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Subject: Incentive for attacking the Vagabond? rss

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Brad Johnson
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I have only played 2 games so far, but the Vagabond seemed to run mostly unhindered in both games (with different sets of players, so essentially all novices.)

I warned people early in the 2nd game that the Vagabond had to be watched and cut back once in a while, or he'd run away with it. Still no one really took any meaningful action against the Vagabond until what turned out to be the last round of the game (with Alliance pulling off a nice come-from-behind "surprise" victory.)

It seems to me that part of the issue for our players was that there's no VP incentive for fighting the Vagabond. You can always try to fight the other factions to get a chance to remove their buildings & tokens for points, but you don't get any points for damaging Vagabond items. Assuming I have right?? So taking actions and losing warriors to keep the Vagabond down means you're diverting attention from getting points for yourself, which means the other 2 non-Vagabond factions can come out ahead.

Am I missing a rule or trick that affects this dynamic?
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Zachary Olson
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There isn’t a real incentive to attack the vagabond, which is probably the vagabonds greatest strength.
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Vivien JustJ

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was thinking on this earlier:

if you're allied, you could attack the vagabond to become hostile, so they can't score off you as easily by feeding you cards... but that seems to be it?
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This sounds exactly correct from the few games I've played. A significant strength of the Vagabond is how little incentive other players have to interact with it. Keeping the Vagabond under control ends up being a burden players have to share and negotiate about. I think the player whose turn is immediately before the Vagabond is usually going to get the short end of the stick in this respect; perhaps they would tend to be a good candidate for a coalition...
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Chris W
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If you think the vagabond is getting too strong or going to win, your incentive is to slow them down or stop them from winning. But you better be prepared to protect your stuff once you go hostile.
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In our game last night, I was playing as the Cats. The Vagabond aided me a couple times on his first turn, and gave me a bird card.

I rewarded him by attacking him on my second turn, using the bird card as as an additional action to do the battle.

in my opinion, the best faction and time to cripple the vagabond with just one action is the cats. Hit them once and hope they kill your warrior. This will make you hostile and, since you're the cats and it's only turn 2, you have pieces all across the board. This makes it incredibly difficult for the vagabond to move, since the whole board is hostile and he needs 2 boots to get anywhere. He doesn't have many items, so this effectively kneecaps him and lets the Cats deal with their main foe, the Alliance.

Destroying a threat with just one action this way seems very effective to me. And since the cats are kind of the police faction, this puts the vagabond out of the running quickly and easily.
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Nathan Sharpe
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Oh my gosh walterbarrett that's brutal! devil
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Ethan Furman
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walterbarrett wrote:
In our game last night, I was playing as the Cats. The Vagabond aided me a couple times on his first turn, and gave me a bird card.

I rewarded him by attacking him on my second turn, using the bird card as as an additional action to do the battle.

in my opinion, the best faction and time to cripple the vagabond with just one action is the cats. Hit them once and hope they kill your warrior. This will make you hostile and, since you're the cats and it's only turn 2, you have pieces all across the board. This makes it incredibly difficult for the vagabond to move, since the whole board is hostile and he needs 2 boots to get anywhere. He doesn't have many items, so this effectively kneecaps him and lets the Cats deal with their main foe, the Alliance.

The Vagabond has a free move at the beginning of every turn, even into hostile clearings. By turning him hostile, you have painted a big target on yourself, since your warriors are now worth 1 VP and your buildings worth 2.

Scoundrel - comes with crossbow: no VP for using it, but revenge is sweet!
Arbiter - comes with two swords
Ranger - comes with crossbow and sword
Thief - comes with sword
Vagrant - can start battles between you and another player
Tinker - can retrieve cards from the discard pile and craft them

So five of the six are immediately capable of wreaking havoc with your lone warriors and your buildings, with the last able to build up to it fairly quickly.
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stoneleaf wrote:
walterbarrett wrote:
In our game last night, I was playing as the Cats. The Vagabond aided me a couple times on his first turn, and gave me a bird card.

