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Dominion» Forums » Variants

Subject: Help, My Gateway game broke !!! rss

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Gabriel Kitterman
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To start off I should mention that most of the people I play games with are non-gamers, so my collection leans towards gateway games. As you can imagine, I was really looking forward to Dominion.

I sat down to play a few initial games with a friend of mine. We both really enjoyed the first couple of games. They were fast, smooth and just plain fun. It was all going beautifully and I couldn’t wait to share the game with my gaming group (mostly non-gamers). It seamed like a perfect fit.

But then my friends did something I thought was foolish. During our third game he ignored the kingdom cards, and simply traded up his treasure cards and bought victory points. Long story short, he trounced me. We both laughed about it and dealt the cards out again. Again he trounced me. It wasn’t as funny this time. We quickly realized that the game did not have the structure we were hoping for.

We worked out a couple of ways to challenge the "straight to the victory points" strategy but we were both feeling let down by the game.

There is another huge thread talking about this issue:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/370572

One particular comment hit the nail on the head for me:
zeranix said:
"IMHO, I think it's a little defect in designing. In other excellent (strategy) games, they often cut off the direct routine between the initial resource and the final point, which counts for victory."

I’m not sure it's a defect in design but if the designer was trying to create a gateway game, I think making the direct path to victory so viable was a poor choice. There is a real let down when you realize the only way to beat the direct strategy is to spend your time trying to slow down their deck.

I don’t want to have to slow down someone else’s deck, I want to build a better engine and zoom past them. But without slowing down your opponent’s deck, there just isn’t a better strategy than to buy victory cards.

Imagine if the original Catan had allowed you to buy victory points directly. And imagine that the cost was so low that it made building cities feel a bit pointless.

It is still a good game, I just don’t think it’s a great gateway game. Serious gamers will play through the initial let down but I think non-gamers will just get frustrated. As the game stands, I’m not sure I will introduce it to my group.

I really like a lot about this game, which is why I would love to find a fix for this. One person suggested limiting the amount of gold available.

I not sure what would be the best way to making the "direct route" less effective. I would appreciate any ideas.

How could you lessen the effeteness of the "direct route" to victory?
 
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Archibald Zimonyi
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I don't understand. What do you mean direct route? Having one action (and not using it) and having only one buy and buying silver/gold only will not make a good deck. In the end you will have too many victory point cards in your deck and you have to "start" over and buy more gold, by that time the other player/s should zoom past, as you say, with ease.

I have heard this comment from many players (and I too see the pattern) but I do not see that as a problem for the game.

Many times in our games certain cards are purchased more then others (usually +card and +action cards) to rotate your deck faster. That is a key ingredient in the game, occurs every game (unless the random draw did not produce any +card or +action cards on the table) but why go look for that as a problem with the game?

Settlers, this old gem of a game, has the same flaws of repetition (but with a much higher luck factor), you roll dice, you get resource cards (if you are lucky), you trade, you buy, but still it is played and liked by many.

Bad purchases make a bad deck, good purchases coupled with a little draw-luck make a good deck.

I think you should give the game a few more tries with your non-gamer friends (try with more players) and see what happens. Maybe you are right and it is not a game for them but instead try to show them other ways to victory.

Also, if you have a problem with beating them try purchasing the Duchies until you know you have more points, then go buy the Provinces.

Archie
 
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Andy Van Zandt
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doesn't, like, one of the first posts in that thread point out that basic math shows purely trading money up is inferior? by a lot, even early on?
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Paul King
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I don't think that there needs to be a change. Buying only Treasure (and VP) cards will tend to do better than overloading on Action cards, but a decent mix of Action card and Treasure (and VP) buys should do better still.

(If anything it's a feature because it teaches players not to neglect the "boring" Treasure and Victory Point cards in favour of the flashier Actions.)
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Steve Bauer
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My first thought when I saw you post is it will never work.
It will take to long to get to gold and will get quickly clogged with vps in the end. After reading your post I didn't believe it would work so I jumped on BSW to try it out and I actually won 44 to 37. I think my opponent could have played a little better but he did not play bad.

Couple of things. There was no Chapel in play. Chapel is the best way to clean out your starting cards and get a much more efficient deck. You do not want coppers or 1 pt vp cards in your deck. There were no attack cards. The all money deck would be very vulnerable to the thief and the witch. There is a huge gap between the 3 for a silver and a 6 for the gold. You are going to be buying silver many times with 4 or 5 dollars. If cards like Festival, Market or Spy are in play then your deck should be much better than your opponent.

I would guess you are buying to many cards that don't give a free action. If you have action cards in your hand you can't play it is dead weight and will lose to the all money deck. If all your cards are playable you should be able to win easily. If you are playing a game with very few free action cards you want a high amount of money in your hand.

Best of luck, always helps to get some luck.
 
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David desJardins
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Bobagabe wrote:
Imagine if the original Catan had allowed you to buy victory points directly. And imagine that the cost was so low that it made building cities feel a bit pointless.


