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Subject: First game, went way long rss

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David Etherton
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I didn't have enough useful things to say to warrant a full session report, so I'll just do a brief post.

I finally got to try this the other day, group of four people. We quickly fell into our own niches -- Dan was the guy with no production or storage, but happily bought and shipped lots of goods. Chris was the guy with tons of production but no storage. I was the guy with average production and lots of storage. Kristina played a balanced strategy.

Our first game took three hours to finish, not including teaching. I don't think AP was a problem. Here's what I think what went wrong -- we were cranking along at a pretty good pace, with Chris doing most of the production and driving the tempo of the game. However, about 90 minutes in, the first good type ran out, and we had maybe 4-6 goods of the next most common type, and Chris had a monopoly on those good types. He decided to start raising his prices, and somewhere around there the endgame "clicked" for the rest of us and we started paying much closer attention to what was left.

About that time I finally clued in to the "final" value of a shipment at the end of the game -- assuming you got your split color right, and your most common good was one of your two crap goods, you could figure out exactly how much a shipment was worth to you -- and obviously you want to pay less than that.

(Of course, it's a little more complicated than that, because you may want to prevent somebody else from getting the shipment because it's worth even MORE to them -- but I didn't want to think that hard and just worried about what it was worth to me)

I fully expect the first play of a game to take much longer, and we all enjoyed the game, but I'm worried I'll have a hard time getting the same players back to the table if I can't figure out what we "did wrong".

The last few turns also dragged on a bit because nobody wanted to commit to buying anything and having it get stuck in a warehouse or on a ship. Could that be (and/or should that be) solved by giving everybody else another turn or something?

EDIT: Also, many of our auctions were pretty close (a dollar or two between the top two bids) so I felt like we all had a pretty good understanding of the worth of items. But the ending scores were also pretty high (scores were 80-something, 80-something, 120-something, and 150-something) so perhaps we should just chalk the length up to initial inexperience and try again? I definitely enjoyed the game.

-Dave
 
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J C Lawrence
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etherton wrote:
About that time I finally clued in to the "final" value of a shipment at the end of the game -- assuming you got your split color right, and your most common good was one of your two crap goods, you could figure out exactly how much a shipment was worth to you -- and obviously you want to pay less than that.


By the mid-game you should know each of the other player's value cards (ie colour distribution values). At that point the shipments an the auctions get a lot more interesting as players start to play up to specific buyers and the generic 4 and 5 colour loads cease to be the most valuable.

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I fully expect the first play of a game to take much longer, and we all enjoyed the game, but I'm worried I'll have a hard time getting the same players back to the table if I can't figure out what we "did wrong".


Container is a fairly comfortable 120 - 150 minute game here, which seems about right to me. I hear of other groups that get a lot closer to 90 minutes.

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The last few turns also dragged on a bit because nobody wanted to commit to buying anything and having it get stuck in a warehouse or on a ship.


It is usual for the last round or two to slow down a lot. Everybody sees the end coming and is juggling the balance of player incentives so that the player they want ends the game versus someone else. Containers in warehouses are worth VPs as are goods on ships. This is why the factory players drop their prices through the floor in the end-game -- factory containers are worth nothing.

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But the ending scores were also pretty high (scores were 80-something, 80-something, 120-something, and 150-something) so perhaps we should just chalk the length up to initial inexperience and try again? I definitely enjoyed the game.


You're well within reason. For other group's scores see: Container - Please Post Your Final Scores

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Seth
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etherton wrote:
... and Chris had a monopoly on those good types. He decided to start raising his prices


Chris can only have this monopoly if he is the only one producing just THE ONE item (for example white). It is against the rules to have more than one machine that produces the same color. Of course, such a monopoly is easily broken. In your case that could have been you or Kristina judging from your strategic preferences. perhaps that went wrong?
 
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David Etherton
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Kristina and I had two factories each, inadvertently of the exact same kind (my fault -- I wanted to make sure nobody had a monopoly on my best good).

Nobody wanted to compete against Chris on white and black though, because anybody who tried would be quickly (and rightfully) totally undercut by him. The third factory is pretty expensive...

But in retrospect, that did probably have a lot to do with the change of pace ... we ended up "going out" on a color Chris didn't have a monopoly on.

I so want to play this again soon...

-Dave
 
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David Etherton
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I re-read Kevin's strategy thread (EDIT: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/261194) and he mentions that if you think the 4/5 player game goes a little long, you can just start with either one or even two fewer goods of each type in the pool.

I might try that next time.

-Dave
 
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Benjamin Keightley
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I hope you don't.

Container is a game that can run a little long or a little short, depending on how the group behaves. Three hours is a little long, but not unbelievable--I'd imagine that your second game will naturally run a bit shorter. Taking out a handful of containers from the game will certainly shorten it, but you risk losing some of the market ebb and flow that makes Container such a strong game.

For sure this is partially a matter of horses for courses, but when I read your post, I was excited to hear from a group that really seemed to 'get it' right away. This board has a disheartening number of reports from groups who price everything at $1 and $2 for the whole game and then complain that the game is boring, broken, too long, &c. Your game sounds like it had savvy players creating interesting supply and demand patterns that changed shape throughout the game. Whether it ran too long is partially a matter of taste, but I'll bet you're not the only one who spent time after the game evaluating what went right/wrong, and how they'd work to shape the market next time.

I've found that with both 4 and 5 players (I haven't played with 3), the game is the right length in terms of number of turns. The 5 player game is a little long, though, in terms of actual minutes it takes to play. Taking out containers would remove some of the interesting supply/demand shifts that happen in the midgame. If it's a choice between playing a very interesting game for a little too long, or playing a less interesting game for the 'right' amount of time, I'll always choose the former.

More practically, I think you'll see the endgame speed up as you play more games. If your group is anything like the people I've played Container with, consumer confidence will (rightly) be at an all-time low at the end of the game. As you get better at the game, you will learn to adjust prices at the right time to match this low confidence. The end will slow down due to analysis, but the production chain should continue to operate at full speed. Further, one (if not two) players will be working overtime to shut the game down because they think they're ahead. Again, this comes with experience--but it doesn't take much.

Either way you play it, I'm glad you're looking forward to another game. I hope you give it another shot as it was designed, though. By making it shorter than it should be, you run the risk of stifling it.
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