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Subject: I wanted to like this game but the choke points "kill" the game for me rss

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El Bastardo
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I am talking about "Pont Leveque" and the "Grocer".

I just played the game four times in a row and lost all of them.

If there are two soldiers at those two points and you do not have a second save house (and even if you have one) instant game over.

I just "rage quit"/lost on turn !one! because I got two milice at those two locations and instant lost.


I am not overreacting and I can really see that this is a good game but this part is not good game design for me.

The fact that an instant "one turn kill" exists paired with the fact that it is quite likely to reach that state with multiple different combinations is too much.


Getting that on turn 11 (playing on very easy) and right after that next game turn one...


Sorry I stop playing now and bury the idea of backing the game.
I really wanted to like it though.
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Gretchen Fontenay
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Maybe house rule it for yourself that there can never be two Malice at either of those points?
 
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A I
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I "sacrifice" one of my resistance fighters and sent them to the grocers (which will give me a benefit of food anyway) when it's crucial to keep that crossing open. And if the grocers is not an option, I'll just sent them to loiter on point Leveque. You should always be able to get your hands on one of the 2 spots.
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Robert Konigsberg
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El Bastardo wrote:
I am talking about "Pont Leveque" and the "Grocer".

I just played the game four times in a row and lost all of them.

If there are two soldiers at those two points and you do not have a second save house (and even if you have one) instant game over.

I just "rage quit"/lost on turn !one! because I got two milice at those two locations and instant lost.


I am not overreacting and I can really see that this is a good game but this part is not good game design for me.

The fact that an instant "one turn kill" exists paired with the fact that it is quite likely to reach that state with multiple different combinations is too much.


Getting that on turn 11 (playing on very easy) and right after that next game turn one...


Sorry I stop playing now and bury the idea of backing the game.
I really wanted to like it though.


Maybe this will help:

One of my first goals is almost always to build a safe house to avoid that specific problem. This means one of my early goals I must always place someone at the Grocer or Pont Leveque to reduce the risk of an arrest.
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El Bastardo
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As a counter point to both of those valid strategies:

Yes I can see that and even thought about that myself BUT if every game starts with me basically being forced to build a save house as fast as possible it restricts my own strategy.

I want to be able to play the game the way I want to play it and not go "through the same old motions" every game and basically do this as a "glorified setup".

"All right rush to get money to get a save house. Stay alive by blocking on of the choke points every round. Oh yay it's round five and I have a save house and all of my people are still alive. I can finally start to play the actual game now".


Yes I am exaggerating to state my points.
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Yani
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El Bastardo wrote:
As a counter point to both of those valid strategies:

Yes I can see that and even thought about that myself BUT if every game starts with me basically being forced to build a save house as fast as possible it restricts my own strategy.

I want to be able to play the game the way I want to play it and not go "through the same old motions" every game and basically do this as a "glorified setup".

"All right rush to get money to get a save house. Stay alive by blocking on of the choke points every round. Oh yay it's round five and I have a save house and all of my people are still alive. I can finally start to play the actual game now".


Yes I am exaggerating to state my points.


Having played it a long time ago I do not remember having big issues with the "choke points". Perhaps the game is not for you.
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Nick Herman
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As has been said before, you can "block" either Pont Leveque or The Grocer with your first worker and try to create a safe return path from whereever you are planing to go with your other workers. That way, if a patrol card shows that place, the milice unit will go elsewhere and doesn't choke you. You will collect less resources, but you will keep your workers much safer. If you build a Safe House, it opens up more return path options, but you don't really need one. I've played Maquis a lot of times and most often I didn't build a Safe House - it's just an option.

I guess this is the first thing a new player of Maquis has to learn (happened to me, too): It is more important to create return paths to keep your workers safe, than to collect the best/most resources. It also does help to get a gun early, so you can take some more risks. And what does help a lot, too, is to keep track of which patrol cards are still left in the deck and what they do. That way you can evaluate beforehand where you're taking a higher or lower risk and often you can even identify safe placements.

It's the core of the game that you have to try to keep your workers safe in addition to collect resources to fulfill your missions. Without that dilemma it would just be a "standard" worker placement game.
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Robert Konigsberg
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El Bastardo wrote:
Yes I am exaggerating to state my points.


