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Subject: Does Clan Buchanan need buffing? rss

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Joel Oakley
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Yes, I know it's too early, but I wanted to go ahead and mention the possibility that Clan Buchanan might be a bit on the weak side. In both of the games I have played with Buchanan as one of the clans (yes, I know 2 games is not much data -- in neither of them did I play Buchanan, by the way), they have been resoundingly in last place -- around 40 to 50 points behind the rest of the players.

Additionally, there is this: What are your winning scores? And with which clan? From my initial perusal of the data there, the best placement for Buchanan was 2nd in a 4-player game (as well as some 2nd place finishes in 2-player games). The spread does not seem to be as large as my own data points, but there are definitely some examples there of substantial deficits in the end game score for Buchanan.

An obvious alternative to Buchanan being a weak clan is that they are just a difficult clan to play well for inexperienced players (which I guess most of us are right now -- I have only 5 plays in total myself). I do fear the draw of the contracts (specifically the ease or difficulty of the export contracts) has too much of an impact on Clan Buchanan's viability, but in my remembrance of the games I've witnessed, the Buchanan player has not made use of the building bonus (to mitigate the luck of the draw for the export contracts).

Perhaps the round scoring tiles are actually a more important aspect for Buchanan to pursue than trying to complete a lot of contracts. Maybe the 2 contract boxes make Buchanan players think they should definitely win the most export contracts, but in fact it might be better if they only complete a few very valuable ones.

If you think that Clan Buchanan might need buffing to be on par with the rest of the clans, what might be a simple way to do this? Personally, I think it's definitely too early to jump to such a conclusion, but the early data seems to indicate that Buchanan is either weak or needs an experienced chief leading them. Personally, I cannot wait to try playing as Buchanan to see if I can lead them better than others have thus far.
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Donald Macleod
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I agree with everything you say. Maybe they should be able to get contracts at a discount.
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Larry Rice
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Heh, I feel like Clan Buchanan is one of the strongest clans. I hammered the contracts hard and scored over 190 points with them. Granted, the contract draw does play a role and competition for the contracts can cause potential difficulty for Buchanan. Going early in turn order may be important for Buchanan depending on the game state so they can grab one or two easy contracts. I had the least infrastructure of everyone else (I kept selling my livestock to fulfill contracts) but had built all my lumberjacks by the third round and flipped the upgrade on the lumberjack with one of the contract tile rewards.
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Bill Buchanan
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Ya, I think Clan Buchanan should be given more abilities for sure
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Gavin Kenny
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I've only played once (in a 3 layer game) and Clan Buchanan were last. The player admitted that he had made some early mistakes, but I raised this as a possibility in the review that I wrote.

The debate that was had afterwards seemed to indicate that a) Buchanan were harder to play than many of the other clans and b) its strength depends a little on how cheap the initial contracts are to fulfill. I think that they can win if played well and a little fortune, but they would not be my first pick.

Gavin

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Bill Buchanan
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FYI, the designer has stated that Clan Buchanan is the hardest clan to play ...
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Juma Al-JouJou
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WBuchanan wrote:
FYI, the designer has stated that Clan Buchanan is the hardest clan to play ...


That does not mean they are the weakest. They are a bit like the Engineers in Terra Mystica that are difficult to play but quite strong in the hands of tournament players. I remember in my first play with the Engineers I lost badly and thought they are totally underpowered

I posted some strategy hints for Buchanan in some thread in here ...
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Bill Buchanan
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Innovatormentor wrote:
WBuchanan wrote:
FYI, the designer has stated that Clan Buchanan is the hardest clan to play ...


That does not mean they are the weakest.


Of course, it wasn't my intent to infer that they were
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Ponsonby Britt, OBE
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Innovatormentor wrote:
I posted some strategy hints for Buchanan in some thread in here ...

A few strategy hints for Buchanan

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S. Mileta
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Played 5 times. Buchanans are straight out the strongest clan, since the contracts are, unfortunately, the dominant strategy. Scored 156 with them, and that was with one bad contract choice which locked me up for some time + with 2 out of 5 rounds being done for me after only several moves (opponents kept playing for quite some time after that) since I had relatively weak income (about 30-40 per round total) + not doing much in the settlement field (as is suggested with them) + having put maybe 4 buildings in total by the end of the game, so not having notable production either. With other clans when I felt particularly good I scored around 120-130.

