Ian N
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My wife and I have finished Season 2, and enjoyed it. But one thing that I felt didn't work well, as a mechanism, was Rationing. I wondered what other people's experiences were, and how you felt?

My big problem was simple; the mechanism felt increasingly "broken" and irrelevant as the year progressed.

In Season 1, the same mechanism very clearly and directly addressed the problem of tuning game difficulty to player abilities. If you were struggling, you'd get extra Event cards to add to the deck, almost all of which you'd see at some point during the game - and they'd usually make at least some difference. Very clever; I liked it a lot.

In Season 2, though? As we reconned deeper into the board, and more cities joined the Grid, the Player deck positively ballooned - and the cards we drew each game grew more random. In the back half of the year, I doubt that we ever got much more than a third of the way through the deck before the game ended. Two event cards here or there were unlikely to have remotely as much effect as in Season 1, where we'd normally come close to exhausting the deck. And after a shaky March, we'd been winning most games, so our Rationing quickly dropped to 0 - so when we actually lost one, and were awarded a whole 2 Event Cards of our choice to add to the deck, my immediate reaction was... ...muted. If we only ran through about a third of the deck, as usual, there was nearly a 50% chance that we'd never even see either of them. As for potentially useful Event cards awarded near the end of the game - sure, we could choose to add them, if we had the Rationing, but we'd quite likely never get to use them. I mean - yes, it's nice to know that they might be in there somewhere - but it increasingly felt like something largely irrelevant and tacked on. And as a mechanism for tuning game difficulty, it was about as much use at that point as a chocolate fire guard.

All of which raised the question - why repeat the mechanism? Other than because it worked in Season 1? I felt quite strongly that it needed a tweak - maybe boost the +/- numbers later in the game. Or boost the minimum number as the year progressed. Or even link it somehow to the number of epidemics seen in the previous game as well as the result. Anything to bring it back into play as a balance mechanism. Or if that wasn't needed - drop it, and drip-feed us more Unrationed Events.

(That's not to say that we didn't have some lucky draws, or moments when we we able to exploit what cards we saw. We did and were. But it didn't honestly feel like a significant part of the game.)
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michael ray
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We were able to use them once or twice early on, but that was pretty much our experience as well.

The worst card was the 're-use another rationed event' card...totally useless when you only have 2, and who knows when/if either will show up.
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Lorry Moller
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If you were aggressive about
Spoiler (click to reveal)
putting cards in box 6
then maybe your deck would be thinned enough to make a difference.

From my perspective though, I'd almost always rather have a coloured card to help collect sets for recon-ing and cures than have a rationed card.
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Michael Nerman
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LorryMoller wrote:
If you were aggressive about
Spoiler (click to reveal)
putting cards in box 6
then maybe your deck would be thinned enough to make a difference.

From my perspective though, I'd almost always rather have a coloured card to help collect sets for recon-ing and cures than have a rationed card.

Really? The rationed cards were always significant when we did draw them. Some of the unrationed cards are pretty junky, though. And every non-city card gives you more turns between epidemics, since they aren't counted for "stretched too thin".

I was noticing this problem too, but was hoping
Spoiler (click to reveal)
putting 30 cards in box 6
would help. We're only in May or something.
 
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michael ray
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nerman8r wrote:
LorryMoller wrote:
If you were aggressive about
Spoiler (click to reveal)
putting cards in box 6
then maybe your deck would be thinned enough to make a difference.

From my perspective though, I'd almost always rather have a coloured card to help collect sets for recon-ing and cures than have a rationed card.

Really? The rationed cards were always significant when we did draw them. Some of the unrationed cards are pretty junky, though. And every non-city card gives you more turns between epidemics, since they aren't counted for "stretched too thin".

I was noticing this problem too, but was hoping
Spoiler (click to reveal)
putting 30 cards in box 6
would help. We're only in May or something.


Every non-city card does spread out epidemics, but also extends the game, because you win or lose by city cards, generally speaking.

There were some months, were in our initial few turns, we ended up drawing mostly produces/unrationed events. Having 1-2 of them is great, having 5-6 is useless and hurts.
 
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Michael Nerman
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squegeeboo wrote:
Every non-city card does spread out epidemics, but also extends the game, because you win or lose by city cards, generally speaking.

There were some months, were in our initial few turns, we ended up drawing mostly produces/unrationed events. Having 1-2 of them is great, having 5-6 is useless and hurts.

But extending the game is not necessarily a bad thing. A particularly apt example is One Quiet Night. This card gives you half an extra turn before the next epidemic, and gives you a turn where there are no infections added, so you essentially get a whole turn of actions where nothing bad happens. Even if you haven't drawn the city card you need, you can use those actions to produce and deliver supplies and do other helpful things to help meet objectives that aren't city-card-related.

I agree with you that drawing two not-helpful unrationed events is somewhat bad because you have to deal with infections on that turn without getting nearer to winning the game, but rationed event cards are powerful, and definitely worth drawing.
 
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Ian N
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LorryMoller wrote:
If you were aggressive about
Spoiler (click to reveal)
putting cards in box 6
then maybe your deck would be thinned enough to make a difference.

True to a point - but then that's dependent on the individual players. If Rationing was supposed to balance things, it's not much use if it only works when players play an optimal way. And this isn't exactly a game where one goes back and does it differently "the next time". Plus, the groups that are most likely to need a mechanism like Rationing are precisely the groups least likely to be playing "optimally".
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Michael Nerman
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fredd13 wrote:
True to a point - but then that's dependent on the individual players. If Rationing was supposed to balance things, it's not much use if it only works when players play an optimal way. And this isn't exactly a game where one goes back and does it differently "the next time". Plus, the groups that are most likely to need a mechanism like Rationing are precisely the groups least likely to be playing "optimally".

You raise some good points. The inadequacy of rationing also seems like it would only add to the swinginess of season 2, since the catch-up mechanic isn't as effective as in season 1.
 
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Matthew McGeehin
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We won every game, so rationing was useless after February.

I will say, however
Spoiler (click to reveal)
We were pretty judicious about our Unrationed Events. We used most, if not all, of them.
 
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Ian N
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Matt620 wrote:
We won every game, so rationing was useless after February.

I will say, however
Spoiler (click to reveal)
We were pretty judicious about our Unrationed Events. We used most, if not all, of them.

Spoiler (click to reveal)

We mostly went with "save it for when we really need it"; three were a couple we might, in hindsight, have profitably used earlier, but mostly that worked fine. Around November we switched to something more along the lines of "use it if you've got it". A quick check shows that we had only two left in the deck at the end (one of which was from package 8).
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thespaceinvader -
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We felt much like we did in the first season - the rationing basically never came up. We only lost 3 months in 2, and 4 months in 1, and none of them sequentially, so we more or less never had rationed events available, especially given that there was a distinct pressure to finish QUICKLY this season (probably more than last season, because the Hollow Men are much harder to control and have much more direct impact on the board state than Fades did), so even when they were there, they didn't spend much time in hand.

The first two losses we took were March and April, then the final one was November - and we finished late NOvember in about round 3, because we had 2 very easy goals to get.

So yeah, mostly we felt that the rationing was mostly irrelevant, even with fairly heavy box-6-ing.

But we also were VERY judicious in our ticking of produce cards, and I don't think actually tore up any at all; the onyl player cards we removed were the box six ones and the unrationed events.

Mostly it felt like the difficulty curve was down to how eartly you progressed into the tougher parts of the game, especially the Cairo recon.
 
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