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Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island» Forums » General

Subject: Victory seems... ...anti-climactic... rss

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Jeff Knapp
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Hey BGG'ers!

So I just picked up this game not too long ago, and first off I'll say that I LIKE it. It's challenging, the rules actually aren't that hard to grasp and teach, and while it's certainly punishing, I like that the difficulty can be adjusted in a multitude of ways.

I first played it on Thanksgiving Day - I was playing solo (Castaways) as my wife and daughter were out of town (I had to work the weekend.) I lost twice in a row to death, as I didn't focus on upgrading the shelter. I also didn't grasp the significance of having both the hatchet and the shortcut as early-as-possible.

On my third attempt, I won. In fact, I won on turn 10 as I worked early-on to build up my shelter and get those production-boosting inventions in place. But the thing was, as I placed the last few pieces of wood on the 5th "stack" of the woodpile, and sorta looked across the board to confirm that - yeup - the fire was already invented, I didn't *feel* victorious. First, I kept feeling like I either cheated or I forgot something that should have caused me to fail (though I've watched several videos and feel confident that I understand the rules.) But I think it has something to do with the fact that you have to plan so thoroughly in the game, that you basically know you've won before you get to the point of physically setting the wood onto the pile.

Last night my wife and I played together. She had never played, so I gave a quick run-down of the game, and then basically taught her the details as we played a game. It worked really well. But again, as I built the mast which provided the last three wood for the 5th stack of the woodpile, there was no celebration. No excitement. No thrill of victory. Basically, I knew I was going to build the mast that turn, I knew I would succeed (2 pawns), I knew we already had 12 of the 15 pieces of the wood on the pile, and I knew that the upcoming event card - while it would probably cause us some grief - wouldn't be able to stop us, no matter what it did. So I knew we would win before we physically won.

I guess I'm curious if there's a way to make victory "sweeter". Now, I know I could up the challenge, but again, due to the pre-planning required to play the game, I'd still know "hey we're going to win" or "hey there's no way we're going to win..." I mean, the failure usually surprises you, so there's that... "Oh crap we just rolled 3 snow clouds and have no wood and WOW that's going to cause some wounds and oh hey look I'm dead game over..."

Are other scenarios different? I mean I think, had we had 13 of the 15 pieces and gone exploring and found the oil, that would have provided a "holy crap we just won!" moment... So maybe it was just the way we played that particular game? I dunno... I even wonder if an action space on the scenario card that read, "Board the ship and leave the island!" that you could place all pawns on during the actions phase would provide that sort of "closure".

Don't get me wrong though - I really like the game, and I truly love the customization aspects it provides. I'm already working on my own scenario that I'm really excited to design the card for and even 2 new characters.
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Darin Bolyard
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Sometimes, a victory or a loss can be rather anticlimactic. It doesn't always come down to the wire. When it does, a victory is definitely sweet, and even a loss can be epic. However, it typically just depends on how the cards fall.
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Kevin Fowle
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I find that this game is more about the journey then the destination, to use a cliche.

In other words I personally get more enjoyment out of the story the game creates as you play, over the joy of winning.
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Tristan Hall
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Victory =
Defeat = no
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Kristijan Petrovski
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The game is very puzzley, while I agree that the moment you realise that I am 1 turn from winning and there is nothing that will stop me can be anticlimactic. I find that the Aha! moment of when I figure out how to win... That is what gives me the Victory high... This game is HARD, and the scenarios all require a different approach, so the moment when I device the plan of action is my climactic point, granted it happens near the middle of the scenario... But that is probably the 3rd or 4th time playing that scenario...
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Jeff Knapp
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Well, I'm at least glad to know it's not just me.

I do think however that, when I get my own scenario up and running, I'm going to try to build that "Victory!" action onto the sheet or something.

I remember when I first beat Pandemic in a solo-playthrough - I beat it on the last possible turn, because at the end of that turn I didn't have 2 cards available to draw... But during my action phase I placed the 5 cards required to beat the last disease, and slide that "cure" token up onto the last space on the board.

And I was ecstatic.

The pride came from the fact that I had never won the game. But the thrill came from the physical act of dropping those cards and sliding that token. Something about that physical motion was fun.