I rewarded him by attacking him on my second turn, using the bird card as as an additional action to do the battle.

in my opinion, the best faction and time to cripple the vagabond with just one action is the cats. Hit them once and hope they kill your warrior. This will make you hostile and, since you're the cats and it's only turn 2, you have pieces all across the board. This makes it incredibly difficult for the vagabond to move, since the whole board is hostile and he needs 2 boots to get anywhere. He doesn't have many items, so this effectively kneecaps him and lets the Cats deal with their main foe, the Alliance.

The Vagabond has a free move at the beginning of every turn, even into hostile clearings. By turning him hostile, you have painted a big target on yourself, since your warriors are now worth 1 VP and your buildings worth 2.

Scoundrel - comes with crossbow: no VP for using it, but revenge is sweet!
Arbiter - comes with two swords
Ranger - comes with crossbow and sword
Thief - comes with sword
Vagrant - can start battles between you and another player
Tinker - can retrieve cards from the discard pile and craft them

So five of the six are immediately capable of wreaking havoc with your lone warriors and your buildings, with the last able to build up to it fairly quickly.


True, but in practice, at least in our game, the Vagabond used his slip to move towards the few territories that I was not in so that he could explore and aid. I'm not sure why the player didn't attempt to attack me,but it probably had to do with the fact that he only had his starting items and attacking me came with the risk of damaging those items, which would have made his early game situation even worse.
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Eric
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I would think that a Vagabond that spends its early actions on moving into hostile clearings and attacking warriors for 1 VP, instead of exploring and aiding for items, would very likely lose.
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Anon Y. Mous
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The Vagabond is hurt a lot more from being attacked than any other faction. Especially in the early game, one decent swing at him will force him to retreat and spend an entire turn recovering. If you got points for doing this too, he wouldn't be able to do anything.
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Brad Johnson
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Ethereality wrote:
The Vagabond is hurt a lot more from being attacked than any other faction. Especially in the early game, one decent swing at him will force him to retreat and spend an entire turn recovering. If you got points for doing this too, he wouldn't be able to do anything.

Yes, this is the key, I think, but I think the players sort of need to share this responsibility, or it breaks down. Since the Alliance probably can't really attack the Vagabond until probably mid-game (and maybe not really ever, depending on where the Vagabond goes), I think the key is the Eyrie has to be convinced to spend a battle now and again against the Vagabond instead of always pummeling the Cats.
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Trey Chambers
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McChew wrote:
If you think the vagabond is getting too strong or going to win, your incentive is to slow them down or stop them from winning. But you better be prepared to protect your stuff once you go hostile.


The problem with this rational is: I take time out of my own victory plan to stop the Vagabond, both me and the Vagabond are slowed down, any additional players are benefited by me doing that.

Example:

Player A attacks player B for no benefit. Player A lost an action that could have been used scoring points. Player B (Vagabond) is slowed down because they got attacked.

Player C and player D are both happy and unaffected by this exchange.

For this reason, I think some benefit should have been added to attacking the Vagabond.
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Anon Y. Mous
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Shampoo4you wrote:
McChew wrote:
If you think the vagabond is getting too strong or going to win, your incentive is to slow them down or stop them from winning. But you better be prepared to protect your stuff once you go hostile.


The problem with this rational is: I take time out of my own victory plan to stop the Vagabond, both me and the Vagabond are slowed down, any additional players are benefited by me doing that.

Example:

Player A attacks player B for no benefit. Player A lost an action that could have been used scoring points. Player B (Vagabond) is slowed down because they got attacked.

Player C and player D are both happy and unaffected by this exchange.

For this reason, I think some benefit should have been added to attacking the Vagabond.


I'm sure a benefit for attacking the Vagabond was tested, and the very obvious problems that result from doing that is the reason it wasn't kept in the final game.
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Joshua Yearsley
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The Vagabond is a quintessential "prisoner's dilemma" problem (though with lots of wrinkles in the formula).

If the other factions all help the Vagabond, they'll each be rewarded, but the Vagabond will gain much more than any other faction individually. [This is the "mutual defection" position in the prisoner's dilemma.]

If the other factions all hurt the Vagabond, they'll basically maintain their positions relative to each other, and the Vagabond will be hurt badly. [This is the "mutual cooperation" position in the prisoner's dilemma.]