I applaud everything this game does (rate 10), especially the potential for asymmetry, but contracts are sadly dominant and not to be ignored if you are aiming for win... In Marco Polo, which has let's say 2 main possibilities, you can play on them, but you can also more or less ignore them and still win. Here that's not the case, so the rate sinks to around 8. Maybe leaving Buchanans out of the mix would save the game however...
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Mathue Faulkner
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Zhovijalno wrote:
Played 5 times. Buchanans are straight out the strongest clan, since the contracts are, unfortunately, the dominant strategy. Scored 156 with them, and that was with one bad contract choice which locked me up for some time + with 2 out of 5 rounds being done for me after only several moves (opponents kept playing for quite some time after that) since I had relatively weak income (about 30-40 per round total) + not doing much in the settlement field (as is suggested with them) + having put maybe 4 buildings in total by the end of the game, so not having notable production either. With other clans when I felt particularly good I scored around 120-130.

I applaud everything this game does (rate 10), especially the potential for asymmetry, but contracts are sadly dominant and not to be ignored if you are aiming for win... In Marco Polo, which has let's say 2 main possibilities, you can play on them, but you can also more or less ignore them and still win. Here that's not the case, so the rate sinks to around 8. Maybe leaving Buchanans out of the mix would save the game however...

Why is it an issue if the contracts are a central part of the game? Having a central aspect of the game creates competition.

As for Clan Buchanan, I haven't played with them but I'm far from convinced by a score of 156. In our first and only game, my wife scored a similar score and she didn't even feel like she knew what she was doing.
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Joel Oakley
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mfaulk80 wrote:
As for Clan Buchanan, I haven't played with them but I'm far from convinced by a score of 156. In our first and only game, my wife scored a similar score and she didn't even feel like she knew what she was doing.

I agree. I have seen winning scores in the low 100s (around 120) and also in the upper 100s (around 180). I think it really varies from game to game based on the scoring tiles, port bonuses, and contract availability.
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tibbles von tibbleton
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mfaulk80 wrote:
Zhovijalno wrote:
Played 5 times. Buchanans are straight out the strongest clan, since the contracts are, unfortunately, the dominant strategy. Scored 156 with them, and that was with one bad contract choice which locked me up for some time + with 2 out of 5 rounds being done for me after only several moves (opponents kept playing for quite some time after that) since I had relatively weak income (about 30-40 per round total) + not doing much in the settlement field (as is suggested with them) + having put maybe 4 buildings in total by the end of the game, so not having notable production either. With other clans when I felt particularly good I scored around 120-130.

I applaud everything this game does (rate 10), especially the potential for asymmetry, but contracts are sadly dominant and not to be ignored if you are aiming for win... In Marco Polo, which has let's say 2 main possibilities, you can play on them, but you can also more or less ignore them and still win. Here that's not the case, so the rate sinks to around 8. Maybe leaving Buchanans out of the mix would save the game however...

Why is it an issue if the contracts are a central part of the game? Having a central aspect of the game creates competition.

As for Clan Buchanan, I haven't played with them but I'm far from convinced by a score of 156. In our first and only game, my wife scored a similar score and she didn't even feel like she knew what she was doing.


Yes. If the game theme is based around exporting goods via contract, it doesn't seem out of place for contracts to be important for winning. Not every game needs a point salad and if you only focused buildings in this game it'd just be a weaker TM clone. It's the contracts and market that make it different, so one would hope their use plays in to winning strategies.

As to Buchanan, I can't speak to if they are under/over powered, but I definitely feel that scores vary like 30pts based on round scoring, clans, and contracts available before even considering opponents, so 156 doesn't mean much. One of my first games I scored 192 with Cunningham, but that was more a side effect of import good luck and unskilled opponents letting me get first in both contracts and network. All scores since have been lower, despite me hypothetically being better at the game.
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S. Mileta
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It's not bad per se, it's just bad for me – I like specialization, and so would like to be able to (more or less) completely ignore one aspect of the game and still be competitive. You can do it with any other aspect, just not with the contracts. Specialization is rare in eurogames, but I was hoping…

Let's not go too much in thematic aspects – judging by the flavor text in the rulebook it's actually a game about everything: production, trade and export, not just export. Or, if you want to be "rigidly thematic", exporting only whiskey should be stronger than anything else, which I am not quite convinced it is. In the game about industrialization, exporting is only one part of the mosaic. And when we are at it, in all of my games market was rather static… But ok, in Navegador (where it came from) there is another problem – market locks in highs or lows by the mid-game phase.

What is relevant for the OP is that both of you see that contracts are the most important, so the clan ability dealing with them is obviously the strongest. What's more, most other abilities are dealing with income – buying or placing is discounted, extra money is given for milk or whiskey and so forth. Buchanan ability deals directly with VPs + with income (contracts are waaay cheaper + in the first round can provide).

I'm not saying 156 is a relevant score, it's just relevant relative to my 5 games + I said I had at least 2/5 bad turns.

P. S. The variant in which three import goods are all multiplied by 4 doesn't do much in this regard, and kills the interactivity which I find commendable. But when you account your point salad (or let's be gentle - you "bravo for everything score sheet") multipliers for them are always going to be the largest sum of points.

