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Subject: Scoring - Design Question rss

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Will McGreggor
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I've just impulse-purchased this game without knowing anything about it, and been really pleasantly surprised. I've just played 12 games straight with my friend, and if the aim was to create a relaxing experience, it certainly hits the mark. We've had an excellent evening playing it.

However, after 12 games, one thing started to stand out about the design that puzzled us, and we're wondering if we are missing something...

The score scale on the small pots and the wooden planter seems a little bit off.

Take the small pots as an example. The scoring goes as follows:
2 cards - 1 pair - 4 points (2 pts per card)
4 cards - 2 pairs - 8 points (2 pts per card)
6 cards - 3 pairs - 12 points (2 pts per card)
8 cards - 4 pairs - 14 points (1.75 pts per card)
10 cards - 5 pairs - 16 points (1.6 pts per card)
12 cards - 6 pairs - 18 points (1.5 pts per card)

Firstly, given it involves greater risk to get higher number of pairs, why do the scores tail off, rather than increase? It seems 3 pairs is the sweet spot - why should we risk gambling on getting a 4th pair, when it's only worth an additional 2 points?

In all 12 of our games, both of us always had 3 pairs. To get 4 pairs, there would have to be something very juicy going on in the communal garden, OR, you make an additional pair from your private garden. But to use 2 additional cards from your private garden, you lose 2 points from the end game scoring, and gain 2 points on the small pots(and leave yourself with less options). It just doesn't seem worth going for 4 pairs.

The same issue is present with the wooden planter, to a lesser extent... very rarely is it worth holding out for all 7, just for an additional 2 points.

What are we missing here? Why doesn't the score on these cards go UP exponentially, instead of the rewards tapering off?

Thanks a lot =)


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Robert Clevidence
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I think the trade-off is that you can only score each pot once. If you score a pair for each of the regular pots, yes, you scored the maximum number of points per card, but you still only scored a paltry number of points.

Edit: also, are you reading the scoring cards wrong? The VP line is the total points scored for that container, not the points per card.

Second edit: actually, what pot are you using as an example? Looking at the container cards, none of them accept 12 cards. Two take 10 and one takes 7.



Third edit: my take on the blue-bowl containers (lower left in the pic above) is the following:

2 cards, 1 VP, 0.5vp/card
4 cards, 6 VP, 1.5vp/card
6 cards, 15 VP, 2.5vp/card

So, they do increase in value per card. At least, that one does.
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Will McGreggor
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Okay now I'm really confused... my cards look totally different.

The scores on the image you posted make a lot more sense.

Have I bought an old version of the game?



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Eduardo Baraf
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Lots to unpack here.

1st. OP has correct cards. Cards that appear in second post image was a photo from the game while in development. Those were not final release cards. Blue pot maxes at 7 cards.

2nd. Steve Finn should give the full perspective here, but generally when we've discussed this and related topics his response had to do with situational dynamics and moment to moment risk. It is intentional that all decks don't just become exponentially more valuable. He always does a better job explaining, so I'll let him chime in.

Cheers!
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daniel balik
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great thread.

I am looking forward for the Steve Finn´s response.
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Will McGreggor
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Great, I look forward to hearing that =)

Now that I've slept on it, here are some more specifics about my question to help explain our befuddlement.

Firsly, an observation that a huge part of the strategy is to use as many cards from the communal garden as possible. Every card you have to use from your private garden actually costs you 1 point from your end-game score.

e.g., in an extreme scenario, if I planted 6 pairs from my private garden, I'd only make a net gain of 6 points. However, from the communal garden, I'd make a net gain of 18 points. That's huge!

Therefore, back to the Small Pots... the only time it's worth jumping up from 3 pairs to 4 pairs is if those cards come from the communal garden (unless we're missing something). Otherwise, you lose 2 points to gain 2 points. But, your opponent would have to be asleep to allow that many pairs to form in the communal garden.