If some but not all factions help the Vagabond, those who help the Vagabond will each be rewarded, improving their position relative to the factions who didn't help the Vagabond, and the Vagabond will gain less than he would if all factions helped him. [This is the "non-mutual defection" position in the prisoner's dilemma.]

To quote Wikipedia:

Quote:
The dilemma, then, is that mutual cooperation yields a better outcome than mutual defection but is not the rational outcome because the choice to cooperate, from a self-interested perspective, is irrational.


Adding an incentive to hurt the Vagabond would break down the prisoner's dilemma, and attacking the Vagabond [the "mutual cooperation" option] would become much more of a no-brainer move.
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Trey Chambers
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Caedar wrote:
The Vagabond is a quintessential "prisoner's dilemma" problem (though with lots of wrinkles in the formula).

If the other factions all help the Vagabond, they'll each be rewarded, but the Vagabond will gain much more than any other faction individually. [This is the "mutual defection" position in the prisoner's dilemma.]

If the other factions all hurt the Vagabond, they'll basically maintain their positions relative to each other, and the Vagabond will be hurt badly. [This is the "mutual cooperation" position in the prisoner's dilemma.]

If some but not all factions help the Vagabond, those who help the Vagabond will each be rewarded, improving their position relative to the factions who didn't help the Vagabond, and the Vagabond will gain less than he would if all factions helped him. [This is the "non-mutual defection" position in the prisoner's dilemma.]

To quote Wikipedia:

Quote:
The dilemma, then, is that mutual cooperation yields a better outcome than mutual defection but is not the rational outcome because the choice to cooperate, from a self-interested perspective, is irrational.


Adding an incentive to hurt the Vagabond would break down the prisoner's dilemma, and attacking the Vagabond [the "mutual cooperation" option] would become much more of a no-brainer move.


The current method is another dilemma of sorts. One person has to hurt themselves to keep the Vagabond in check or the Vagabond will win.

I would say, if you are behind, just ask the person in first place attack the Vagabond, but what if they refuse? They lose the game, but so do you. If you're behind and pick up their slack and attack the Vagabond, you'll just lose even worse.

So therefore, if the person ahead doesn't keep the Vagabond in check, the Vagabond wins. If the players behind keep the Vagabond in check, the person ahead probably wins. Either way, the Vagabond's inclusion in the scenario basically means if you're not in 1st or the Vagabond when it reaches the end game, your chances of winning are basically zero unless the person ahead agrees to take the bullet.

What bothers me about that is that your chance of winning is then dependent on a singular opponent's actions, not your own. The counterargument is in this kind of game, your chances of winning are always dependent on the actions of other players. And that's true. But it's rarely as stark as it is in this case.
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Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist
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There’s nothing specific to that argument about the vagabond. In any game with direct attacks, the person in second is the one with the biggest incentive to attack first with the specific intent of slowing them down. Anybody else doing it is just playing kingmaker, and they're personally incentivized to advance their own position as much as possible instead, in the hopes of catching up while the top two duke it out.
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Trey Chambers
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Santiago wrote:
There’s nothing specific to that argument about the vagabond. In any game with direct attacks, the person in second is the one with the biggest incentive to attack first with the specific intent of slowing them down. Anybody else doing it is just playing kingmaker, and they're personally incentivized to advance their own position as much as possible instead, in the hopes of catching up while the top two duke it out.


This argument has a glaring omission. If I attack someone other than the Vagabond, I can score VP.

So usually, if I am not in 2nd I *still* have incentive to attack the leader, unless that leader is the Vagabond.
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Mark Watson
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Shampoo4you wrote:

This argument has a glaring omission. If I attack someone other than the Vagabond, I can score VP.

