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Subject: The Worst-Case Battle rss

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R. Eric Reuss
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A comment on another site got me wondering: for those of you who win at high difficulties, what's the highest difficulty at which you think you could reliably win assuming another knowledgable player who was trying to make you lose controlled all random factors? (Power draws, Invader draws, Fear draws, and Blight card - basically, simulating "perfectly worst luck"?)

What about if they also controlled all setup - selected your Spirit(s), your board(s), and your Adversary?

(Base game only; the potential for situationally-targeted malice rises dramatically with the Event deck, and the larger Power decks doubles the # of bad-for-you-and-the-situation Power Cards to draw.)
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Brian Blankstein
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This is begging to be a pbf game (or several).
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Jonathan Zev
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Does the opponent order the draws ahead of time, or can they choose the worst card at time of reveal?
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Jeremy Lennert
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Are we envisioning a realistic adversary, or a true worst-case? A real human being is probably going to have a hard time choosing the true absolute worst four minor power cards to draw for you.

If we're trying to simulate a true "perfect play" scenario, where the player makes no mistakes and the adversary chooses the true worst-case for all random events...

...then I have approximately zero faith in any answer that isn't backed by a rigorous mathematical analysis, because that is a very hard question.

However, for some spirits, a rigorous analysis not be out of the question. There aren't that many possible invader cards and blight cards, and worst-case fear draws can probably be approximated as blanks, so if you choose a spirit that doesn't rely much on gaining powers, you may be able to "math out" a guaranteed win at a reasonably high difficulty level (or come close enough to be convincing).

(Unfortunately, you also probably have to approximate the power card draws as blanks in order to keep the math tractable, but that's really pretty harsh. Even a true worst-case power draw is probably noticeably better than blank cards.)
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RyuSora
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You mean there is a person control the AI of the game, but with perfect information?! hahahaha that would be fun! Make that an official variant.

Its basically one player throwing a puzzle to the spirit player and saying "DO IT!".

Side note: Stronghold 2nd edition is basically that.
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R. Eric Reuss
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Arcanist Lupus wrote:
Does the opponent order the draws ahead of time, or can they choose the worst card at time of reveal?

Worst card at time of reveal! So they can react to your board situation, your prior Power Card picks, etc. (Again, roughly simulating The Worst Luck Possible.)

This is one reason why including Events would be so punishing; they can choose choice Events based on the elements you don't have any of on cards, Ravage-boosting based on board situation + your exact Defend levels, etc. Well, up until the Blight card flips, at which point you'll probably get slammed with a Blighted Island event every turn.

Antistone wrote:
Are we envisioning a realistic adversary, or a true worst-case?

We're envisioning within some epsilon of a true worst-case... but the question I'm asking isn't "What is the *correct* answer to 'what difficulty could you reliably win at'?". I'm asking "what do you *think* is the answer to 'what difficulty could you reliably win at'?"

I.e., I'm polling for best-guesses. :-)

Quote:
A real human being is probably going to have a hard time choosing the true absolute worst four minor power cards to draw for you.

Granted, true. But I'd guess that outside of the occasional slip that a skilled player could do a pretty good job? Especially given the limited Power Card selection in base-game only.
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R. Eric Reuss
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grysqrl wrote:
This is begging to be a pbf game (or several).

If I had more free time right now, I'd totally play that. (In either role.)

If you do set one up, I'll see if I can stick my head in from time to time and offer "helpful" thoughts for whomever's playing Challenges Spirits With Perfect Adversity. devil
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Jeremy Lennert
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darker wrote:
Quote:
A real human being is probably going to have a hard time choosing the true absolute worst four minor power cards to draw for you.

Granted, true. But I'd guess that outside of the occasional slip that a skilled player could do a pretty good job? Especially given the limited Power Card selection in base-game only.

I think they would mostly avoid giving you obviously-good stuff; I just don't think they would do a good job of separating the bad from the truly awful.

