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Subject: 2p game - Game over after 1st round? rss

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Linda Chov
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Is it possible to have such a good first round that your engine is going to be too powerful to be stopped?

It seemed that way last night in a 2p game we had. After the first round one player (extra contract space clan) took 3 contracts, one at a time, for 15 coins, completing one of them of course, and also built 7 workers when the round scoring tile was for workers.

They therefore had 2 contracts to complete and an income 20% greater than the other player, which got greater and greater as they completed more contracts and got the benefits from them as they generally spread out.

One thing they did, as much out of necessity as strategy, was to take meat heavy contracts. In a 2p game these always seem more powerful as it's often possible to build a cow or sheep and slaughter them without the treat of someone taking your cheap space afterwards. The losing player didn't do terribly, getting to 6 contracts, having area scoring and getting to 3 ports, but it seemed that after the opening round there was little chance to catch up, and the final score wasn't even worth counting it was such a blowout.

Any thoughts on these points on such a severe 2p snowball and meat contracts in a 2p game?
 
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Dave Moser
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Even given the $15 from taking contracts, I'm having a hard time figuring out how someone gets seven workers out in the first round. That's $54 in unit cost, plus at least $20 in land cost, since I don't see how you could find enough adjacent spaces for less than $3 to do any better than that. I suppose maybe if your starting tile gave you everything you needed to fulfill the 1st contract, AND that contract gave you cash back, maybe??? Sounds like some kind of record to me, though.

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Evan Dunn
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In the two player game I played we had a snowball where one player was the milkmaid and the losing player was the clan that builds next to rivers at a discount. It seems like there might be a few matchups in 2 player mode that don't align well in terms of power.

More data needed or course because it's hard to say anything is unbalanced because of so few plays, but my suspicion is that certain player powers do need the tension of at least a third player in order to be kept in check so to speak.
 
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Linda Chov
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So they had the tile that gives $60 and only 2 goods.

I think the contract completed gave 15 pounds.

One seller cube went to sell the other good. One bought the only good needed for the contract.

The 2nd player did get all stoneworkers out and upgraded the tech for 32 income a round, and completed one contract and took another, which I reckon is pretty good first turn, at least in our other games it would have been, but they appeared to be completely wiped out.



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Ryan O
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To some extent, I think the answer to your question is 'yes'. This is an economic/engine-building game, and so a better engine can definitely snowball. Of course, there are ways to hamper your opponent and muck up their engine. You can pass early, aiming to take the contracts they want; you can try to block them from expanding to attractive places on the map (like ports or the central loch); and if they're slaughtering a lot of animals, you can upgrade your shipping to snatch away cheap hexes (at least along lochs).

What I'm impressed/puzzled about is that the one player got 7 workers out in round one. Either they put our four woodsmen and three miners, or they put out three woodsmen and four miners. So that's £24+£30=£54 in the first case, and £18+£40=£68 in the second---and that's only the unit costs! Likely, they started with £55 plus the £15 from taking contracts. Considering the cheapest scenario, that's £70–£54=£16 left for hex costs. The average hex cost then had to have been just under £2.3/hex. I don't have the map tiles in front of me, but it seems really unlikely that they could have strung together enough woods and mountain hexes so cheaply, especially since they couldn't have upgraded their shipping much, if at all. I don't want to allege rulebreaking, but is it possible you were building workers on fields, or were ignoring the hex costs?

Another possibility: the port tile that lets you swap two units from the board could help avoid costs for the miners. If you place some cheap units, like sheep or certain factories, then you could save £4 altogether when you swap miners in for cheaper units. But that only gives you £16+£4=£20 left over for hex costs, or just under £3 per hex. And it seems unlikely to me (again, without looking at the map tiles) that the player could secure such cheap expansion without significant shipping upgrades.\

Maybe I'm wrong, and it is possible to expand that much so cheaply. In that case, I think the stronger counter is to place your units nearer your opponent, to make sure they can't take all those attractive hexes.
 
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Linda Chov
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Thanks to Ryan above, and it looks like we wrote at the same time.

Above is how the person's turn played out for 7 workers.
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Linda Chov
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Off the top of my head they had 60 pounds, plus 15 for completing a contract, 4 for selling a good, and 15 for taking contracts.

So that's a total amount of 94 pounds.
 
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raddar2213 wrote:
To some extent, I think the answer to your question is 'yes'. This is an economic/engine-building game, and so a better engine can definitely snowball. Of course, there are ways to hamper your opponent and muck up their engine. You can pass early, aiming to take the contracts they want; you can try to block them from expanding to attractive places on the map (like ports or the central loch); and if they're slaughtering a lot of animals, you can upgrade your shipping to snatch away cheap hexes (at least along lochs).

