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Subject: Wiping the available export contracts at the end of each round? rss

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Bill Gallagher
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Our group was toying with the idea of wiping the available export contracts at the end of each round. The logic behind this is that we feel the contracts aren't balanced.

Ideas on this are welcome.
 
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Doug Stewart
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I can see the logic in this. I might try first doing so only if no one picks a contract during a given round -- that is to say, the contracts are "stale".

I also see it as potentially game-breaking. Currently, you can attempt to game out a succession of contracts that may take a couple rounds to pay out. Wiping the board turns this into a tactical, not strategic affair. Many of your long-term plays would cease to make sense.
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Christopher Thomas
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Yuglooc wrote:
Our group was toying with the idea of wiping the available export contracts at the end of each round. The logic behind this is that we feel the contracts aren't balanced.

In what way do you feel the contracts ar not balanced? It seems to me that the contract that cost more goods generate higher rewards. Is that not balanced?
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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I'm the one who came up with the house rule.

No. Look at them. Look at what 6 wool gets you for example. Or the ease of certain ones vs other ones and then compare the rewards. Particularly when they give you a lot of sugar cane, tobacco, or cotton, the value of which is unknown.

Also there's no strategy in trying to save for contracts that are still on the board because there's no way of knowing you'll get the contracts. They are totally tactical.

We tried it for half a game after one player took a contract that was clearly superior to anything that was left.
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Dave Moser
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Some contracts are definitely better than others, but IMO, that isn't a flaw; it just means that turn order becomes more valuable.
 
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A Huynh
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dmoser22 wrote:
Some contracts are definitely better than others, but IMO, that isn't a flaw; it just means that turn order becomes more valuable.


Yeah I'd agree that the aspect of a limited contract market was one of the more interesting aspects of the game, you could plan ahead to what you could take next and completing a contract faster to snipe a good/optimal contract that supports your strategy each round is pretty important. It makes you consider the pace of your turns and the turn order passing at the end of the round. It also makes you watch other players and whether they might go for contracts you are planning for.
 
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Richard Dickson
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jschlickbernd wrote:
Particularly when they give you a lot of sugar cane, tobacco, or cotton, the value of which is unknown.


You're directly helping determine the value by the very act of turning in those contracts.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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katanan wrote:
dmoser22 wrote:
Some contracts are definitely better than others, but IMO, that isn't a flaw; it just means that turn order becomes more valuable.


Yeah I'd agree that the aspect of a limited contract market was one of the more interesting aspects of the game, you could plan ahead to what you could take next and completing a contract faster to snipe a good/optimal contract that supports your strategy each round is pretty important. It makes you consider the pace of your turns and the turn order passing at the end of the round. It also makes you watch other players and whether they might go for contracts you are planning for.


I don't understand the bolded statement. Unless we are playing the game completely wrong, you can't plan for any contract that's available to be taken because it may be taken. ???
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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DailyRich wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
Particularly when they give you a lot of sugar cane, tobacco, or cotton, the value of which is unknown.


You're directly helping determine the value by the very act of turning in those contracts.


My statement stands, it's unknown.
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Doug Stewart
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jschlickbernd wrote:
I don't understand the bolded statement. Unless we are playing the game completely wrong, you can't plan for any contract that's available to be taken because it may be taken. ???


In the same way that you plan to acquire cards in Splendor and can have your entire plan thrown into chaos by someone else snagging the card you had your eye on. You have to adapt.
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Jon
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jschlickbernd wrote:
DailyRich wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
Particularly when they give you a lot of sugar cane, tobacco, or cotton, the value of which is unknown.


You're directly helping determine the value by the very act of turning in those contracts.


My statement stands, it's unknown.


Unknown within a range of 3-5; there’s an official variant that also makes them all worth 4. Values are only determined by player actions and is fully traceable through the game. For those checking the forum who haven’t seen the game, it’s not like unknown here means it is a random d20 dice roll.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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zamoose wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
I don't understand the bolded statement. Unless we are playing the game completely wrong, you can't plan for any contract that's available to be taken because it may be taken. ???


In the same way that you plan to acquire cards in Splendor and can have your entire plan thrown into chaos by someone else snagging the card you had your eye on. You have to adapt.


