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Subject: Notre Dame as a 2 player game rss

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Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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Notre Dame is a particular favourite of one gamer friend, so whenever he comes over it comes out. Surprisingly, between his visits it doesn't get chosen as often, despite the fact that it's a game I always enjoy - too much competition, and I think we maybe overplayed it when it first came out! However we've tried it 2 player a few times recently, and this may be a way to get it played more!

Rules - how are they different in a 2 player game?
There are no actual rules differences with 2 players. The rulebook clarifies a couple of rules with 2 - you use the 4 player board centre, flipped to the 2 player side, and 2 player boards. When passing cards, as you draw 3 and draft them with your opponent, you will get one of your own cards back.

How is the game different with 2?
The game feels very similar to the multiplayer game. The differences in strategy/feel of the game are all very subtle ones, and don't greatly affect gameplay at all.

Notre Dame cards tend to be kept more often, unless you're short of cash and/or really need one of the others. Passing it guarantees your opponent 6 points if they want them, and that's a lot to pass up. In a multiplayer game where often 2 of 4, say, will go into Notre Dame, it's much easier to pass those cards. Similarly early game the Park cards don't tend to get passed, to block your opponent from getting the park victory point bonus too early.

There is an element of blocking your opponent which also comes in in the multiplayer game (blocking your left-hand neighbour from the cards he really wants), but which is more worthwhile in the zero-sum 2 player game. For instance if your opponent is short of cubes/cash, you can make sure not to pass your cards that give him those things, which means he relies on drawing his own.

The fact that you get one of your cards back can also add to your strategy decisions. By predicting what your opponent will pick, you can sometimes pick your first card and guarantee yourself a third card that is also useful to you. It doesn't always work though!

The final difference is that the game is quicker with 2, as it's a game that takes a certain amount of time per player. I was surprised last night to find that our game had only taken just over 20 minutes.

Verdict
I'll happily pull this out with 2 players more often, especially now that we don't play it so often multiplayer.
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Stven Carlberg
United States
Decatur
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Isn't there a rule about using the tokens that the carriages pick up for two extra colors not otherwise in the game?
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Ernie Lai
United States
Forest Hills
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ssmooth wrote:
Isn't there a rule about using the tokens that the carriages pick up for two extra colors not otherwise in the game?


yes you actually use 4 player boards, the 2 real players must be opposite each other, not adjacent. the other 2 boards are filled with messages of 2 unused colors and nothing else. players must pick up a message in all 4 colors before they pick up a second of any 1 color
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Eddy Richards
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Allanton
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We get this out fairly often as a 2 player game and it is highly satisfactory. Though your main opponent is not your fellow palyer but those evil rats!
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Dave Martin
Canada
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Yes, we played this two player many times when we first got it... it's as great with two as with more players.
Two main differences as I see it:
Using carriage to get what you want is easier, as only two players are 'consuming' the messages for four players, and -
The fact that you will end up with two of three of your original cards. This change can be quite intriguing... there are times when you do not keep the same first card as you would in a multiplayer game. Eg. you are desparate for a coin, and 2 of your 3 cards can get you a coin, but the other card is very good for you at this time also - you can keep that third card, resting assured that you will get back one of the cards with which you can get a coin.
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Steve Duff
Canada
Ottawa
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I still prefer my variant best:

Since the board is set up for 4 anyway, also bring out the 3rd and 4th set of cards, shuffle them as neutral piles.

On your turn, draw 3 of your cards. Keep 1, pass 2 to your opponent. Keep 1 of the 2, *discard* the final card, and draw 1 card from the neutral pile to your right (thus each player draws from a different neutral deck). 9 rounds, 9 neutral cards, it's perfect, over the entire game both players see all the neutral cards.

This is *exactly* like the 3 player game. You have 3 cards, all from different decks.
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Tim Seitz
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Glen Allen
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Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
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I'll step in and say I think the strategy changes rather dramatically for 2 players vs other numbers, much more so than it does in other games, say like Caylus. But I also think the game plays equally well with any number of players since decisions are simultaneous, it's the execution that occurs sequentially, and that is very rapid.

1. You'll never get more than 2 cubes in a location per phase, so this changes certain strategies based on the bonus cards, particularly with the move 1-3 cubes card appearing in the first round (minstrel?).

2. Because of this, player strategies tend to be highly correlated, whereas with more players, you can win with big margins taking the less-traveled path.

3. For me, Notre Dame actually gets played LESS with 2 players, simply because it's zero sum. I play, you play. You play, I play. The card gets kept often, but we usually don't spend the money to play, particularly early on. The only time it makes sense to play Notre Dame is if you have a lead in park or money, or if your opponent passes the card and you keep it.
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Richard Ham
United States
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Does the first player have an unfair advantage in 2p, as he gets first dibs on the helper people cards more often than the 2nd player? Should p2 get an extra coin at the beginning or something to counter this?
 
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Steve Duff
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rahdo wrote:
Does the first player have an unfair advantage in 2p, as he gets first dibs on the helper people cards more often than the 2nd player? Should p2 get an extra coin at the beginning or something to counter this?


There's no advantage in hiring people first, all players can hire the same card if they want.
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Richard Ham
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oh wow. i missed that in the rules!
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Chris Berger
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Round Lake
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If anything, I think the start player is at a disadvantage. When I play with my wife, I always take Quasimodo and don't bother switching him each round because, as I tell her, "going first doesn't really make much difference, but to the degree that it matters, it's mostly a disadvantage". In fact, off the top of my head, I can't think of any reason to want to be first...
 
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Alex Brittain
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+1 for Steve's variant - nice one.

We played it this way last night and it vastly improved the 2player.

If you know there's still a Notre Dame card in your spare deck, you can now pretty safely hand one to your opponent without fearing a 12 point loss.
 
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Eddy Richards
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The only reason the first player might be at a small advantage is when both might want to pick up the same message using the carriage. Obviously this is a rather infrequent occurence! Otherwise it makes no real difference.
 
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Mark L
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Ed_the_Red wrote:
The only reason the first player might be at a small advantage is when both might want to pick up the same message using the carriage. Obviously this is a rather infrequent occurence! Otherwise it makes no real difference.

Sometimes going last is an advantage, which of course means that going first is a disadvantage. There are cases where you want to be able to see what card your opponent plays before choosing yours.

One example springs to mind; it's the last turn of the phase, and the first cards for this turn have been played. You have Notre Dame in your hand, and your opponent hasn't played their Notre Dame card yet.

If your opponent plays Notre Dame you need to do the same, as you can't let them get 7+ points while you get nothing.

However, if they play something else, you can forget Notre Dame and play a card that puts you in a better position later on (the Cloister School when you're getting low on cubes, for example).

But if you have to play first, you're committing yourself without knowing what the opponent has in their hand.
 
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Eddy Richards
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I don't entirely buy this. Arguably if 7 points is too many to let your opponent have unhindered, you should grab the same 7 points yourself. Alternatively, if the non-Notre Dame move is better for you (will be worth more than 7 points in the long term) you should do it anyway, whether your opponent Notre Dame's or not.
 
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