It's just that I was hoping the game is not going to incline so strong towards fulfilling contracts.
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M. C. DeMarco
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Gypsy_m0th wrote:
I agree with everything you say. Maybe they should be able to get contracts at a discount.


Note to the reader: they do get contracts at a discount.
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Alex Bardy
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Zhovijalno wrote:
Played 5 times. Buchanans are straight out the strongest clan, since the contracts are, unfortunately, the dominant strategy. Scored 156 with them, and that was with one bad contract choice which locked me up for some time + with 2 out of 5 rounds being done for me after only several moves (opponents kept playing for quite some time after that) since I had relatively weak income (about 30-40 per round total) + not doing much in the settlement field (as is suggested with them) + having put maybe 4 buildings in total by the end of the game, so not having notable production either. With other clans when I felt particularly good I scored around 120-130.



I disagree with this. Buchanan are very difficult to play and in a catch-22, particularly if you haven't got your 'engine' running by turn 3 because contracts become extremely expensive to take out. On turns 1 and 2 (when contracts are easy to obtain), the Buchanan player can't take proper advantage because there's no production engine at work... and trying to 'buy their way through contracts' isn't practical because that affects their chance of getting any form of engine going for later turns...?

I appreciate it's not a lot of data to go on, but in the 4 or so games I've had so far, Clan MacKenzie (the whisky dealers) have been way out in front by at least 35-40 points in three of them [wasn't in the fourth] -- taking a hit on settlements doesn't counter the ridiculous money they earn through whisky production and aging... by investing in a wheat field (or two if they can afford it!), they're collecting an extra 6-12 money out of whisky production every turn from turn 2 or 3, and then make more money through their whisky aging process as well, meaning that by turn 4 or 5 their effectively buying everything they need to complete contracts later in the game...

I would add that Clans Campbell, Robertson and Stewart seem the easiest ones to play (strategically), and although Clan Cunningham can get a good engine together, they generally do not seem able to buy or make enough milk to properly benefit in the same way that MacKenzie do with their whisky distillery.

It may be too early to call after just four games, but this is what we've found so far... I did think we should try MacKenzie without the extra £3 for each whisky barrel produced, but haven't yet put this to the rest of the group - might prove an interesting 'test-game' though... Has anyone already tried this? Or found similar experiences with the MacKenzie clan?


 
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Adam P
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Clan Buchanan is great, needs no modifying. Yes, it's strong. Sign of a good game, too, if views are divided on a power.

Don't forget: You can get 2 contracts for ONE price in the later rounds (saves you 15 coin). You can fulfill 2 contracts at once (saves you an action). Also, if you complete a column of factories onto the board, you can take up to 2 out of 6 random tiles.

OTOH, Clan Cunningham may need nurfing.
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Clyde W
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Which one is that?
 
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mfl134
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Gypsy_m0th wrote:
I agree with everything you say. Maybe they should be able to get contracts at a discount.


isn't 2 for 1 a discount?
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mfl134
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clydeiii wrote:
Which one is that?


- Has 2 Export Squares
- Can get 2 export tiles at the same time for the price of 1
- can fulfill 2 export tiles at the same time
- when drawing random export tiles, can draw 6 and choose 0-2 of them.
 
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Chris Sauer
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Zhovijalno wrote:
Played 5 times. Buchanans are straight out the strongest clan, since the contracts are, unfortunately, the dominant strategy. Scored 156 with them, and that was with one bad contract choice which locked me up for some time + with 2 out of 5 rounds being done for me after only several moves (opponents kept playing for quite some time after that) since I had relatively weak income (about 30-40 per round total) + not doing much in the settlement field (as is suggested with them) + having put maybe 4 buildings in total by the end of the game, so not having notable production either. With other clans when I felt particularly good I scored around 120-130.

I applaud everything this game does (rate 10), especially the potential for asymmetry, but contracts are sadly dominant and not to be ignored if you are aiming for win... In Marco Polo, which has let's say 2 main possibilities, you can play on them, but you can also more or less ignore them and still win. Here that's not the case, so the rate sinks to around 8. Maybe leaving Buchanans out of the mix would save the game however...


Yeah I don't understand this comment. The game is thematically about converting agricultural goods into higher value goods and importing goods that Scotland traditionally had no experience with.
So the fulfilling of contracts that do exactly that makes sense!
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Jeffrey Day
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The Clan Buchanan player has dominated in our games. They are able to gain (1st round) and save money every round by having an extra spot for a contract. If they pick contracts with diverse requirements from each other, there contract fulfillment is more flexible and less likely to be affected by the flows of the game. They are less likely to be affected by market fluctuations by having a wider variety of goods as requirements. Also, more of the expansion neighbor bonuses are likely to be helpful.
 
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