Right so there's no real strategy involved, you may as well just look at the cards you can take when you can take them and then decide. Which again was my point. See if there was some indication of what people were going to take, then you could kind of figure out who was going to take what and the likelihood of the contract being there, but since the market is so volatile and other players can always go to the market, it's really a total crapshoot.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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ravenskana wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
DailyRich wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
Particularly when they give you a lot of sugar cane, tobacco, or cotton, the value of which is unknown.


You're directly helping determine the value by the very act of turning in those contracts.


My statement stands, it's unknown.


Unknown within a range of 3-5; there’s an official variant that also makes them all worth 4. Values are only determined by player actions and is fully traceable through the game. For those checking the forum who haven’t seen the game, it’s not like unknown here means it is a random d20 dice roll.


No, I never meant to imply that and really since this is in the variant section of the forum for the game, I think it's acceptable to assume that people would know the rules.

What I was saying is that you don't know the relative value, and since a lot of those goods can be in the game the end game swing can be significant. So leaving crummy contracts up from round 1 to round 5 just means that fewer players will get good ones and will certainly be at the luck of the draw by the end.

At any rate, really I'm leaning more and more toward selling it, it's not a competitive game for us. It's a good experience! but with the balance issues the way they are, it's not competitive. And with all the new stuff coming in shortly I doubt it'll get played much anymore anyway.
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Rebecca Carpenter
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ravenskana wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
DailyRich wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
Particularly when they give you a lot of sugar cane, tobacco, or cotton, the value of which is unknown.


You're directly helping determine the value by the very act of turning in those contracts.


My statement stands, it's unknown.


Unknown within a range of 3-5; there’s an official variant that also makes them all worth 4. Values are only determined by player actions and is fully traceable through the game. For those checking the forum who haven’t seen the game, it’s not like unknown here means it is a random d20 dice roll.


I've played 2P twice, the second time with this variant. It felt like it minimized some randomness, but retained the value of tempo/first player because even so some contracts are better than others (enjoying at 2P with husband).
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tibbles von tibbleton
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I've only got 3 plays in so far, but I feel like with more experience you can have a fairly good idea what contacts opponents might go for. Resources/production on hand are a good hint and even if you can buy anything on the market, that's more turns and less efficient. Which all lends to keeping contracts between rounds for some planning.

That said, it's also true that all 3 games 2 of our contracts sat there all 5 rounds, and it's really a shame to lose 25% of your slots to undesirable contracts with no mechanism to replace.
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Jon
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I have three plays so far, one each at 2P, 3P and 4P count, but I haven’t analyzed the contracts enough to have a strong opinion on them. I would say that so far the market for buying goods is less used than I had thought when reading the rules. I believe this is due to only having two merchants at the start of game, and in my plays people prioritized getting things on the board and upgrading shipping over acquiring merchants. This has meant that the contracts have been fairly easy to analyze. Each of us knew what others had in terms of available goods, money, and purchase opportunities. It never felt like someone could get just any contract and complete it using only merchants to buy what was required.

A couple of times a round began with a new contract coming out and it being desirable for multiple people, and that showed the importance of passing earlier in the previous round. I can see an argument that this might feel too lucky; if so, I’d suggest a variant where instead of drawing blindly from a face down stack, there was a “look ahead” queue of contracts and you could see which would be next to come into play. As for undesired contracts clogging the market, I haven’t seen that yet, but I’d remind people that there is already a mechanism to get contracts not on the board, by building the last of one of the processed good factories (cheese, bread, whiskey), and drawing three contracts.

I personally don’t like the idea of automatically clearing contracts at the end of the round, as I have seen where there was a contract I wanted but I needed to clear my current contract first, and it made more sense to wait until the production phase to get what I needed rather than pay high market prices, so instead used my final actions of the round preparing for the next contract I wanted. If a variant was desired here, I’d place money on each contract still left at the end of each round, perhaps 5 pounds making them more attractive in the next round.
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Jon
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jschlickbernd wrote:
ravenskana wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
DailyRich wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
Particularly when they give you a lot of sugar cane, tobacco, or cotton, the value of which is unknown.


You're directly helping determine the value by the very act of turning in those contracts.


My statement stands, it's unknown.


Unknown within a range of 3-5; there’s an official variant that also makes them all worth 4. Values are only determined by player actions and is fully traceable through the game. For those checking the forum who haven’t seen the game, it’s not like unknown here means it is a random d20 dice roll.