This does not sound like the game for you.
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JK
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The essential strategy of the game is to create a chain of workers to ensure they can all get home. As you found out, the game won't work if you don't do that. It's the core of your strategy. You'll sometimes need to push your luck by leaving a gap in the chain and hoping the enemy don't go there, and that's where keeping track of the patrol cards can really help.

But the choke points are an essential part of the game design and everything has been balanced with that in mind.

Also, be aware this is a *hard* game. You will hardly ever win. But when you lose you'll almost always know what you should have done differently, better, to win next time.

I suggest you try again. Once you get the idea of chaining your workers the game is a tense series of agonising strategic decisions.

PS I've never built a second safe house.
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They call me Mister...
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I never build a safe house, too much time/resources. You always need a safe route home but then you need to push your luck to achieve objectives and then you may need to recruit more Maquis and then you may need a weapon and then...etc. This is the game. Get in the game.

You won't win a war with that attitude.
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Yani
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To reiterate what has been said, card count the patrols to find out the best times to take risks, otherwise keep your maquis safe.
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Robert Konigsberg
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This is great to know. But on mobile you don't know which patrol cards were actually played. Which is too bad.
 
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Jake Staines
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As others have said, the choke points and how to deal with them pretty much are the game. I would describe Maquis as a blend of puzzle and calculated risk - your job as a player is to know when you can afford to use all of your Maquisards for actions, and when you have to use one or two just to keep routes open for the others. This won't be for everyone, and if you want to play a tight efficiency-driven worker-placement game in the mould of something like Agricola, then Maquis might just not be to your taste.



Strategy talk: a second safe house is a 'safety' choice for the player. It makes a few of your later actions more reliably safe, but it costs a lot in terms of up-front investment (both resources and time) and it really only secures your agents when they're on a couple of nearby spaces, so it's really a trade-off that you have to decide whether or not it's worth taking and think about where to put. There's some mission combinations that I would generally try and get a second safe house out for, and others I definitely wouldn't because it takes too long. For example: if you run for a safe house straight out of the gate you'll probably find the Destroy the Train mission pretty tight on time. If you have the Bomb for the Officer mission then taking a Safe House means that you've restricted your choice of position for the Chemist's Lab to one spot.



rkonigsberg wrote:
This is great to know. But on mobile you don't know which patrol cards were actually played. Which is too bad.


Off the top of my head, I believe that you can tap the patrol card in the top-right to see which patrol cards are still in the deck. Just be aware that the order they display in is not necessarily related to the order that they'll come out!
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Robert Konigsberg
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Bichatse wrote:

rkonigsberg wrote:
This is great to know. But on mobile you don't know which patrol cards were actually played. Which is too bad.


Off the top of my head, I believe that you can tap the patrol card in the top-right to see which patrol cards are still in the deck. Just be aware that the order they display in is not necessarily related to the order that they'll come out!


Ooooh. Thank you for teaching me how to play. I look forward to playing at the next level.
 
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El Bastardo
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First I want to say that I am impressed with the number of quality responses I got.
Shows how much gaming passion and respect is around here.

With regards to content my opinion sadly could not be changed.
As I said before the fact that OTKs (one turn kill) are around and likely to happen does kill the game for me.
And since no one talked about that part of my argumentation I consider that no one has a counter point to that.

Don't get me wrong either. I don't dislike the concept of OTKs in general. I am quite the big CCG player and combo decks with an OTK win condition are the norm. But there I can deal with it by recognizing them early and play countermeasures.
But here... no it totally does not fit this kind of game for me.


My other main point with the choke points got talked about and even affirmed that they are supposed to be an integral part.


My arguments still stand. This is not interesting for me and forces me to play the game too similarly all the time.

I mean think about the following: You play the game for the first few times and yay, you just started a fresh new game and drew two unknown "new" missions. You read them, you wrap your head around new objectives and items (cool explosives where can I get those?) you are ready to begin and then you remember: "Oh whatever the new missions are and whatever new way I have to use to get my hands on the new items I have to divide my fighters AS ALWAYS to cover the choke points AS ALWAYS and think about my new scenario and objectives as a secondary thing.

