics 3 to make sure that the raided enemy never gets to execute a recover operation.


So... your Rancherias gradually accumulate more and more Finished Bands (assuming your Bands go back home after each Raid) and the chance of rolling less than or equal to the number of Finished Bands for each Rancheria increases and so does the chance of having an Enemy execute a free Instruction for each failed roll... and given that for each failed roll you have to start 6.2.2.B from the beginning (i.e., roll on the Enemy Action Table), you risk depleting your Culture Points quickly here.

Buckersuk wrote:
Encroach A mild inconvenience if the new settlement gets randomly assigned to a region of Comanche control. However this inconvenience is usually temporary because Ally I declare the encroaching tribe my ally.


Do you remember to roll a die and flip an Instruction counter when executing 6.2.2.A, 6.2.2.B and 6.2.2.C?

Buckersuk wrote:
However the only thing I need to worry about is keeping my MPs higher than my # of rancherias. Military points can easily be acquired as long as I have plenty of CPs, which I do because I have 5 rancherias and an average of 2 territories under Comanche control.


Just to check that we're on the same page: when Card #68 is revealed, if your Military Points are higher than the number of in-play Rancherias, then they're reset to one less than the number of in-play Rancherias; at that point, you have until the next Cleanup Phase to increase them or one of your Rancherias will be moved to The Reservation.

During Planning, each in-play Rancheria's Paraibo can execute one action or push his luck and see if can execute more than one action (risking to come away with empty hands).

The conversion of Culture into Military Points is possible only if you have more Culture Points than Military Points and each such conversion turns only 1 Culture Point into 1 Military Point.

Buckersuk wrote:
I failed to notice that the second number on the war columns was a negative modifier. [...] Also as mentioned above I'm frustratingly prone to forget in-play effects or fail to do every step of every round. [...] However, this doesn't seem sufficient to explain why I'm finding this trivial [...]


If you say so...
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Jacob Williams
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Yeah, I lose battles all the time with no negative modifiers, 3 strength bands, and guns....

Basically, I'm a brilliant tactician, but crappy die roller...
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Mark Cicero
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One thing that leaps out in me in the original post is "Bison seem to have no signifcance"...

Not sure how that can be, as Bison are a critical resource to create bands and recover band strength after attrition.

How are you creating and managing bands if you are not harvesting Bison?
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Lonny x
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Make sure your losing 1MP every time a war column attacks a rancheria.
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David Buckley
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ChromiumAgeCollector wrote:
Well, I don't know how to answer that question. If you don't think it's worth figuring out what the issue is (if any), then selling probably is the best option. I'd probably wait until it's out of print and stock before selling.


Thing is I'm not sure I'll be able to figure out what the issue is (if any). I haven't given up on it just yet. I just played the first part of the Downfall scenario again to see what difference it makes to use the correct rules for battles. I never had to fight any battle. Next time I'll ban myself from using any politics culture cards and see what difference that makes.
 
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David Buckley
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oduh wrote:
Based on your flurry of posts I suggest running through the tutorial again (maybe follow along with Joel's video run through as well) or at the very least follow each procedure word for word from the rule book when executing.


I do use the player aid and try to make sure I go through the procedures step by step. I don't read them word for word because they read the same every time. I still seem to find it much harder than it should be to not miss anything out, particularly things that are a result of in-play development cards and therefore not mentioned in the player aids.
 
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Lzmountaingames wrote:
Presumably you've tried different card strategies than going for Culture 3+ Politics 3? Seems like relying on those gives you a lot of control over randomness; less enemies to handle, and eases decisions of balance re: how aggressive to be vs. how many enemy AP you'll risk provoking.

Missing the negative defense modifier feels pretty significant in early game stages, but it sounds like you are avoiding/bargaining more than sending bands anyways.

I doubt you're missing them after replays and rules rereads, but active band finishing rules, limits of actions/planning to specific ranch, time periods not ending until proper passage of time (ie, can meet then fail victory conditions before victory check is applied). Those things could make big differences, but again should be plain.


It's possible that missing the negative defense modifier is more significant than I am crediting although as you suggest I am mainly avoiding/bargaining. I flip my bands over to their finished side when they have no action points left, unless it has some horse tokens that I want to spend first. I only automatically activate bands from a single rancheria during a take actions op and I perform the victory check only when passage of time is in a numbered space and the dice roll is at least this number. In the final age I only do a victory check when passage of time is in the must do passage of time space.
 
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David Buckley
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evacbs wrote:
Buckersuk wrote:
Politics 3 means that whenever I need to roll on the enemy action table I can instead spend 1 CP to decide which enemy is active.