No, I never meant to imply that and really since this is in the variant section of the forum for the game, I think it's acceptable to assume that people would know the rules.

What I was saying is that you don't know the relative value, and since a lot of those goods can be in the game the end game swing can be significant. So leaving crummy contracts up from round 1 to round 5 just means that fewer players will get good ones and will certainly be at the luck of the draw by the end.

At any rate, really I'm leaning more and more toward selling it, it's not a competitive game for us. It's a good experience! but with the balance issues the way they are, it's not competitive. And with all the new stuff coming in shortly I doubt it'll get played much anymore anyway.


Fair enough, and elsewhere on these forums it sounds like preorders were much higher than the print run and while the game isn’t working for your group many others do seem to enjoy it and it has decent buzz right now. Which means now would be a good time to sell it; you’d possibly get more than you paid in an auction if that’s the route you chose.
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Willem Smoor
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ravenskana wrote:
a variant where instead of drawing blindly from a face down stack, there was a “look ahead” queue of contracts and you could see which would be next to come into play.

This exact variant was initially part of the game, but the upcoming contract queue was removed after playtesting. The designer discussed it in this video: https://youtu.be/7UxIpA-Ux-k?t=2258
In short, what he liked about it is that you could see the upcoming contracts – i.e. less luck and more strategizing – but feedback from playtesting led him to cut it from the game since it was found that it led to increased downtime, more AP and a longer game.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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ravenskana wrote:
I have three plays so far, one each at 2P, 3P and 4P count, but I haven’t analyzed the contracts enough to have a strong opinion on them. I would say that so far the market for buying goods is less used than I had thought when reading the rules. I believe this is due to only having two merchants at the start of game, and in my plays people prioritized getting things on the board and upgrading shipping over acquiring merchants. This has meant that the contracts have been fairly easy to analyze. Each of us knew what others had in terms of available goods, money, and purchase opportunities. It never felt like someone could get just any contract and complete it using only merchants to buy what was required.

A couple of times a round began with a new contract coming out and it being desirable for multiple people, and that showed the importance of passing earlier in the previous round. I can see an argument that this might feel too lucky; if so, I’d suggest a variant where instead of drawing blindly from a face down stack, there was a “look ahead” queue of contracts and you could see which would be next to come into play. As for undesired contracts clogging the market, I haven’t seen that yet, but I’d remind people that there is already a mechanism to get contracts not on the board, by building the last of one of the processed good factories (cheese, bread, whiskey), and drawing three contracts.

I personally don’t like the idea of automatically clearing contracts at the end of the round, as I have seen where there was a contract I wanted but I needed to clear my current contract first, and it made more sense to wait until the production phase to get what I needed rather than pay high market prices, so instead used my final actions of the round preparing for the next contract I wanted. If a variant was desired here, I’d place money on each contract still left at the end of each round, perhaps 5 pounds making them more attractive in the next round.


But you just can't take contracts when you want to. You have to complete them first. In the five games I've played I think two players have had space for a new contract once, otherwise player order doesn't even come into it.

I keep having to say this, but whatever you did to create the goods to fulfill a contract has nothing to do with whether or not the contract is there to fulfill it when you are ready for it.

Adding money to the old contracts is a good idea, we will try that. At least there'd be incentive to take the bad contracts.

Also since the mechanics and the rules of the game are really good, I may make an effort to re-balance the contracts (and the Clans...I don't like the auction idea). Of course whatever I produced would be print and play but it might be worth the effort.
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Jon
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jschlickbernd wrote:


I keep having to say this, but whatever you did to create the goods to fulfill a contract has nothing to do with whether or not the contract is there to fulfill it when you are ready for it.


I’ve both taken contracts and fulfilled them the next turn, and also took a contract as soon as I could as it met my goals but then had to hold it several turns to get the goods for it. Yes, there is the chance someone can take a contract you want before you can get it, but likewise, someone can grab a board position that you want before you do as well. Often I have found I had to choose between one or the other — I get the contract I want but by doing so give up on board spot I’d like.

I understand you can’t take a contract if you are holding on already, but I try to make the time between taking a contract and fulfilling it short, and I will leave my export space open if I don’t like the contracts on display, either waiting for new ones to come out, or building out my last bread/cheese/whiskey to draw from the stack. Again, sometimes I hold it longer, especially if by waiting til the production phase I can make everything I need for it, then omplete it as my first action of the next round.

