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Subject: Is the game too long? rss

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I've played Indonesia twice now. While I enjoy the game I feel it can drag a little towards the end, and the other people I have played with generally agree.

I am trying to think of ways to shorten the game without spoiling or unbalancing it. I'd only like to shave off 30-45 mins or so, because any more than that would be cutting out too much. I figure this translates into 1 or 2 turns.

My ideas include having a set number of turns or reducing the number of companies
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Richard Young
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Re: Is the game too long
I guess it very much depends on what you consider to be "too long." One thing I can report is that there seems to be a considerable difference in the length of the game with five players as compared to playing with four (the extra player added about an hour of additional playing time). Still, we didn't think the close to four hours it took us as being "too long," but we were surprised at the difference that one extra player made. The time it took to calculate the different options for runs, given the extra cities and for that number of players, was considerably more time consuming particularly towards the end. However, I expect that will go a lot more smoothly with experience.

I consider Indonesia to be among the more intensive games of strategy - in the same category as Revolution: the Dutch Revolt and Die Macher which are longer games. It may be possible to streamline the play somewhat but then it wouldn't be the same game any more. Perhaps you need something different, like maybe Power Grid or Small World? How about Agricola, Container or Le Havre?
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William Springer
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Re: Is the game too long
I generally find Indonesia runs 2-3 hours, which seems about right. How long are your games lasting?
 
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James Nathan
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Re: Is the game too long
I've only played 5 times, but for the groups I've played with, the time sucks are:
(1) bookkeeping
(2) abnormally low slots/abnormally few mergers. (Not that 5 plays is a good way to judge what is 'abnormal')

The expediters for (1) with me are [1] calculator, [2] replacement boats (see the Files section for the files I uploaded, and image below), and I'm sure poker chips for some, but not for me. (I'm working on a scoresheet to make the money and the chips vestigal [we play with open money, and one day I hope to have enough plays to analyze the results if I keep detailed in-game money flow records])

The expediters for (2) are [1] more Mergers, [2] more Slots. I find that each game, it never seems like I have enough slots, so for me, (2)[2] is a no brainer.

(1) seems like we're taking too long, and (2) could be that this instance of the game is taking too long - though that's depends on your strategy. Some strategies need the game to take longer, and some need it to end quickly.

For me, the game feels that it has the right ratio of fun/enjoyment per time unit. But I'm also, with the exception of dexterity games, a rules purist.



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Re: Is the game too long
If you've been playing with three, add a fourth and see what that does for your time. If it's still too long, add a fifth.

More players means less turns. It's unusual but in this game you get a longer playtime with fewer people.
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Quote:
I consider Indonesia to be among the more intensive games of strategy - in the same category as Revolution: the Dutch Revolt and Die Macher which are longer games. It may be possible to streamline the play somewhat but then it wouldn't be the same game any more. Perhaps you need something different, like maybe Power Grid or Small World? How about Agricola, Container or Le Havre?


Thanks Richard. I generally like most of those games - my favourite class of games are heavy economic eurogames. However I feel that Indonesia can drag due to players having to re-evaluate and compute the best shipping routes each turn.

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I generally find Indonesia runs 2-3 hours, which seems about right. How long are your games lasting?


About 3 to 3.5 hours, based on 2 plays. the issue is not so much the amount of time, but the fact that the game gets repetitive. (I also do not love 18XX for this reason)
 
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For me, the game feels that it has the right ratio of fun/enjoyment per time unit. But I'm also, with the exception of dexterity games, a rules purist.


This is what I'm after - amount of fun (i.e. tough decision making) per unit time. I feel that too much of the time is taken up in calculating shipping costs and routes, which for me is not fun. It seems more like an optimisation puzzle (i.e. with a single identifiable solution) than something you can take significantly different strategies to. If there was a computer version that could do this part for you...
 
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I look at RTS's and find that computers + pathfinding = no.

Although, maybe with the very limited amount of ships and shipping spaces in Indonesia may work quicker than RTS pathfinding... regardless, when you own a shipping company you tend to have choices over where you want to ship your stuff, i.e. you can ship it farther in order to make someone else ship farther.

I feel it takes time but that the time spent is worth it for what the game brings to me. If you put a limit on turns, you make it a one-strategy game - play for the game to end that turn. Whereas without that limit, you can play for it to go on an extra turn, during which you merge that company, take it, and now you make more than everyone else and get it doubled to boot.
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Richard Young
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JohnRayJr wrote:
If you've been playing with three, add a fourth and see what that does for your time. If it's still too long, add a fifth.

More players means less turns. It's unusual but in this game you get a longer playtime with fewer people.


Well that's exactly what we thought - more players burn through the fixed number of company tiles faster so the turns (epochs) should be shorter. But, the larger number of cities that get introduced, the increased number and combination of merger possibilities (along with the time to resolve them) combined with the increased number of "run calculations" actually added time most notably when going from four to five players. At least that was our experience...
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Andrew Nichols
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Briefly, no.

Use poker chips, provide everyone with calculators (or at least have one person manning a calculator to announce permitted bids), lean on players to plan ahead, and don't mess around with hyper under-bidding on mergers.

As far as the shipping bookkeeping goes, I've never had a major issue in any session, but there are many excellent resources here for more rapidly handling that. But even just using the suggestion printed in the rulebook works well enough.

I don't think that total fun/minutes played is the right way to approach games. Was I engrossed in the game the entire time? Was the game filled with important and agonizing decisions? Indonesia is supreme when approached in this manner.

Quote:
About 3 to 3.5 hours, based on 2 plays. the issue is not so much the amount of time, but the fact that the game gets repetitive. (I also do not love 18XX for this reason)


This confuses me, as I have never felt either 18xx (or Indonesia, which is rather similar in spirit) to be repetitive. Sure, there's one goal: make money, but change small things in your approach, see your opponents react and make changes themselves, and pretty soon the entire strategic structure has changed.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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If I could thumb Andrew's post twice, I would. That's exactly the spirit of games like this.
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Joe Huber

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JohnRayJr wrote:
If you've been playing with three, add a fourth and see what that does for your time. If it's still too long, add a fifth.

More players means less turns. It's unusual but in this game you get a longer playtime with fewer people.


Interesting - I've found Indonesia to be fairly immune to changes in length based upon the number of players.

And, in fact, if I have a complaint about the length of the game, it's that's it is perhaps a turn too short; often, the C era lasts only a single round, regardless of the number of players. I suppose there are group effects that could add time - if no one is taking slots or mergers. But as these are often the most valuable options, it's hard to imagine no one choosing them.

In general, we finish the game in 2 hours; it can be played in 90 minutes comfortably.
 
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Eric Brosius
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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The answer is "not when Joe is in the game."
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J C Lawrence
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Ahh, the Huber-effect.
 
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Agent J
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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The B-era is set up to go a little longer with an extra deed and C is meant to be shorter with one less deed. In order to allow for a strategy revolving around not letting oil really get going, it has to be able to end quickly.
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Andrew Nichols
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I'll just add that player manipulation of the game length and tempo seems a highly important part of winning; a static turn variant would completely change huge elements of Indonesia strategy.
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