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Subject: 2-player issue? rss

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Lawrence Lopez
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I am wondering if having only one copy of each development card hurts the 2-player game. Is this an issue for anybody else? I am especially concerned about the granary: does having one granary give the holder an unfair advantage by increasing *both* the hand limit and the number of saved coins for the remainder of the game? I realize that the hand limit can be increased by purchasing other development cards that offer storehouses. Still, the combination seems somewhat unbalancing.

Any thoughts???
 
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David Norman
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Lightstorm wrote:
I am wondering if having only one copy of each development card hurts the 2-player game. Is this an issue for anybody else? I am especially concerned about the granary: does having one granary give the holder an unfair advantage by increasing *both* the hand limit and the number of saved coins for the remainder of the game? I realize that the hand limit can be increased by purchasing other development cards that offer storehouses. Still, the combination seems somewhat unbalancing.

Any thoughts???


The Granary is certainly useful. However, as with all the cards, the card is acquired through an auction. It therefore costs you slightly more than the other player thinks it is worth, to get it.

If the other player is undervaluing it, then maybe it is unbalancing. But that is the fault of the other player for letting you have it too cheap, not of the game for offering the card for auction! And it's no different to any of the other development cards!

David.
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Lawrence Lopez
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Thanks David.

Do you think this game works well as a 2-player game? I wonder if there's one path to victory that is set early in the game. Is that the case?
 
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Henri Harju
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Lightstorm wrote:
Thanks David.

Do you think this game works well as a 2-player game? I wonder if there's one path to victory that is set early in the game. Is that the case?


I'm not David, but once again it's an auction game.

If there is a path to win this game it is: Don't over bid too much on anything. And if some strategy/path seems too powerful, then raise the prize enough and it probably isn't so hot anymore.

Edit:

I have played this only once as a 2 player game and that was my first real game, so I can't really comment how well it works. Sure it'll probably be more interesting with more players, but I think it'll work reasonably well as a 2 player game, also.
 
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Lawrence Lopez
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I have played *many* auction games and am familiar enough with the mechanic to understand the value/undervalue concepts you describe. Clearly the player who lost chose to underbid for whatever reason but still ends up with on-hand cash to do other things. That's not really what I'm getting at with this post...

...my concern is that some cards are *too* powerful (the granary, for example) to have only one copy in a two-player game. I might discover that this concern isn't an issue with more two-player games under my belt but at this time am wondering if anybody else has had a similar concern. Many posts/comments indicate that Phoenicia suffers from a potential runaway leader problem, or that early game decisions might handicap a player to the point that he/she is unable to recover later in the game. I wonder if making cards unique (one copy) in the two-player game exacerbates this potential problem, effectively unbalancing the game for two-players? If so, has anybody looked at variants?
 
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Henri Harju
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Ok,

Now that I see where you're coming.

The run away leader problem is real in Phoenicia in my opinion. But I think it has much to do with this game being striped down version of Scepter or Outpost. Doing one single mistake during game can lead to your loss and I'm afraid that is the nature of this game (I happen to like it). In a sense it is a lot like Biathlon, one miss can mean that you're out of competition. If you don't like that sort of games, phoenicia may not be for you.

Personally I don't think there's *too* powerful cards in the deck, but as I said above, I have only played once, so I can't really give concrete opinion about 2 player game. I'm sorry about that.

I hope someone will.
 
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Lawrence Lopez
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I don't mind games where wrong decisions can hurt you. I just worry that two-player Phoenicia is a game where a player will make a wrong early-game decision and be forced to sit-out the entire game, bored silly. Is there a way to recover if the player doesn't get (for example) the granary (two-player game)? Since there is only one card of each kind I can't help but wonder if recover is almost impossible.
 
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Henri Harju
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I think Dyer and Shipyard can be more damaging if you let your opponent have them for too cheap, than granary. But maybe it's just me..

Sure granary is good, but it's not the only way to increase your storage..
 
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Mark Delano
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I've played a few two player games, and I don't find Granary to be overpowered. It's probably more powerful than in 3-5, but by no means the overriding determinate on who will win. In particular there are a few things you can do to minimize the impact of Granary:

- Make sure the Granary doesn't go too cheaply. Sometimes I'll let it go for 4 on the second turn, but after that it shouldn't be cheaper than 5 or 6.
- Get through Set 1 as quick as you can. If Set 1 lasts for too long the Granary player can save up enough money to outbid you for the critical Set 2 cards.
- Income, income, income. Get your income up to 7 or 8 before Set 2. This means you can keep buying cards and still have the income to buy more next turn.
- Get the Dyer for a reasonable price (2-4, depending on situation) if you can. Even if the Granary outbids you for the Dye House the 4 discount should hopefully let you push the bid much higher, which will let you get the Caravan or Smelter.
 