For me this is too restrictive and too same-y all the time.


It's also not that I just like traditional action drafting games and the fact that you are constrained to make tough decisions is cool.

But I don't see this game achieving this dilemma with the choke points.
I would say you have to make tough decisions because you are so limited on time and the choke points rob you of making strategically depth decisions by forcing you to basically allocate them all the time anyway with sometimes making a risky move and not doing it.

That is just (a bit) too random for my taste.
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JK
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Once you understand how it works the OTKs *never* occur because you prevent it. And by tracking the potential patrols you can mitigate most of the randomness.

Like any game, it won't be for everyone. Personally, I love it and I respect your right to dislike it. But only once you properly understand how it works.

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Jake Staines
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El Bastardo wrote:

I would say you have to make tough decisions because you are so limited on time and the choke points rob you of making strategically depth decisions by forcing you to basically allocate them all the time anyway with sometimes making a risky move and not doing it.

That is just (a bit) too random for my taste.


If you don't like the game then you don't like the game - it happens. It's certainly not for everyone, and there is definitely an element of push-your-luck that's required and there's definitely some tactics that you're likely to follow more turns than not, and if the game is too far in that direction for you then that's obviously not something that's worth arguing about - if you've looked at the game and assessed that you just don't enjoy something about it, no-one can tell you that you're wrong about that!

But while I appreciate that designers jumping into threads to defend their games is a bit gauche, I would say two things in response to this point in particular - to at least make it clear where the reasoning comes from that made the game the way it is.

- Firstly, consider that the patrol deck is deliberately only ten cards. This reduces variance - you're not going to get Pont Leveque covered by the patrols for four turns straight, and you only need one of those two routes open to be able to get onto the wider map one way or another. The radios are key locations and there's one on both the left and right side of the map for this reason: if you want to make a run for a radio one turn then you can look at the patrol deck discard and make an educated assessment of which radio you have a better chance of getting to. You may even on turn two be able to guarantee that there definitely won't be a patrol on one or the other, if you're paying attention. Indeed, since the player placements and the patrol placements are interleaved, you don't even have to pay that much attention and can often bear in mind how many potential routes your agents have home, and simply choose to place or not place your agents as route-holders each turn dependent on how many of those potential routes are closed off by the patrols as the turn progresses.

- Secondly, it's my view that randomness is more or less essential for solo gaming - whether it's from card draw or die rolls or taking the number of seconds past the minute from a clock or whatever. Fundamentally, games provide challenge when you can't guarantee that strategy X will work and have to adapt as the game proceeds. In (good) multiplayer games this lack of guarantee comes from the fact that you have a second player (or more); they make intelligent decisions which are based on their knowledge of what your decision space is, which prevents you from being able to know with certainty the outcome of your actions. As soon as you know with certainty, you can 'solve' the game - in the same way that games like Noughts and Crosses and Connect-4 are solved and have 'perfect play' strategies.

In a solo game, with no opposing player, this lack of certainty - and the possibility for any move to have good or bad eventualities - has to come from within the game itself; without randomness then as soon as you win the game once then you have won the game forever, as you can simply replay the same series of decisions. So instead, the choice of the solo game designer is exactly how much randomness to include and - just as importantly - what kind of randomness. Maquis uses patrol cards rather than die rolls to place patrols because cards give the player far more information to make decisions with:
- Once a patrol card is played, it's not going to show up again until you shuffle the deck, so a lot of the time you know that the chance of the patrols turning up on a given space is dramatically reduced, possibly to zero.
- You know how many patrol draws are left before the deck shuffle happens, so you can plan for high-information and low-information turns; if you have a lot of patrol cards in the discard right now then it's a good time to go to the radio and call an airdrop, because a) you have the maximum information about where patrols will or won't be, and b) you know that next turn the discard is re-shuffled into a new deck and you lose all that information, so that will be a good turn to be sending your agents out to the completely safe fields to pick up airdropped resources.
- You can frequently infer which spaces are particularly worth blocking because patrols won't even be able to arrest an agent on that space so they're completely safe once deployed. If you have one placement left and the only cards left in the deck that feature - say - the Grocer also have different locations that are presently empty, then placing on the Grocer this turn is completely safe. And then of course you have to form your plan around the known-safe options, the safer-but-not-guaranteed options, and the riskier options.