What I'm impressed/puzzled about is that the one player got 7 workers out in round one. Either they put our four woodsmen and three miners, or they put out three woodsmen and four miners. So that's £24+£30=£54 in the first case, and £18+£40=£68 in the second---and that's only the unit costs! Likely, they started with £55 plus the £15 from taking contracts. Considering the cheapest scenario, that's £70–£54=£16 left for hex costs. The average hex cost then had to have been just under £2.3/hex. I don't have the map tiles in front of me, but it seems really unlikely that they could have strung together enough woods and mountain hexes so cheaply, especially since they couldn't have upgraded their shipping much, if at all. I don't want to allege rulebreaking, but is it possible you were building workers on fields, or were ignoring the hex costs?

Another possibility: the port tile that lets you swap two units from the board could help avoid costs for the miners. If you place some cheap units, like sheep or certain factories, then you could save £4 altogether when you swap miners in for cheaper units. But that only gives you £16+£4=£20 left over for hex costs, or just under £3 per hex. And it seems unlikely to me (again, without looking at the map tiles) that the player could secure such cheap expansion without significant shipping upgrades.\

Maybe I'm wrong, and it is possible to expand that much so cheaply. In that case, I think the stronger counter is to place your units nearer your opponent, to make sure they can't take all those attractive hexes.


IIRC, all the starting tiles give you an additional 19-21 pounds in value of starting goods assuming the starting market values (and you have enough merchants to convert the goods). Given that plus the OP said the completed contract provided 15 pounds plus a possible 10 pound port (?) makes 7 workers quite plausible.
 
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Linda Chov
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7 workers in and of itself doesn't have to be the end of the game I don't think. However, one would think usually that you'd have to give up everything else to get to that point.

This game however had a contract completed and 2 more in hand to work on by the end of the first round, which seemed like no way back. In multiplayer, it would have been possible to block a bit more, rack up the price of certain goods in the market, the suitable contracts might have been taken etc.. but not really in 2p. If you start close, you'll build close, but if you start far apart it takes a while to get close.
 
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Ryan O
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dhousten wrote:
raddar2213 wrote:
To some extent, I think the answer to your question is 'yes'. This is an economic/engine-building game, and so a better engine can definitely snowball. Of course, there are ways to hamper your opponent and muck up their engine. You can pass early, aiming to take the contracts they want; you can try to block them from expanding to attractive places on the map (like ports or the central loch); and if they're slaughtering a lot of animals, you can upgrade your shipping to snatch away cheap hexes (at least along lochs).

What I'm impressed/puzzled about is that the one player got 7 workers out in round one. Either they put our four woodsmen and three miners, or they put out three woodsmen and four miners. So that's £24+£30=£54 in the first case, and £18+£40=£68 in the second---and that's only the unit costs! Likely, they started with £55 plus the £15 from taking contracts. Considering the cheapest scenario, that's £70–£54=£16 left for hex costs. The average hex cost then had to have been just under £2.3/hex. I don't have the map tiles in front of me, but it seems really unlikely that they could have strung together enough woods and mountain hexes so cheaply, especially since they couldn't have upgraded their shipping much, if at all. I don't want to allege rulebreaking, but is it possible you were building workers on fields, or were ignoring the hex costs?

Another possibility: the port tile that lets you swap two units from the board could help avoid costs for the miners. If you place some cheap units, like sheep or certain factories, then you could save £4 altogether when you swap miners in for cheaper units. But that only gives you £16+£4=£20 left over for hex costs, or just under £3 per hex. And it seems unlikely to me (again, without looking at the map tiles) that the player could secure such cheap expansion without significant shipping upgrades.\

Maybe I'm wrong, and it is possible to expand that much so cheaply. In that case, I think the stronger counter is to place your units nearer your opponent, to make sure they can't take all those attractive hexes.


IIRC, all the starting tiles give you an additional 19-21 pounds in value of starting goods assuming the starting market values (and you have enough merchants to convert the goods). Given that plus the OP said the completed contract provided 15 pounds plus a possible 10 pound port (?) makes 7 workers quite plausible.


Yeah, I didn't anticipate contracts that give extra money. Another route to 7 workers in round one could be by way of a contract that gives a free expansion action. But off the top of my head, I don't think many (any?) of those are completable with just two resources (which was the case in Linda's game). I'm also somewhat surprised that there's a two-good contract that gives £15. Maybe that mostly gives money, plus some hops? I'd guess that there are very few such contracts in the game. And recognizing their power in the early game seems like an excellent lesson (at least for me!).