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David Norman
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frunkee wrote:
I've played a few two player games


Just to put this in context, on the JKLM Interactive site (http://www.jklminteractive.co.uk), Mark has played 476 games of Phoenicia (so far). he's won about 2 games out of every 3 he's played, and over 75% of the games he's played in have been two player games.

My experience of playing against him is, it doesn't matter which card you think is too powerful, he'll let you have it and then beat you without it! He certainly doesn't win by knowing that certain cards are required in order to win, and always outbidding you for those cards.

David.
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Michael Leuchtenburg
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I played 10-15 2-player games of Phoenicia on the JKLM Interactive site back when it was available for free. I found that while there it is definitely possibly for one player to run away with the game, this doesn't happen due to winning a single card.

Also, in a 2-player game, is a run-away leader really a big problem? Just resign! Clean up and play again. Sure, I'd rather not have to do that every game - why not push the "real" ending earlier in such a design? - but if it happens sometimes I don't mind.
 
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Chuck Parrott
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Lightstorm wrote:
I am wondering if having only one copy of each development card hurts the 2-player game. Is this an issue for anybody else? I am especially concerned about the granary: does having one granary give the holder an unfair advantage by increasing *both* the hand limit and the number of saved coins for the remainder of the game? I realize that the hand limit can be increased by purchasing other development cards that offer storehouses. Still, the combination seems somewhat unbalancing.

Any thoughts???


Maybe it's more obvious in a 2P game, but the same problem exists in any number of players of the game. The balance of the cards in the setup is such that someone will be denied certain cards unless they competitively bid for them. Without that balance, the auction portion wouldn't have the same weight. Why bid high for a card you are almost sure to get later on?

As other's have pointed out, there are more paths to for storage than just the granary. You have to plan your path to expansion and be prepared for the opportunities when they appear.
 
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Mark Delano
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cparrott wrote:
As other's have pointed out, there are more paths to for storage than just the granary. You have to plan your path to expansion and be prepared for the opportunities when they appear.


Two player can make the competition for storage particularly sharp. If the storage in Set 2 comes up in an unfortunate order the unwary non-Granary player can get stuck at 2 storage. With 4-5 it's more difficult and expensive to stop the non-Granary players from getting storage.
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David Norman
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dyfrgi wrote:
I played 10-15 2-player games of Phoenicia on the JKLM Interactive site back when it was available for free.


The JKLM Interactive site is still available for free.

At some point, we will start charging GBP 5 per year for access to all the games, but there will probably always be two games on there which can be played for free. As it currently only supports two games (Phoenicia and On the Underground), they are both currently free.

David.
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Michael Leuchtenburg
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DavidNorman99 wrote:
dyfrgi wrote:
I played 10-15 2-player games of Phoenicia on the JKLM Interactive site back when it was available for free.


The JKLM Interactive site is still available for free.


Huh, cool. I'll have to play it some more, then!
 
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Lawrence Lopez
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After more plays I've realized a few things, among which is that the granary is *not* too powerful (or unbalancing) in the 2-p game. We were missing a number of rules when I posted this thread - I'm embarrassed that I overlooked these rules, but they made a *big* difference:

1) We accidentally reversed the icons on the game board (the BIGGEST thing that made the granary overpowering). We mistakenly gave points instead of production and production instead of points. A HUGE mistake.

2) We overlooked the rule that adds an additional storehouse with *each* new clothworker. This is another way (of many) to recover from not having a granary.

3) We missed the rule that has the role of overlord pass from one player to another if there is a tie for first place. We were keeping the overlord player the same from turn-to-turn if the two players were tied for first. The overlord *is* a tie breaker for end-game scoring, however.

4) We missed the rule that the overlord (or any player) who is initiating auctions cannot bid on *any* auctions if they pass on initiating auctions. So (for example) if the overlord bids on a card (either winning or losing) and chooses not to initiate bids on another card, the overlord can't bid on the second card if the opponent initiates a bid on the card. Note: this really impacts a multi-player game.

5) We were mistiming the exchange of four coins for a card. This only happens at the end of the administration phase and is almost automatic.

Clearly I posted my original question before really digging into these rules. I'm sure I'm exposing myself to criticism for this but I still think the rulebook as written (and even the Nova rules, if a player is rushed/excited to play) is not very clear on some subtleties. (I need to mention that I really appreciate what Chris did with the Nova rules - I'm not trying to be critical of this fantastic player aid). I also really agree that the game graphics leave something to be desired.

So... in all I am finding that Phoenicia is an EXCELLENT 2-player game, very balanced and challenging regardless of which cards come up at auction. While I agree with other posts that argue that the first-turn overlord has a slight early-game advantage I feel that this advantage balances-out during the game.

This is a fine but underrated game.
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