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Subject: End Game Cut Off rss

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Nick Case
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We have now played this a few times with 3 and 4 players. However all games have one thing in common, none of them have ever played out to the actual end with no tipis on the board. We have always reached a stage where one player is seen to have a significant advantage, can't be influenced by other players and although the game may be a dozen turns from finishing in accordance with the rules (no Tipis left on the board), it has been agreed that this player will win and there is no point in playing the game out.

So this got us to analysing what was going on here and we noticed a pattern;

1/ As the game progresses, some buffalo always get left at the start of the board.
2/ As the game reaches the half way point, some tipis have reached the end hexes. Opponants then force these tipis off to avoid a cycle of tipi creation and easy step off the board for quick points.
3/ This sucks the other tipis forward to follow the quickly migrating herds in order to keep them alive (4 players with 4 tipis really whip the bufallo along).
4/ There is a rush to get your tipis off to scrape in points before tipis 'die'
5/ The game then slows as players have only one or two tipis and bufullo move slower.
6/ Players are then eliminated as they have no more tipis. They try to remain interested but hey, they are out of the game facing a lengthening wait until the next one starts.
7/ 2 Players are left, near the step off point at the end of the board with few if any resources or buffalo to stay there very long. The other is further back tucked up with 2 or 3 buffalo just ahead of the residual herd right at the back.
8/ Here's where the decision kicks in to end it there. The player with one or two tipis at the back can drive the other player off and then the game turns into a puzzle, how to max out with tipi creation and get ALL of your tipis home. In that way final scores project to being; 2,2,3,8.

There's a reasonable argument here to say that everyone should hang back and not let it happen, but in practise there is always a handful of bufullo stranded at the back, cut off from the progressing herds with someone left just in front. This is an unbeatable strategy and with experience in the game its possible to interpret the layout and winner almost from turn 3.

This realisation provoked a debate after the last game and this sparked a couple of conclusions;

1/ It an extremely untidy and acceptable finish for a game in the 21st century to drag on for 30 minutes after a player has been eliminated. If indeed player elimination is acceptable at all.
2/ There must be a better incentive for someone to drive their tipis forward rather than hanging back to see how can win by hanging back.

I usually cringe when I read reviews from players who have played something once, the game hasn't panned out, so they call it 'broken' and swear never to play again or suggest inappropriate rule changes to 'mend it'. However, I hesitantly offer a tweaking (certainly a variant) to the rules to avoid the protracted end games that we have experienced.

The game does not end when there are no tipis on the board, it ends when there is only one colour of tipis left. In the case of a draw, the winner is the first player who got their 1st tipi off the board. What is created is a far more aggressive forward thrusting game where players jockey to get their tipis off. Playing time is truly 45-60 minutes rather than the 90 minutes projected with the end game slow down.

I'd appreciate feed back from other players. Please feel free to rip this to pieces but please offer alternative suggestions if you do either on where we are playing incorrectly or other tweaks.
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Paul Allwood
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Hmmm, very interesting analysis, which I agree with!

That was exactly how our game played out. One player got into the lead and managed to get all her Tepees off and left the game. Another player was eliminated a couple of minutes before this and that left 2 of us trying to calculate how we could survive to get the 2 straggling buffalo up to us before our resources ran out, which took about 15 further minutes, only to find out that the first player who got their tepees off, won anyway!

Paul
 
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Dirk Liekens
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Being the only player to hang back with enough buffalo's is indeed very interesting. But I think it's up to the other players to make sure that the herd isn't split up. You could make sure you have a teepee just in front of that player who wants to stay behind. This way you can always move his buffalo's forward and get benefit from it.
Plus if the herd gets split up and you see that someone is getting a big advantage by staying behind, you could always go back with one of your teepee's. This happened to me once and it was a brilliant move from the other player.
To my experience staying behind isn't a dominationg strategy, sometimes you win the game that way, but you could loose as well. Plus most of the games I've played we mostly have 1 or no buffalo's that were not used.

And if you use your variant, that if only one player has teepee's left the game ends and that in case of a draw the first to get a teepee at the end, wins, you will turn this game into a simple race game to my opinion.
I believe that the fact that you don't have to be the first tribe to reach the open plains, makes this game much more interesting.
But I'm very interested to hear from you on how the game goes when you implement your ideas.

Finally when players discuss the winning strategies of this game, I always say that there is only one strategy to win the game and that is: stay with the buffalo's.
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Anthony Simons
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When the game behaved like this during our last play, I was prompted to start that thread about the rules ambiguities to which you contributed. At first we played that teepees are permanently removed, but we changed this to recycled because near the start of the game some felt it was too easy to eliminate others if teepees left the board never to return.

We later found that one player was eliminated long before the endgame, and at this point there was one player with hordes of buffalo backed up behind his last two teepees. This meant the game could drag for a bit longer just to reach the inevitable victory for this player; at which point everybody was discussing whether or not we should have just stuck with the permanent elimination of teepees we were originally considering.

I'm sure you now understand my concerns with the game. Having said that, I'm not sure I like your suggested solution. If the game ends at the point only one player has teepees still in play, then to me it would be too much of a race and less dependent on resources and planning. Indeed, if this was the case, then turn order would become a definite determinant for victory; getting that first teepee to the plains would be key.