Last game I completed seven contracts, my daughter got eight, and my wife only five. It was my wife’s first game and she held a contract much longer than she should have, having underestimated how hard it would be to complete.

For comparison, in Le Havre, one can gather resources in order to build a new building, but then have another player build what you wanted before you. You still have the resources, so you build something else, and maybe you have some extra wood or clay you were going to use but now didn’t, but you find a use for that later in the game.
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Terry Fung
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This is me adding wood to the fire.

What about making "clearing" a STRATEGIC action? What I mean is what if the last player MAY clear the contracts if they pay X amount? or X amount to other players?

Rationale:
If you clear the contract every turn, then the first player will clearly have more advantage especially if the player is hoarding resources.

Also, if you planned a turn to generate the resources you need but you know the contract will be cleared the next round, what's the point of that turn? At least with not clearing, getting your contract "stolen" is part of the player interaction. It's the players' responsibility to pay attention to other players actions and intent.

If you don't clear, then the contract gets "stale" and the game kinda slowed down. Every player is waiting for the previous player to open up the board by taking a bad contract.

By making it an action for the last player, the first player advantage is severely diminished because that player gets no guarantee that it will happen, and the last player may do it to clear a stale boards.

However, one disadvantage is that now, the last player can PURPOSEFULLY wreck another players turn by changing the contract so X has to be large enough to discourage that action unless it is "worth" it. The potential of X being GIVEN to other players can also be used to discourage that play.
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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As I mentioned turn order only matters in the rare (in our experience) times where two players have an opening for a contract. If you already have a contract then going first is no advantage.

The only problem is paying to wipe could mess with the money balance in the game. You don't want to have a spiraling down situation develop.

I guess we're playing differently than others because if someone noticed someone trying to save up for a contract they didn't have, that player would just take the contract.

Which leads me back to the conclusion I put in my comments, the game really isn't suited for competitive play in our opinion.
 
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Scott O'Brien
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I actually like the clearing at the end and wish it was either available as mandatory at end of round or as a paid action.
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Avery Bailey
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jschlickbernd wrote:
As I mentioned turn order only matters in the rare (in our experience) times where two players have an opening for a contract. If you already have a contract then going first is no advantage.

The only problem is paying to wipe could mess with the money balance in the game. You don't want to have a spiraling down situation develop.

I guess we're playing differently than others because if someone noticed someone trying to save up for a contract they didn't have, that player would just take the contract.

Which leads me back to the conclusion I put in my comments, the game really isn't suited for competitive play in our opinion.


Several times in games I've played, the right contract creates a race to finish your current contracts to grab that contract you can see someone else racing for as well.

This changes my order of operations significantly where I may not expand as quickly because I really need to buy that whisky to finish this contract before Zach can get the wool to finish his because we both want that contract with 3 cotton reward. Now I don't get to expand and take the neighbour bonus to get extra milk to sell at market and Harrison swoops in to take the last mountain I could afford to get my worker out.

This is a specific circumstance, but they kept coming up time and again.

Balancing the race for the contracts, race for board control, and jumping the market at the opportune moment, while taking advantage of any efficiencies is what holds me in the game. The decisions forced on you by knowing an opponent might take that contract is what builds the tension I want in this game.

As for the unknown value of export goods, the rules varients that come with the game suggest adding static value for export goods. That would fix that problem if you don't prefer the balancing act of the export market.

The most satisfying moment of my game last night was when sugar cane and tobacco were neck and neck, and realizing I had more tobacco then everyone, I grabbed and finished a sugar contract to ensure my tobacco would take 1st.
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Fabrice Dubois
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Avemo3 wrote:
Several times in games I've played, the right contract creates a race to finish your current contracts to grab that contract you can see someone else racing for as well.

This changes my order of operations significantly where I may not expand as quickly because I really need to buy that whisky to finish this contract before Zach can get the wool to finish his because we both want that contract with 3 cotton reward. Now I don't get to expand and take the neighbour bonus to get extra milk to sell at market and Harrison swoops in to take the last mountain I could afford to get my worker out.

This is a specific circumstance, but they kept coming up time and again.

Balancing the race for the contracts, race for board control, and jumping the market at the opportune moment, while taking advantage of any efficiencies is what holds me in the game. The decisions forced on you by knowing an opponent might take that contract is what builds the tension I want in this game.

This.

I second every single Avery's word.
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