In our games we've generally found if you don't attack the Vagabond you won't get the opportunity to attack someone else and score points - the Vagabond will simply waltz in and use those troops to do precisely that first

I'm not sure the points are key here though (admittedly, I haven't played or seen all factions played). If I destroy a sawmill I get one point, but the cat will gain at least two by rebuilding it next turn (and by destroying it I've just reduced the cost for them to do so). I gain a point by removing a roost, but the Eyrie won't lose anything if they rebuild it before the end of their turn (in fact in some cases I may be preventing them losing points due to turmoil) and again that's going to net them a minimum of two points. I get the sense that every faction has an engine that'll eventually tick over to 30 usually a lot faster than you can achieve through combat - combat is therefore more about how much you can slow everyone else's engine down than boosting your own as such.
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patrick mullen
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Archonsod wrote:
Shampoo4you wrote:

This argument has a glaring omission. If I attack someone other than the Vagabond, I can score VP.

In our games we've generally found if you don't attack the Vagabond you won't get the opportunity to attack someone else and score points - the Vagabond will simply waltz in and use those troops to do precisely that first

I'm not sure the points are key here though (admittedly, I haven't played or seen all factions played). If I destroy a sawmill I get one point, but the cat will gain at least two by rebuilding it next turn (and by destroying it I've just reduced the cost for them to do so). I gain a point by removing a roost, but the Eyrie won't lose anything if they rebuild it before the end of their turn (in fact in some cases I may be preventing them losing points due to turmoil) and again that's going to net them a minimum of two points. I get the sense that every faction has an engine that'll eventually tick over to 30 usually a lot faster than you can achieve through combat - combat is therefore more about how much you can slow everyone else's engine down than boosting your own as such.


That's a good point... about the points. You only get points for destroying cardboard, so are only incentivized (by points) toward fights in which you have a chance of destroying cardboard. Most of my fights have been motivated to gain ground for myself, or push someone back, rather than the point or 2 I might have a chance of getting occasionally.

I haven't gone through all of the design blog yet; but I kind of wonder why the points for destroying cardboard need to be there at all. It is a rule we have forgotten quite a few times.
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Mark Watson
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saluk wrote:

That's a good point... about the points. You only get points for destroying cardboard, so are only incentivized (by points) toward fights in which you have a chance of destroying cardboard.

If the Vagabond is hostile they can get points for removing warriors. I think there's also some incentive introduced via the move mechanics since gaining rule (or removing it from your opponent) is a good way of locking them down.
Quote:

I haven't gone through all of the design blog yet; but I kind of wonder why the points for destroying cardboard need to be there at all. It is a rule we have forgotten quite a few times.

To encourage players to interact rather than sit and turtle I guess. It's an easy way to balance it across the factions - in all cases tokens tend to represent an investment by that faction towards victory of roughly equal worth. If you were to try doing it via Warriors instead you'd start getting balance issues across different factions.
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Jack McNamee
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The other side of this: If you're a hostile faction, you need to consider that the vagabond will actually GAIN points if you attack them (By removing your warriors with defensive hits). You won't gain any points, you'll waste actions, and you'll likely lose warriors. Meanwhile, the vagabond has used no actions, and gained points. It's not an easy pill to swallow.

We played against the Ranger vagabond last night (who can repair equipment easier) and it was tough! He could tank a lot of hits, even with both of us against him.
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Will G
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I tried very hard to like this game, but there is nothing more frustrating than when the Vagaband makes you his prime target, when playin the cats. The game is flawed in this case, that is that the vagaband can easily get to your armies and buildings and just feed off you with tons of victory points, and there is no counter play to it. And no incentive to fight back, If you retaliate for example your score will plummet as others grow, including the Vagabonds VP. Also if you try to maneuver and avoid the vagabond, he can easily catch up to you each turn. Other than this extremely frustrating design flaw I would of rated it higher.
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Andre Oliveira
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Ironmanowar wrote:
. Other than this extremely frustrating design flaw I would of rated it higher.

Ther vagabond is also responsible for king making. If he attacks you while you aren't the first, he's helping whoever he isn't attacking.
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Andrew B
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Ironmanowar wrote:
If you retaliate for example your score will plummet as others grow...


I hope you realize the Eyrie is the only faction whose score can decrease. I presume you're speaking in relative terms, but just want to be sure.

One thing you can try is voting out certain Vagabond roles before play. I tend to try to avoid games with an experienced player controlling the Tinker for example. Other Vagabonds may be less problematic. (I should point out haven't played with the updated rules for the Vagabond. That may also change things.)
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