Actually, you can buy VPs in Catan, they are on the development cards. And, on some maps, just upgrading your two cities and then buying lots of development cards is a very viable strategy. You might eventually build one or two additional towns, but just for VPs, not for any other reason.
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Todd McCorkle
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Were you playing the suggested "basic" setup? Lately, I've discovered I have to make a conscious effort to not use what I call the "boring" strategy. It's very similar to the "silver test" mentioned in the other thread. So far, it's been quite effective which saddens me a little. I hope it's just a case of "appears broken at first against new players". Seems silly to me to have 10 copies of 25 (choose 10) action cards when I'm only going to buy 1 action card and focus on money and provinces.

Some recent games I've played.
I only provide this link because we played 3 games with the basic set back to back. Game 1 I was on auto pilot. Bought a smithy first turn then proceeded to ignore the action cards. Game 2 had a verbal agreement with me trying something (a remodel idea that I can't seem to make work) while one of the new players did the what I did in game 1. Game 3, no one started out with the "boring" strat, but 1 player did switch to it more or less less than halfway through the game and did quite well. I can't help but wonder if he would have won if he started out that way.

Limiting this discussion to the basic setup, how do you beat someone who buys a smithy and then ignores action cards? ie, 8 money = province, 6-7 money = gold, 3 money = silver.

I don't play on BSW and doubt I will be able to in the near future.
 
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Branko K.
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OK, since you linked to my own thread, I'll give my own 2 cents.

In fact, I'll borrow them from Zeranix, who you already quoted. One thing he said I found really sounded close to home was:

Quote:
I agree with most of your opinion in the first entry. I think that "default" strategy is much more a PSYCHOLOGICAL shock than tactical imbalance. When you've learned about it, you may suddenly find that what you've done are somehow meaningless...or in another word, you feel that you were trying hard to take some ways on a curve instead of a direct line.


I think he nailed it with this. It's mostly a psychological thing. You have just discovered what is now commonly called a "default strategy", and the mean thing about it is that it will always beat the new player who experiments with various stuff. But it's really not THAT bad, you've just made the first step towards realizing something about the game's mechanics; it's (mostly) not about having the neatest deck, but about buying Provinces as quickly as possible.

However, this is only the first step.

Once you play some more you will realize that this "default strategy" can be further improved. For instance, a Remodel card will enable you to exchange the "Estate" card for something actually useful; a Mine card will enable you to switch Copper for Silver, and Silver for Gold, removing those pesky Coppers for more luxurious cards; a Moneylender will do something similar, but often even more effective... there are ways and ways to improve the "default strategy", but it's necessary to be aware of it.

Which brings me to the Chapel.

You see, "default strategy" is really not that bad. Chapel IS bad. Yes, that strange little 2-point card which appears totally useless. THAT card is a basis for the infamous "Chapel strategy", and it beats the crap out of the "default strategy". In fact, it's so effective that almost every semi-experienced player will always use it if the Chapel is in the original subset.

So to cut this short, don't search for variants which defuse the default strategy, they are unnecessary. Just play some more, and you'll most probably rediscover that the game IS more complex then it seems now. AND odds are you will start hating the Chapel, too.

Edit:

Forgot to add. This:

Quote:
There is a real let down when you realize the only way to beat the direct strategy is to spend your time trying to slow down their deck.


is simply wrong. What you have to do is build the most effective deck. "Default strategy" builds a good deck, but definitely not the most effective one, given the actions offered.

The best way for you to make sure is to head down on BSW and hook up with some experienced players. They will bring back your faith of the game and will stop you from searching for some "variants". Just be sure to play without the Chapel.


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David desJardins
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From the OP's description, you were only playing two-player games. I'm pretty sure there's a significantly broader strategy space with four players. One obvious reason is the attacks. If you're playing a two-player game, there's only one player who might attack you for each turn you take. In a four-player game, there are three other players who might attack you. That doesn't mean you can't pursue the same strategies, but you definitely can be affected more by what the other players are doing. A second, slightly less obvious reason, is the card counts. Three or four players all doing the same thing can exhaust a deck pretty fast. That means (1) you might have to figure out what to do when you can no longer buy what you want, and (2) the game can end a lot faster, which is something else you have to take into account, not just how quickly you can get 4+ provinces.
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Gabriel Kitterman
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Thanks for all the responses.

Last night I played three games with some experienced players. The games were interesting and I did enjoy them. Afterwards we talked a bit about my initial reactions to the game. One of my apponents had similar feeling but we had both enjoyed the game just played.

I had some expectations of the game being a deck building game but as Brnko mentioned earlier in this thread

"it's (mostly) not about having the neatest deck, but about buying Provinces as quickly as possible."

That realization was definitely a letdown for me but I did have fun last night and I'm going to keep playing and see how the game progresses.
 
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David desJardins
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Bobagabe wrote:
"it's (mostly) not about having the neatest deck, but about buying Provinces as quickly as possible."

That realization was definitely a letdown for me but I did have fun last night and I'm going to keep playing and see how the game progresses.


Maybe you could play like horse jumping, where you get points for speed and at the end of the game you could also give out points for style. meeple
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