So I wonder if, maybe you had a physical "pile" of wood tokens and could "drop" the last few pieces on (but then it'd be hard to keep track of how many are there - I get that,) or maybe a small ship token that could be used to slide your tokens away from the island... I dunno if any of that makes sense, but I just think that a physical "move" you could build into the game/scenario to drive home that feeling of victory would be a fun addition to the gameplay's finale.
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Stan Matz
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Every time I think I've planned it out and I'm sure to win the damn tiger shows up and wrecks everything.
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al cann
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Pick up the "Voyage of the Beagle" expansion. The 5 scenario campaign adds more of what you appear to be looking for, with each victory.
 
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Ryan Steffen
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I felt the same way the first time I won on Game 5 of attempting Castaways. I feel like a lot of this game is about getting lucky with cards drawn and weather dice rolls. If you can avoid major setbacks the first handful of rounds and have shelter and a roof in place by the time weather hits, you have a pretty good shot.
 
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Cameron Adams
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My two cents...
Every time I can manage to beat Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island I have a satisfaction similar to solving a large riddle and/or puzzle. Yes, sometimes you will know you are going to win a few turns prior to the game ending however, that is when I like to go back, summarize what I've done/encountered and tell myself (or the other players) a short story of our success (but usually failure). However, sometimes it does come down to the wire, where you are riding on a roll of the dice to collect that last item or, drawing that card to see if you can make it one last night on the island!

Also, For those that say this game is about "getting lucky" I would say this... You usually NEVER have to roll dice or draw adventure cards if you don't want to (ie: guarantee success for every action by using 2 pawns). You can mitigate many of the negative effects by utilizing certain inventions, increasing certain levels at the right time, utilizing the tidy and rest actions correctly, etc. This game is all about timing and planning. I can see where some people may get frustrated when they have to roll weather dice and hope for a good roll (because they didn't build up their shelter adequately) BUT... it is realistic. No one can predict the weather! Also, drawing adventure cards by doing an action, on an unknown island, by yourself, is unpredictable. I see all of the randomness in this game as thematic and realistic which is why I love this game!

I understand the game is not for everyone and it may provide less thrilling victories at the finish however, the game is hard/difficult for a reason and just being able to say that you made it off this wretched island is victory enough for me .
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Jeff Knapp
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I with ya Cameron - luck factors in during the first few turns - when you have no shelter, you have no supply lines in place, you have no tools, and you draw an event that forces a beast down your throat that forces you to take wounds AND downgrade a palisades that you don't have and you're forced to sleep overnight in the wild and suffer half of your health points in one shot... But it's early, you have health points to spare, and you keep trudging yourself towards victory, turn by turn - mitigating disaster, upgrading your home, and preparing for nature's nasty little surprises.

I didn't necessarily recant the story, but when my wife and I played last night, I'd kinda turn each action into a story. "Well, I got it built, but damn did I ever smash my thumb with that make-shift hammer... Hurts like hell.... *slides wound marker up one*..." It made each round a tad more interesting, but it didn't help make the victory more of a "eureka" moment.

It's alright though - I've got some ideas on how to "fix" it. 'Cuz my biggest concern is when we invite people to play who maybe aren't super board-gamers, and they find themselves bored with a victory to the point that they aren't interested in playing again.
 
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George Aristides
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The castaways scenario is an easy, introductory scenario.

If you play incorrectly (waste wood, ignore shelter/roof, don't build the hatchet etc.) you will lose hard, but if you know how to play it properly you can plan in advance and guarantee a win (barring really bad luck).

It's meant to be like that; other scenarios can be a lot trickier (e.g. volcano island and cannibal island).
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Aleksander Idziak
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IMO most exciting winnings are the ones when your winning is decided in last moments. As some previously wrote, castaways is easy if you know what to do. Try more difficult scenarios or change the level of difficulty,
 
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I did feel exactly like you described when I first won. Castaways game end is a little anti-climatic, unless of course you tell yourself a story of survival and escape as you board the ship. But I just paid it no mind and focused on what I really enjoyed in my game. I think the game has plenty of other strengths you can appreciate.

For example, when I play Shadowrun: Crossfire, it also often ends with me saying, "Yup, I have the right cards in my hand to defeat all obstacles this turn, so I won." And I don't even bother finishing the round once I'm sure of victory. It doesn't stop me giving Shadowrun a 9 and greatly enjoying playing it though.

My hypothesis is that different people will give high or low importance to having a satisfying ending based on where they fall on the spectrum between:

(a) "When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning" - Dr. Reiner Knizia

(b) "Winning is Everything! Losing is Nothing! I don't care what Dr. Knizia says!"

Naturally, having a satisfying victory is more important to people on the (b) end of spectrum, whereas the (a) folk tend to appreciate the gameplay (or the "journey") first and foremost.
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