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A Feast for Odin» Forums » General

Subject: The merits of the short game rss

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Travis Vandenberg
Canada
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I've heard a lot of talk on the forums about the short game not being worth playing, and how the long game is the "real game". Because of that, I completely avoided the short game until tonight. I was teaching my brother how to play for the first time and I only had 2.5 hours to setup, teach and play so I figured I'd save myself 15 min or so by trying out the short game. I actually quite enjoyed the experience even though we ended with very low scores (he got 62 and I got 72). Here are some of the reasons why I think it's actually worth trying out.

1. It's a time saver: If you're with a group that doesn't want to play as long, the short game can save you some time. I've played a few board games where my gaming group had fun but someone needing to head out, resulting in us rushing the last round or two, really put a damper on things. Additionally, there's times where people know that they've already lost and the last bit of the game becomes a negative experience for them (and then us through whining) as their loss is reinforced. It's a pretty long game already so a bit of shortening can sometimes be a welcome change.

2. It alters strategy: If you've played the long game a bunch, the short game really messes with your head. The timing of everything is different which changes what you are able to do over the course of the game. It took me awhile to learn what I was capable of in the long game and to time everything out. I feel like I'm completely lost again while trying out the short game and openers that I previously used don't work anymore because of where the harvests are. I really like that I'm forced to rethink what I'm doing and I like that there are new options with a 7 viking opener.

3. Unused action spaces become more important: The weekly market and meat purchasing spaces became a lot more useful as I was often struggling to get food due to fewer (and worse) harvests. I could see competition arising particularly for the 2 fish 1 coin space in 3-4 player games. These are largely ignored in my playthroughs so far so I was glad to see they got some use.

4. Island priorities change: I initially wanted to take Faroe as a way to challenge myself since my brother was new to the game, but I ended up discovering that it was actually fairly useful. Normally the peas end up being a useless addition for me but I found I really needed them with fewer harvests. Perhaps a very good player could manage to take and fill two islands but it would be quite tough to do so and you certainly wouldn't see someone getting three. This gives a bit more room for people and doesn't necessitate that you rush an island right away like the long game seems to.

5. The game feels tighter: When I play a long game well, I find my very last round being some combination of playing a bunch of professions for bonus points, emigrating once or twice, and building another boat and house for the VPs. My home board and exploration boards are often filled and I'm rarely looking to pick up more tiles. In the short game, it's difficult to have rounds like this because I found I was spending my last turn still frantically trying to finish off my home board and longhouse. Perhaps it's not a fair comparison, but the short game feels sort of like Agricola where you're just barely getting everything you need and might still feel lacking at the end, while the long game feels more like Caverna where you have everything you want at the end and are just looking around for whatever extra VPs you can scrape out. The feast in short game has a lot more pressure as well, giving that Agricola feel of trying to feed your family.

Now of course, there will be some things that feel worse about it, such as red and blue professions being far less impactful, and RNG roll fails being even more punishing but overall I had a very pleasant experience and would maybe even teach some of my friends using the short game instead of the long one for the reasons listed above. I'm guessing the reason for not playing it might have to do with balance issues that I'm unaware of as of yet, but I don't know for sure. What do those of you who have tried out the short game think?
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Jon W
United States
Aurora
CO
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I think the short game has a lot of merit. And the designer thinks so, too, as I pointed out in an earlier discussion around this topic.

The big loser is livestock/breeding. But barring decent complementary cards, breeding is dicey anyway, so it's often not as much of a loss as it seems it would be.
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Travis Vandenberg
Canada
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waddball wrote:
The big loser is livestock/breeding. But barring decent complementary cards, breeding is dicey anyway, so it's often not as much of a loss as it seems it would be.


This might be true but to be perfectly honest, I rarely breed more than twice in a breeding strategy. Sure, you can breed three times if you get your two animals up by R2 but that involves a pretty huge investment, particularly when it comes to cattle, as well as not letting you use the last two as tiles. Since I just upgrade the cattle into greens/blues, I often don't even have any left by R7 because the tradeoff of getting more income earlier can overshadow having one extra cow in the last round. Because of that, I think you could still aim for a two breed strategy by R2 if you really wanted to, but otherwise you could breed on R3 and just use all three cattle earlier in the game.
 
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