We also feel a giant strategic opportunity is missed by this scoring mechanism. That is, there is no incentive for me to hold out on attempting to make a big scoring hand using my private garden (trying to collect 1 of each type for the Wooden Planter for example), because to play from your private garden makes you no net-gains with the current scoring system... you just break even anyway (or a measly 1 point gain in cases, but at enormous risk).

In the end, we found our final score only varied in:
1. Who got the best stuff in their Glass Jar
2. Whether we managed to get 3 or 4 cards in the Large Pot
3. How many cards we managed to keep in our private garden (it was usually between 3 and 6)

There was no variance in:
1. Small Pots - we both got 3 pairs, every time, in all 12 games. There was never a mathematical or strategic advantage to going for 4.
2. Wooden Planter - we almost always got 6 cards (5 on a very rare occasion). The incentive to save for the 7th is just so tiny it's not worth risking it if there's already 6 available.

For both these cases, if they were worth even just a couple of points more for maxing out the cards, there would actually be an important decision to make on whether to hold out for it - but right now, it's a no brainer to take the safe option

I am going to theorise that maybe these things become less of an issue if you add more players?

Anyway, the input is appreciated, and nevertheless, I plan on introducing a lot more people to this game =)
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Steve Marano
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Thanks, Will, for your postings. I have only played a couple of solo 'test games' after reading the rules, but I had exactly the same questions/concerns re multiplayer. Will be interesting to hear from Dr. Finn directly.
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Little Neddie Knickers
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Bumping this thread, as I too am very curious to hear the reasoning for this as well.

Thanks!
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Jordan Booth
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CalmDownMonkey wrote:
I am going to theorise that maybe these things become less of an issue if you add more players?

I think this may be the case.

I started playing solo, and this week played a handful of games with my Mom. I found that the game really changed to a denial game. Especially with the special herbs and the glass jar, it is a game of chicken to see who will flinch and pot first. Or if an unfortunate draw leaves the 1,2, and 3 herbs available your opponent is pretty much obliged to take the ones they can access. But then you are free to ignore special herbs till the end hoping another set comes up since they can't take them anymore.

With more players, there will be more cards coming out between your turns and more combinations to consider. With two it is often fairly easy to work out what should be kept private. With more it will likely be impossible to make a choice that doesn't favor anyone else. Then since more cards are coming out, the chances of more pairs or whatever being available goes up. Yes, more cards will be taken too, and the person before you will be tempted to hate draft a really juicy pull right before you. But in a multiplayer game, hurting one player doesn't necessarily help you gain ground on the lead. They may decide to choose to let you have some of what you want so that they can get what will help them most.
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Eduardo Baraf
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Looks like Steve didn't end up catching this. I'll shoot him a note and see if he has anything to add to the discussion.

Cheers,
~Ed
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Steve Finn
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In many games, the decision to use a law of diminishing returns on the pots is essentially there as a psychological motivator for people to act more quickly (in this case, not to try to completely fill a pot, but to grab cards from the communal garden more quickly). In play testing, some people would push their luck to try to get a huge payoff and it would usually lead to huge swings and a wider array of scores. If the "same herbs" were valued at the appropriate mathematical amounts (i.e., where the scores matched their actual value based on statistical probabilities), I find it to be not as much fun. A person who gets 5 of a kind would score a whole lot more points than 4 of a kind.

Also, for the idea that it does not make sense in some specific cases to use ONLY cards from your garden, that might be true. However, it's always better to use a card from your garden in conjunction with a communal garden card, so again there is incentive to grab cards more quickly from the garden.

In the end, this is the choice I see. If the herb sets are valued at what they mathematically should be valued at, players would probably just go to try to collect all of one herb, because this would be overvalued (well, it be be valued for what it is really worth). Players who could just keep drawing to get the same herb could win by getting 6 herbs over the course of the game. Games would usually have wider scores too.

The choice I made was to give incentives to find the middle point of each pot and grab the cards from the communal garden more quickly and not get a huge scores from it.










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