I would prefer that a player not be punished for a combination of his clever use of resources and/or somebody else's vindictive displacement of his teepee towards the close of the game (which, let's face it, is going to be set up by somebody). I would rather finish the game where further play is pointless than cut it short of it's intended evolution. I'm opposed to the butterfly effect which might ensue if the wrong kind of rule change is made, yet I feel there is some improvement required. I just don't know what, and I lack confidence in the suggested change. I'm afraid I don't have a better suggestion, either.
 
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Simon Cox
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hincapie wrote:
I always say that there is only one strategy to win the game and that is: stay with the buffalo's.
Not so easy when you are too close to the line with two Teepi's and a handful or resources. I was in the game that BigBadLex is writing about and in one move, because I was looking to be too dangerous, the other three players took 8 buffalo off two of my teepee's forcing me into a process of moving teepees to the plains so that I could get points and that led to a position where the player at the back was not able to be challenged. great idea to stay with the buffalo but it helps if they don't get moved!
 
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Dirk Liekens
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I would say that it was a misjudgement of the two other players (not the one who was in the back) to focus to much on you...
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Nick Case
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hincapie wrote:
I would say that it was a misjudgement of the two other players (not the one who was in the back) to focus to much on you...


Well you could be right, but how far can you wind this level of hindsight back?

A player camped out on the end line with 2 teepees and 2 huge herds is in a position to factory produce teepees for the next few rounds. Unless immediate action is taken by all players this players scores an immediate 5-6 points.

OK we do have our friend camped out half way back but how do you call it? Stop inevitable points now or possible later? You are apparently king making in either scenario. So the answer would seem to be that you don't allow such a dialema to occur in the first place.

Maybe with a 2 player game this is achievable but with a 4 player game, such foresight and initiative needs a collective consciousness and that just doesn't happen in many games. You need equally experienced and able players to pull this off. In reality there are always players who are more experienced or more in tune, and these factors appear to have a bigger influence in Wind River than any other game I have played.

Unless open table diplomacy takes place to flag up that the early stages of an unbeatable configuration is forming, these patterns will emerge and we will continue to finish games early as an expediency prior to the actual end game conditions being satisfied.
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Dirk Liekens
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I don't completely agree with you.
Off course more experienced player have an advantage like in a lot of games (except may be for light family games). I don't have the feeling that this is different then in other games.
From what I have seen in games where I didn't participate, is that when one player is ingnored, that player usually wins the game. After all this is what makes this game great, to my opinion, you have to play against each other.

If you wouldn't live on the other side of the channel, I would invite you to play a game of Wind River with me to see how much different our gameplay is.
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Aaron Haag
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Just a quick remark about an important omission in the English game rules: in "5.3.4. Moving an extra buffalo" the German rule states that you may chose this action even if you no longer have tipees on the board. This means that actually nobody is out of the game until all tipees are removed from the board. We overlooked this rule also in the German version and when we introduced it the end game became very different!
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Nick Case
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That is quite a significant omission.

F*ck my old boots, thats a totally different game.

Guys circle the wagons, we need to play again.
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Simon Cox
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Oh wait ... That means I would have won all the previous games.
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Nick Case
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Cyberjunk wrote:
Oh wait ... That means I would have won all the previous games.


Including in Essen 2008, which you didn't attend.
 
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Tor Sverre Lund
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That does indeed change things quite considerably! Also I have to say I completely disagree with the OP. I recognize the setting (some buffalo left behind, etc), but saying someone is about to win just because they have the most tipis is very wrong. I had the feeling one of our players last game was about to win. He had 4 tipis on the 2-3 last rows, and the rest of us had only 2. But he made the mistake of buying another tipi, which led the herd away from him and leaving him without resources, unable to move into the last row(s) (where some of the other players were). So one by one his tipis started dying off, and he ended up only getting one or two across. I was forced into the corner with another player in some sort of a stand-off. I finally gave up and "migrated" a bit further north, where I was able to pick up some stragling buffalo and actually managed to get 5 tipis from that one "lone settler". So the guy who everyone thought was about to win, actually ended up second to last. And me, who looked definatly worst off together with another player, ended up winning. This game is definatly not over till it's over!
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Nick Case
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Gawain wrote:
That does indeed change things quite considerably! Also I have to say I completely disagree with the OP. I recognize the setting (some buffalo left behind, etc), but saying someone is about to win just because they have the most tipis is very wrong. I had the feeling one of our players last game was about to win. He had 4 tipis on the 2-3 last rows, and the rest of us had only 2. But he made the mistake of buying another tipi, which led the herd away from him and leaving him without resources, unable to move into the last row(s) (where some of the other players were). So one by one his tipis started dying off, and he ended up only getting one or two across. I was forced into the corner with another player in some sort of a stand-off. I finally gave up and "migrated" a bit further north, where I was able to pick up some stragling buffalo and actually managed to get 5 tipis from that one "lone settler". So the guy who everyone thought was about to win, actually ended up second to last. And me, who looked definatly worst off together with another player, ended up winning. This game is definatly not over till it's over!


Apologies for taking 6 months to acknowledge the last post, but better late than never.

I think you need to reread my opening thread. I never said that someone would win if they had those most Tipis. I never said anything even approaching that statement.

What I said was that the games all seem to reach a stage 'where one player is seen to have a significant advantage'. For the reasons then listed, none of which are 'most tipis'.

The revelation that 'eliminated' players can still move a buffallo makes a huge difference
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