About ports: few are accessible without shipping upgrades in the two-player game, so that £10 bonus would really be something like £6, most likely.

I wonder what others think of my suggestion, that placing workers near your opponent is a good counter to this sort of rapid/cheap expansion. This might be especially important in circumstances similar to what Linda describes: (i) a first round contract that enables quick expansion, (ii) which your opponent can complete, and (iii) where that opponent is the starting player.
 
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Linda Chov
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raddar2213 wrote:
dhousten wrote:
raddar2213 wrote:
To some extent, I think the answer to your question is 'yes'. This is an economic/engine-building game, and so a better engine can definitely snowball. Of course, there are ways to hamper your opponent and muck up their engine. You can pass early, aiming to take the contracts they want; you can try to block them from expanding to attractive places on the map (like ports or the central loch); and if they're slaughtering a lot of animals, you can upgrade your shipping to snatch away cheap hexes (at least along lochs).

What I'm impressed/puzzled about is that the one player got 7 workers out in round one. Either they put our four woodsmen and three miners, or they put out three woodsmen and four miners. So that's £24+£30=£54 in the first case, and £18+£40=£68 in the second---and that's only the unit costs! Likely, they started with £55 plus the £15 from taking contracts. Considering the cheapest scenario, that's £70–£54=£16 left for hex costs. The average hex cost then had to have been just under £2.3/hex. I don't have the map tiles in front of me, but it seems really unlikely that they could have strung together enough woods and mountain hexes so cheaply, especially since they couldn't have upgraded their shipping much, if at all. I don't want to allege rulebreaking, but is it possible you were building workers on fields, or were ignoring the hex costs?

Another possibility: the port tile that lets you swap two units from the board could help avoid costs for the miners. If you place some cheap units, like sheep or certain factories, then you could save £4 altogether when you swap miners in for cheaper units. But that only gives you £16+£4=£20 left over for hex costs, or just under £3 per hex. And it seems unlikely to me (again, without looking at the map tiles) that the player could secure such cheap expansion without significant shipping upgrades.\

Maybe I'm wrong, and it is possible to expand that much so cheaply. In that case, I think the stronger counter is to place your units nearer your opponent, to make sure they can't take all those attractive hexes.


IIRC, all the starting tiles give you an additional 19-21 pounds in value of starting goods assuming the starting market values (and you have enough merchants to convert the goods). Given that plus the OP said the completed contract provided 15 pounds plus a possible 10 pound port (?) makes 7 workers quite plausible.


Yeah, I didn't anticipate contracts that give extra money. Another route to 7 workers in round one could be by way of a contract that gives a free expansion action. But off the top of my head, I don't think many (any?) of those are completable with just two resources (which was the case in Linda's game). I'm also somewhat surprised that there's a two-good contract that gives £15. Maybe that mostly gives money, plus some hops? I'd guess that there are very few such contracts in the game. And recognizing their power in the early game seems like an excellent lesson (at least for me!).

About ports: few are accessible without shipping upgrades in the two-player game, so that £10 bonus would really be something like £6, most likely.

I wonder what others think of my suggestion, that placing workers near your opponent is a good counter to this sort of rapid/cheap expansion. This might be especially important in circumstances similar to what Linda describes: (i) a first round contract that enables quick expansion, (ii) which your opponent can complete, and (iii) where that opponent is the starting player.


Next time around it would be a good idea to start close together. However, it also seems like far from a good idea to take contracts that can't easily be completed and don't play to your clan's strengths just to stop the other guy getting it. Might stop a runaway win, but if hurting yourself is the price there's a decent chance you'd lose anyway.
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Ryan O
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Okay, so curiosity got the better of me. I went looking through the contracts to see which would be especially good for early game expansion. My criteria: contracts that i) require 3 or fewer goods and no more than one meat, and ii) give £8+, a free expansion, or both. Here's what I found:

2 bread ==> 2 cotton + free expansion + £10
1 bread + 1 whisky ==> £15 + 8 hops
2 whisky ==> 2 tobacco + £10 + 1 hop
2 cheese ==> 1 sugarcane + £8 + 5 hops
1 lamb + 1 cheese ==> 2 cotton + £10 + free expansion
1 lamb + 1 yarn ==> 1 tobacco + free expansion + 3 hops
1 yarn + 2 bread ==> 2 sugarcane + free expansion + 3 hops
2 bread + 1 cheese ==> 3 cotton + free expansion + 1 hop
1 bread + 1 cheese + 1 whisky ==> 3 tobacco + 2 upgrades + £10

None of the starting resource tiles give more than one processed good, and each of the two-good contracts above require two processed goods. So extra spending (on top of the money from selling one unprocessed good) is required to complete those, probably £5-6.