So you'll end up with a card that has none of your elements and fails to combo with any of your starting powers, but it will be one that is marginally worth playing, rather than one that is so situationally-inappropriate that you'll be forced to reclaim powers one turn earlier than normal.
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R. Eric Reuss
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darker wrote:
If you do set one up, I'll see if I can stick my head in from time to time and offer "helpful" thoughts for whomever's playing Challenges Spirits With Perfect Adversity. devil

(...though now that I consider it, there's no specific need for there to be a dedicated person to play the Challenge - it could be the player-group themselves who come up with "what would just be worst here?" Might even be more effective, since you wouldn't end up with 'Challenge-player misses a key use that a Spirit player then spots'.)
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Dylan Thurston
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It's really tough for me to know. Those are pretty harsh conditions! If it were a solo game, I expect I would always lose against Difficulty 8 adversaries, and I expect I would always win against Difficulty 3 adversaries. That leaves a pretty wide range.
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Jeremy Lennert
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I did some testing and discovered that your invader card draws have a larger impact on difficulty than I had previously realized.

I also learned a new bit of trivia: board A is the only (balanced) board where Brandenburg-Prussia's extra starting town goes on the same terrain type as the regular starting town, making it possible for them to build 2 new cities on turn 1 (without being max level).
 
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Dylan Thurston
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Antistone wrote:
I did some testing and discovered that your invader card draws have a larger impact on difficulty than I had previously realized.
Yup, that matters. At Brandenburg-Prussia Level 2, the Invader cards probably go something like

XXX - Jungle - Sands - Jungle+Sands - Sands* - Jungle*

That comes up occasionally in real games, and is pretty painful.
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Scott Yost
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Now I super want to see Dylan PBF playing spirits of our choice with draws of our choice against an difficulty 3 adversary of our choice.

and then I want to see Twitch plays Spirit Island.
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Dylan Thurston
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Yostage wrote:
Now I super want to see Dylan PBF playing spirits of our choice with draws of our choice against an difficulty 3 adversary of our choice.
Hmm, a solo Spirit game like that might be bad, with Ocean's Hungry Grasp so reliant on getting some powers with range. Otherwise, I'm down!
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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Actually, I think in most cases it's easier if you draw the exact same terrain twice in a row, because if you counter-attack the first ravage (or nuke it between the first build and first ravage), you can probably take out the explorer from the second explore "for free", and then ignore the rest of the second card.

Even if you end up with a lone explorer after dealing with the first chain, the first ravage will cause him to do 1 damage before he gets a chance to build, so if you have 1 Dahan in the land he'll die without you spending any powers at all. (Which also means getting the same terrain a third time in a row is usually still good, even though the third explorer will definitely miss whatever you did to the first one.)

It can be bad if you had no way to stop the first one, and so now you need something even bigger to stop the second one or else you get a cascade. But that's something the adversary would need to judge on the fly based on the board position at the time--taking into account that the spirits may have time to change their plans when they see the repeat terrain come up to try to take advantage of the situation.

When I tried to choose the worst possible draws for myself, I ended up avoiding repeats until late in the game:

Wetlands - Sands+Mountains - Jungle* - Coastal - Wetlands* - Wetlands+Jungle
and a loss in 2 more turns looked inevitable
(This was Thunderspeaker vs Brandenburg-Prussia Level 5 on board B; the adversary is working hard to avoid a case where Manifestation of Power and Glory solves two chains in the same land with a single play.)
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Scott Yost
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I think probably any two arbitrary spirits would be more fun than a solo one. I agree that it'd be too easy to shut ocean out.
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R. Eric Reuss
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Re: repeated-terrain dynamics, you're both right - it's a double-down. They're a great opportunity if you can handle that land type, but whatever you let slip through really sucks.

(For a long time, instead of "Coastal Lands", the unusual Stage II card was "Repeat Previous Terrain".)
 
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