If you feel that you "have" to make a certain series of moves on your first turn to avoid the low-information randomness of the first turn's patrols, then consider: would you be happier starting the game with the marker on the "1" space instead of the "Start" space, three patrol cards starting in the discard so you have more information to plan from, and one food and one medicine as starting resources? Essentially that's where you're likely to end up from a "safe" first turn, and you don't have to go through the motions, you can start the game with the opportunity to plan around the known-discarded patrol cards. But then you rob yourself of the opportunity to not have a "safe" first turn, or to play reactively to the patrol cards as they're drawn, which technically would make the game more restricted in terms of what actions are viable because you arbitrarily removed some choices.



Now, without doubt as the game's designer I'm biased, I made these decisions consciously so obviously I would think they were reasonable design decisions to have made! But I would suggest that nobody argued against the possibility of one-turn-kills from ignoring choke points not because you always have to place on the choke points all the time and follow the same strategy every time, but rather because you're asking people who have played and enjoyed the game enough to subscribe to the game's forum, so they're more likely to have internalised this aspect of the game so the question that's answered doesn't quite mean the same thing as the question that's asked, if that makes sense.
When I first saw your post, my reaction was something along the lines of "well obviously you have to pay attention to the choke points, that's the whole game"; that doesn't mean that you have to play an agent on Pont Leveque every turn, which seems to be the way you've taken it - it just means you have to factor the fact that they're choke points into your decision-making process, your risk/reward tradeoffs. Choke points on the map are an integral part of Maquis in the same way that the different pieces all moving in awkwardly-different ways is an integral part of Chess. It's something you have to plan around, but it shouldn't have to dictate your plan.
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Patrol cards' system is very elegant, no question about it.
One can role play Maquis naively or take it as probabilistic challenge.
Both ways of playing are enjoyable.

Great little game.
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El Bastardo
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Don't worry about the "designer defending their own creation" part ^_-

On the contrary.
Again thank you so much for that elaboration.
I enjoyed reading your thoughts and insight and I can really feel how much you know about the game because you thought everything through so many times.

As a game lover and game theorist in general (I am e.g. deep into Magic: The Gathering) I love that stuff.


One last bit on the OTK part: In Magic, "playing around" cards is what I meant when saying I can see OTKs coming in CCGs and defend myself against them. There I have to factor in risk/reward too but since I have card counts I can calculate a mathematical percentage quite well and exact (after 25 years of playing experience that is).


Now you are giving me a guilty conscience here ^_^


I will think about it some more.

Maybe I will lay it at rest for the time being and just back the game.

When it's ready for real (not just a quick and dirty print & play) I can give it a fresh new chance and worst case I have a nice present for a fellow gamer.
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Joshua Gardner
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This is such an interesting perspective, because I had a very similar experience. I lost 6 times in a row on easy, and all I could think was "Wow, I wonder what hard is like," but after figuring out the value of placing workers on spaces I don't necessarily need, just to keep the chain together (which, incidentally, I think is incredibly thematic for a euro resource management/worker placement game), I ended up one turn away from winning on game 7 (day 10, but didn't pay attention to morale chart). Narrowest defeat yet. And on game 8, I won in 9 days.

Personally, I was excited by the challenge. I'm looking forward to losing at this game more, so I can learn better strategies and keep killing Nazis. There are a lot of good strategy tips here I'm going to try messing with.
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Josh
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I had the same experience as the OP in my first handful of games; I really disliked it. I stuck with it though, and learned from my mistakes and now I really enjoy this game. It's definitely got a steep learning curve, but having played it enough that I'm no longer falling into the same traps over and over, I can confidently say that the concerns of the OP are not valid once you understand how to play the game in its entirety. That being said, this game isn't for everyone (as has already been mentioned).
 
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El Bastardo
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Just to reiterate/clarify: I do "understand how to play". I said that I do not like being forced into doing some "necessary steps" because they feel like a "glorified setup".


But enough for now. I do not want to rekindle the discussion.
As I hinted at, I backed the game, will let it rest for now and give breathing room and will give the game a new fair look after the retail release.
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