From what I can tell, the 2 bread contract looks the best for expansion. If you start with bread, sell an unprocessed good, and buy another bread, you could pay £5–6 to get £10 and a free expansion. That would be huge in the first round, I think.

More importantly: that's one contract out of 50, only 3/9 starting resource tiles give bread, you have to be starting player to be guaranteed that contract, and you need to be Clan Buchanan to get £15 from pulling contracts. So even if you can wrap up the game in round one in part by nabbing that contract---something that's still undecided, I think---that's really unlikely to happen.
 
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Linda Chov
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raddar2213 wrote:
Okay, so curiosity got the better of me. I went looking through the contracts to see which would be especially good for early game expansion. My criteria: contracts that i) require 3 or fewer goods and no more than one meat, and ii) give £8+, a free expansion, or both. Here's what I found:

2 bread ==> 2 cotton + free expansion + £10
1 bread + 1 whisky ==> £15 + 8 hops
2 whisky ==> 2 tobacco + £10 + 1 hop
2 cheese ==> 1 sugarcane + £8 + 5 hops
1 lamb + 1 cheese ==> 2 cotton + £10 + free expansion
1 lamb + 1 yarn ==> 1 tobacco + free expansion + 3 hops
1 yarn + 2 bread ==> 2 sugarcane + free expansion + 3 hops
2 bread + 1 cheese ==> 3 cotton + free expansion + 1 hop
1 bread + 1 cheese + 1 whisky ==> 3 tobacco + 2 upgrades + £10

None of the starting resource tiles give more than one processed good, and each of the two-good contracts above require two processed goods. So extra spending (on top of the money from selling one unprocessed good) is required to complete those, probably £5-6.

From what I can tell, the 2 bread contract looks the best for expansion. If you start with bread, sell an unprocessed good, and buy another bread, you could pay £5–6 to get £10 and a free expansion. That would be huge in the first round, I think.

More importantly: that's one contract out of 50, only 3/9 starting resource tiles give bread, you have to be starting player to be guaranteed that contract, and you need to be Clan Buchanan to get £15 from pulling contracts. So even if you can wrap up the game in round one in part by nabbing that contract---something that's still undecided, I think---that's really unlikely to happen.


I'm pretty sure the round 1 contract completed in our game was the one bread, one whisky for 15 pounds and 8 hops. A great contract for the expansion.

It's possible to argue the other player should have taken it, but without either bread nor whisky surely they would just have hurt themselves, assuming that one of the other 5 down could have been conpleted by the dominant player, just for more effort, probably would have led to a bad outcome anyways.

Thanks for all the comments here. It certainly seems that the first round in question was especially powerful, and at the very least an extremely good footing from which it would be tough to lose. (remembering also it was 2 glory for each worker in round 1...14 glory AND that economy?! Damn!)
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Jesse
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quietcorn wrote:
In the two player game I played we had a snowball where one player was the milkmaid and the losing player was the clan that builds next to rivers at a discount. It seems like there might be a few matchups in 2 player mode that don't align well in terms of power.

More data needed or course because it's hard to say anything is unbalanced because of so few plays, but my suspicion is that certain player powers do need the tension of at least a third player in order to be kept in check so to speak.


The delta clan would be especially powerful in a two player game, especially if the border unit round bonus wasn’t in play. The delta player would have pretty much free reign to snag (and keep snagging) most or all of the delta spaces saving tons of money.
 
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Ryan O
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atomheartmother wrote:
The delta clan would be especially powerful in a two player game, especially if the border unit round bonus wasn’t in play. The delta player would have pretty much free reign to snag (and keep snagging) most or all of the delta spaces saving tons of money.


Won't they need at least a shipping upgrade (or two) to take full advantage of the delta spaces? If so, that eats into their savings, though maybe not enough to wholly detract from a powerful opening...
 
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raddar2213 wrote:
atomheartmother wrote:
The delta clan would be especially powerful in a two player game, especially if the border unit round bonus wasn’t in play. The delta player would have pretty much free reign to snag (and keep snagging) most or all of the delta spaces saving tons of money.


Won't they need at least a shipping upgrade (or two) to take full advantage of the delta spaces? If so, that eats into their savings, though maybe not enough to wholly detract from a powerful opening...


They’d need several. I’d want to get to at least the three upgrade. But with that, you’ve got most of the map open to you. This means savings on spaces and more opportunities for neighborhood bonuses. They’re a lock for the settlement bonus, and they have a good shot at the contract bonus to, if they’re able to scoop up ones that are primarily meat.
 
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