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Subject: What happens when the plague saps away all the influence? rss

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Ben M
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My friend and I played our first game of Notre Dame last night - sort of.

She made a few beginner's mistakes and wound up in a situation where she had no coins left, no cubes in her personal supply, and a plague situation that would not relent. It seemed like no matter what she tried, the plague was just slowly sapping her of influence cubes on the board, which undermined her ability to get any sort of useful hospital situation going. She felt like she was merely moving solitary cubes from one sector to another to little effect. I tried to encourage her to grind through and maybe turn things around with some changes in strategy, but she was frustrated, and it was nearly 1 AM; so we decided to call it a night.

My question is - have others found themselves in a similar situation wherein the plague has sapped away all your influence (both on the board and in the personal supply)? Can one turn it around?

I'd like to hear how people have managed such situations so if I play the game again with other friends and they find themselves in a similar swamp, I can give pointers to them.

(ps - I really enjoyed the game nonetheless!)
 
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Ben Bateson
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I've not been there myself, nor has anyone I've played with, but I can see how it might happen.

Recently, I did play a 'deliberate starvation' strategy, where I mainlined points from the Park and School while getting hit repeatedly by the plague. I finished second of four, so it definitely isn't a game-ender. At the very least, you can hire the Doctor for three out of nine rounds.

My advice is simply to make sure you emphasise it during teaching - in my experience, new players are usually TOO cautious about getting hit by the plague, not the other way around.
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Ben M
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Yeah, definitely good to know for teaching in future sessions!
 
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Craig Liken
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Yes - as with the other poster, I have never quite seen a situation quite as bad as you describe. It might just pay to check you didn't have something just slightly wrong with the rules.

Hopefully you can get her to try it again. I would say the main advice would be that the game has the fairly standard euro format/requirement of building up some economy first and later focus more on points. I suspect your friend took and spent coins for points early and this is what brought about the trouble with plagues. It is OK to take some VPs early, but you need to be a bit careful ie don't spend too much in Notre Dame early (save coins for further rounds) or worry about the early grey person VP cards. There are also plenty of sector cards (hospital, park, carriage, hotel, trusted friend) and regular persons (hostess, doctor, fool, minstrel) that help you to deal with plague/rats, as well as the Period A "Bishop". So if you start getting in trouble then it needs focussed attention, and then once under control get back to scoring points.

The plague itself is not disastrous in small doses. Once, or perhaps twice is OK but more than that is often too detrimental, unless you can make up for the scoring and cube loss in other ways. With the base set grey persons I think that holds more true. The expanded persons set does allow a bit more variance in play eg. The period C Guard gives you points for cubes in the general supply, so losing cubes to plague may help with that.

Keep playing though - it is a great game.
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J
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Bendelker wrote:
My friend and I played our first game of Notre Dame last night - sort of.

She made a few beginner's mistakes and wound up in a situation where she had no coins left, no cubes in her personal supply, and a plague situation that would not relent. It seemed like no matter what she tried, the plague was just slowly sapping her of influence cubes on the board, which undermined her ability to get any sort of useful hospital situation going. She felt like she was merely moving solitary cubes from one sector to another to little effect. I tried to encourage her to grind through and maybe turn things around with some changes in strategy, but she was frustrated, and it was nearly 1 AM; so we decided to call it a night.

My question is - have others found themselves in a similar situation wherein the plague has sapped away all your influence (both on the board and in the personal supply)? Can one turn it around?

I'd like to hear how people have managed such situations so if I play the game again with other friends and they find themselves in a similar swamp, I can give pointers to them.

(ps - I really enjoyed the game nonetheless!)


Hmmmmmmmmm well just to preface I'm not insulting your friend here but there's no nice way to say this. What you described is a situation not suppose to occur, even from beginners, because in order to get into the position you described a players either needs to try and throw their game away or needs to make enormous rudimentary errors in their early game, namely completly negecting econ growth in favor of vp. It's also possible you have a rule wrong so if you want to check any of them please do ask.

The game starts you out with 0 rats, 3 coins and 4 cubes which gives you at least 2 turns to gain more of both before you're likely to feel much pressure. While techincally possible, it is extraordinarily unlikely to be hit by plague on turn 2. The only way I could see someone getting into the position you described is playing their Notre Dame card early and spending a bunch of coins and also mostly buying vp Nobles when the option is there. As others have mentioned, it is very rare to find somone hit by the plague this badly and I have never seen anyone hit more than twice by it before and never early on.

My advice to you is, rather than worry about someone else getting into the situation you described and trying to fix it, focus on making sure that the situation is avoided since as stated by many, its not something that should be occuring. To that end here are some quick and easy rules to follow that you can share with anyone you teach it with. To be clear these rules aren't neccesary be all and end all, but they will give new players something good to start out with when playing their game.

1. Hiring Nobles: Make it very clear to them that they will want to hire a Noble every turn. Advise them in the early game to favor econ nobles over the vp ones especially in age 1 especially the age 1 Bishop who should be an auto hire whwen present.

2. Early S-Tier, Hospital, hospital, hospital: Make the following very clear to them. The Hospital is by a long shot the best card they can have in age 1. Drill it into their heads that if they see the Hospital in their hand on turns 1, 2, or 3 that they want to take it regardless of what any other card they have is. They don't want Notre Dame, they don't want their trusted friend, they don't want any of the 6 other areas, they want their Hospital. Especially make it clear to them that if they have their Trusted Friend and the Hospital, they want their Hospital. They might think they want their trusted friend because they think he is strictly better than the hospital, they're wrong. They want the Hospital.

To expand on why this is, the hospital is unique compared to every other space. Most of the other space gives their benefits realative to the number of cubes present when played and become stronger as you have more cubes there. On the other hand the hospital gives larger benefits based on how early you play in there. Playing in there turns 1 or 2 will likely kill 9 rats over the course of the game (Turn 3 is 8 rats). Whereas playing there on the last turn kills 2. It is super important to go there early.

Above someone talked about a "starvation" strategy. I have admittedly not looked very much into this but I would not advise pursueing it. Not that it wouldn't work in theory, it just seems very very hard to win with it. Not only would the cube and vp hit be a very heavy price (Probably about 10 vp and 5 cubes off the board) to pay (compared to an early hospital play or 2) but giving the player on your left 2 Hospitals in age 1 is a giant advantage if he's playing a regular game.

3. Early A Tier, Other Good Choices: If they don't have the Hospital, then also tell them that the Bank, Cloister, and Carrige are also good choices. All 3 of these give nice bumps to your econ while building up future moves. If they use the Carrige advise them to take the cube messages early on.

4. Early Notre Dame? While I wouldn't go so far as to say never play Notre Dame in age 1 i would say never pay 3 coins for Notre Dame in age 1. Make it clear to them that an Age 1 Notre Dame play will hurt their ability to get vp in the future (They lose coins and cubes) so they should only pay there if they think the loss in econ will translate into a good number of vps. It really suchs to spend your early resources to see your vp getting cut up as a bunch of players jump in there.

There is more than just this, but this alone should be sufficient to prevent what you experienced happening from happening.
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Ben M
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Thanks for the thorough responses! I will absolutely make note of all this upon teaching my next game!
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