Do you remember that your Culture Points must be greater than or equal to a Culture Card's level to use its effects?


I am aware of that rule but it's the sort of thing I'm prone to temporarily forget.

Quote:

Buckersuk wrote:
I gradually raid all the settlements on the map and use Politics 3 to make sure that the raided enemy never gets to execute a recover operation.


So... your Rancherias gradually accumulate more and more Finished Bands (assuming your Bands go back home after each Raid) and the chance of rolling less than or equal to the number of Finished Bands for each Rancheria increases and so does the chance of having an Enemy execute a free Instruction for each failed roll... and given that for each failed roll you have to start 6.2.2.B from the beginning (i.e., roll on the Enemy Action Table), you risk depleting your Culture Points quickly here.


Until I reset them by doing planning or passage of time. I try not to have too many finished bands at the same time partly for this reason and partly because if I want to do planning they all weaken. If I'm taking a take actions operation and I already have finished bands I try to use them again. If I'm spending action points to activate bands I favour activating bands that are marked finished. I probably take culture about once every three turns on average.

Quote:

Buckersuk wrote:
Encroach A mild inconvenience if the new settlement gets randomly assigned to a region of Comanche control. However this inconvenience is usually temporary because Ally I declare the encroaching tribe my ally.


Do you remember to roll a die and flip an Instruction counter when executing 6.2.2.A, 6.2.2.B and 6.2.2.C?


Yes.

Quote:

Buckersuk wrote:
However the only thing I need to worry about is keeping my MPs higher than my # of rancherias. Military points can easily be acquired as long as I have plenty of CPs, which I do because I have 5 rancherias and an average of 2 territories under Comanche control.


Just to check that we're on the same page: when Card #68 is revealed, if your Military Points are higher than the number of in-play Rancherias, then they're reset to one less than the number of in-play Rancherias; at that point, you have until the next Cleanup Phase to increase them or one of your Rancherias will be moved to The Reservation.


Yes. And since #68 is revealed during passage of time, I don't have any way of increasing my military points in time unless I get lucky with subsequent development card draws.

Quote:

During Planning, each in-play Rancheria's Paraibo can execute one action or push his luck and see if can execute more than one action (risking to come away with empty hands).

The conversion of Culture into Military Points is possible only if you have more Culture Points than Military Points and each such conversion turns only 1 Culture Point into 1 Military Point.


Yes and yes.

Quote:

Buckersuk wrote:
I failed to notice that the second number on the war columns was a negative modifier. [...] Also as mentioned above I'm frustratingly prone to forget in-play effects or fail to do every step of every round. [...] However, this doesn't seem sufficient to explain why I'm finding this trivial [...]


If you say so...


A few games I have abandoned because I realised I made a mistake and it was too hard to backtrack and the impact seemed too significant to allow for a satisfactory fudge.
 
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David Buckley
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NorthstarNY wrote:
One thing that leaps out in me in the original post is "Bison seem to have no signifcance"...

Not sure how that can be, as Bison are a critical resource to create bands and recover band strength after attrition.

How are you creating and managing bands if you are not harvesting Bison?


I do harvest bison when they are readily available but when they are not I use captives and food. The option to hunt is nice but losing it doesn't seem to have much impact.

malkaven wrote:
Make sure your losing 1MP every time a war column attacks a rancheria.


I am. Usually I prefer to lose 2MP and not battle.
 
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David Buckley
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions so far.
 
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Lonny x
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Remember that if you create a band with food both pop points are consumed. No making change. Assuming its your initial band purchase.
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Buckersuk wrote:
I feared that a diagnosis would be impossible since know one else has seen me play.


Film a play-through. If you are that good, people will be interested. If you aren't, they'll tell you what you're doing wrong.
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Jacob Williams
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When are you doing PoT operations? They can't be done until the operations marker is in a numbered apace.
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Buckersuk wrote:
I flip my bands over to their finished side when they have no action points left, unless it has some horse tokens that I want to spend first.

Probably just a detail you didn't type, but bands that are activated during take actions will be finished at end of that phase even if MP remain, ie you can't plan to use 5 MPs of a 1-6 band intending to leave it unfinished. Combined with no negative defensive mod, that would overpower your bands in any conflict.

Overall, I think you could be playing right and simply exploiting a strong development strategy, avoid conflict, build CP to convert (having survived scenario 1 and 2 to have a strong 5 ranch engine described), rely on cards abilities to limit enemy actions and redirect them to "toothless" enemies. Personally, I don't need a recording of that laugh
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ChromiumAgeCollector wrote:
When are you doing PoT operations? They can't be done until the operations marker is in a numbered apace.


That's answered affirmatively above.
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