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Subject: Question about length/tedium of operations (compared to say FCM) rss

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Jake Blomquist
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So, a ton of people whose opinions I trust really love this game, and I have to admit it looks pretty interesting. But I do have one or two niggling concerns that are giving me pause.

The main thing is the operations phase. My impression of the Splotter guys is that in a lot of cases they'd be better off making digital implementations of their games, there often seem to be these large chunks of the game taken up by menial token pushing and calculations that a computer could just do instantly. Imagine if you were playing Food Chain Magnate and all of the house payouts were done instantly, it would cut the duration of that game down quite a bit. And I've heard one of the biggest criticisms of Indonesia is that the operations phase can be really tedious. I'm trying to get a better feel for that. For some context this wasn't a dealbreaker in Food Chain Magnate, but I think if it were any longer it could have been. So a comparison of those two might be helpful.

I don't know what other games might be relevant in this comparison but I do keep my ratings and comments as up to date as possible on games that I've played. Most of my favorites are more in the traditional euro direction just because that's where my experience has been. I did get The Great Zimbabwe last year because that looked like the Splotter that would least benefit from a digital implementation, and I'm really glad I did. Even after just two plays that one's sitting not too far outside my top 10. That's partly why I want to keep trying Splotter games actually.

So what do you think, based on my preferences am I going to be bothered by the procedural stuff in Indonesia? (And I do understand the issues with asking in the Indonesia forums. On the one hand it's where the people who know the most are, but on the other most likely most people who see this will be big fans of the game and so potentially biased.) Thanks in advance for any help in this regard.
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Andrew Plassard
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So in my experience with Indonesia the operations portion of the game is more fiddly than in FCM for one simple reason - you have decisions. The meat of he important choices you'll make are still during the earlier phases of the game, but there certainly are some strategic choices to be made during the operations. Also, the operations are less linear than in FCM. During dinner time, you go one by one through the houses and whatever happens from a house happens. This isn't the same in Indonesia. You need to figure out how to use the shipping available, where to expand, and if you can predatorialy block off some locations. If you've ever played an 18xx game, this process is pretty analogous to trying to determine your optimal routes.

All of that being said, I love Indonesia. It is my favorite game of all time.
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Wilbert Kiemeneij
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The operations phase in Indonesia is a lot less procedural than the dinner time phase in Food Chain Magnate. It takes a little bit of work to make sure you can easily see what's happening on the board. But during this, you're actually making decisions, not just following procedures.

In my opinion it's more fiddly than Food Chain magnate is. It can take a bit of getting used to. For some people this is off-putting, but for me this isn't a problem at all.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Yes, you will find it tedious. Simple as that.

There are several issues at work here. One is that there are a lot of bits to move and keep track of; miscounting occurs regularly, even with all players looking on. Second is that players must transport what they can, and working out the local optimum given that constraint means that rollbacks aren't that infrequent as well. Near the end of the game you'll be spending 20 minutes per operations round esily... and it is actually the least interesting.

It helps if the players specialising in shipping put the brakes on the amount of transport capacity, as there is simply less to ship in that case. So far I've not seen that happening, but given that I don't play Indonesia all that often this doesn't say much.

There are ways to help in speeding things up using clever coin placement tricks: I advise you to look these up. But a certain amount of clutter and tedium will always remain irrespective of the method you deploy to handle it.
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Lucien Copus
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I would say the last couple of end game rounds are pretty fiddly to deal with when the comapanies get huge, if you're planning on playing 5p though you may only have 2 of these annoying late rounds. If you play 3p or 2p, half the game will be them.
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Jeff Huter
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Ogrecrusher wrote:
I would say the last couple of end game rounds are pretty fiddly to deal with when the comapanies get huge, if you're planning on playing 5p though you may only have 2 of these annoying late rounds. If you play 3p or 2p, half the game will be them.


This. Unlike most games where more players means for a longer/more difficult learning experience, Indonesia is actually best learned as a 5p game. With 5p, the game is likely to end in 5 rounds and only the fifth operational round will have a sizable amount of shipping. Other player counts will end up with multiple large operational rounds, which are time consuming and difficult for new players to handle correctly. Each company must ship all the goods it can. When there are a lot of goods, cities, and ships, this can be a non-trivial exercise. With 5p, the operational rounds never become too taxing.

P.S. Indonesia is playable at my website www.slothninja.com. Having the computer take care of the math, etc., does make the game flow better.
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Brent Celmins
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It's as tedious as you've heard... if you're unengaged. This typically happens with new players who go long shipping and just sit back and watch other players put nickels on their boats while they deal with their deliveries.

My first play of the game, I was incredibly turned off by the operations phase to the point that I didn't like the game. But I gave it another chance, and now after discovering some of the incredible nuances of the game it's one of my all-time favorites.

I wouldn't ever say that the ops phase is ever "fun," but it does become tolerable as you gain more experience.

In any case, the juice is worth the squeeze.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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SWxNW wrote:
My first play of the game, I was incredibly turned off by the operations phase to the point that I didn't like the game. But I gave it another chance, and now after discovering some of the incredible nuances of the game it's one of my all-time favorites.

This is really the crux of the matter. If you can pretend that these op rounds aren't the time hogs that they easily become, there's quite a bit of engaging game to uncover here. Managing the chaotic loops and whorls of player interaction (especially in how money makes the world go round), while at the same time dealing with the game's opacity in that it asks you evaluate the future worth of companies is extremely challenging. I'm not even sure whether or not Indonesia is too opaque in this regard. But you'll have a fun time finding out.

That said, I much more prefer the clean elegance of The Great Zimbabwe.
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Jake Blomquist
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Thanks all for the responses. One key thing I'm picking up is that the operations here might not be as annoying to me as the FCM stuff because it's not actually completely procedural? Not that it's going to be the most exciting part of the game, but it's something. Ok, this has been helpful and you've given me something to think about. I'm certainly more interested now. I appreciate it.
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Martins Livens
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That’s amaizing that I have to agree with all above mentioned opinions about Indonesia, even those that say The Great Zimbabwe is more elegant game, which from more Euro oriented gamer standpoint is true. But bear in mind that The Great Zimbabwe don’t bring that joy of grand strategy and board changing chaos that comes from R&D and mergers.

As for large shipping problems, take it easy - this is short coop for companies owner and most entusiastic player, or as an owner of the game maybe this job speaks directly to you.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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marliv wrote:
That’s amaizing that I have to agree with all above mentioned opinions about Indonesia, even those that say The Great Zimbabwe is more elegant game, which from more Euro oriented gamer standpoint is true.

You don't need any orientation: there is no fiddly math, no fiddly shipping, and game pieces are very static. Yet it delivers the same unmistakable Splotter punch of interactivity. That's objectively more elegant, even.

Quote:
But bear in mind that The Great Zimbabwe don’t bring that joy of grand strategy and board changing chaos that comes from R&D and mergers.

I respectfully disagree. Clearly you have yet to play a proper game of TGZ.
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Brent Celmins
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marliv wrote:
As for large shipping problems, take it easy - this is short coop for companies owner and most entusiastic player, or as an owner of the game maybe this job speaks directly to you.


Operations is definitely not short. 75% of the actual playtime is spent figuring out how to get good to cities.

I've played my share of games where at least one player has completely checked out because they're so bored by operations. Telling someone that the operations phase is a short co-op part of the game is a great way to make sure a new player never wants to play again.

This is a common complaint about the game for a reason. The people who love it see beyond that tedium.
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Brent Celmins
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cymric wrote:
You don't need any orientation: there is no fiddly math, no fiddly shipping, and game pieces are very static. Yet it delivers the same unmistakable Splotter punch of interactivity. That's objectively more elegant, even..


I have to agree with this. I don't have to hand out multiplication tables to players when playing TGZ.

Quote:
But bear in mind that The Great Zimbabwe don’t bring that joy of grand strategy and board changing chaos that comes from R&D and mergers.

Quote:
I respectfully disagree. Clearly you have yet to play a proper game of TGZ.



I'd say Indonesia is more tactical in nature because the game state changes so violently from turn to turn. It certainly can happen in TGZ (heaven knows I've had my share of well-placed secondary craftsmen gum up my gears), but in general TGZ requires a degree of more deliberate strategic planning.

If you're counting on a long-term plan to carry you though a game of Indonesia, you're going to have a bad time.

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Martins Livens
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cymric wrote:
marliv wrote:
That’s amaizing that I have to agree with all above mentioned opinions about Indonesia, even those that say The Great Zimbabwe is more elegant game, which from more Euro oriented gamer standpoint is true.

You don't need any orientation: there is no fiddly math, no fiddly shipping, and game pieces are very static. Yet it delivers the same unmistakable Splotter punch of interactivity. That's objectively more elegant, even.

Quote:
But bear in mind that The Great Zimbabwe don’t bring that joy of grand strategy and board changing chaos that comes from R&D and mergers.

I respectfully disagree. Clearly you have yet to play a proper game of TGZ.


No offense to TGZ.
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SWxNW wrote:
cymric wrote:
You don't need any orientation: there is no fiddly math, no fiddly shipping, and game pieces are very static. Yet it delivers the same unmistakable Splotter punch of interactivity. That's objectively more elegant, even..


I have to agree with this. I don't have to hand out multiplication tables to players when playing TGZ.

Quote:
But bear in mind that The Great Zimbabwe don’t bring that joy of grand strategy and board changing chaos that comes from R&D and mergers.

Quote:
I respectfully disagree. Clearly you have yet to play a proper game of TGZ.



I'd say Indonesia is more tactical in nature because the game state changes so violently from turn to turn. It certainly can happen in TGZ (heaven knows I've had my share of well-placed secondary craftsmen gum up my gears), but in general TGZ requires a degree of more deliberate strategic planning.

If you're counting on a long-term plan to carry you though a game of Indonesia, you're going to have a bad time.



I need to play my proper game of TGZ. It’s OK.
Though 75% operation phase and quitters. I don’t blame you, thats awfull.
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Wilbert Kiemeneij
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SWxNW wrote:
Operations is definitely not short. 75% of the actual playtime is spent figuring out how to get good to cities.

Maybe we're group thinking ourselves into playing sub-optimally or something (no-one I play with has a lot of experience with this game). But in my experience the operations phase doesn't take up nearly this much time. Maybe the last phases go over 50% a bit, but all in all I don't think our operations phases take up even half of the game time. I'd guesstimate it's closer to about 40% or something.
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