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Subject: special powers compared to "wealthy" - discussion rss

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Gergely Orsó
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Hi!

When I was thinking about what special powers are the best, something occurred to me, and I'd like to hear opinions about how valid it is.
Basicly, SW is a game of points, so everything is to be measured based on how many points it can grant you.

Wealthy is the most straightforward ability in this manner: it gives you instant 7 points, but at the cost of not having any special power at all. That's like saying the avarage point bonus you'll have to make using a race with a special power (thanks to the power only) is 7 points, since having no power - to be balanced - needs to equal 7 points.

But since it has to be an avarage number - otherwise we'd all feel that wealthy is overpowered, which is not a point that has been brought up yet as far as I'm avare - I guess the intention of the designer was to be able to get more points with good play out of any ability.
For this to have any practical use to us, let's say you are given a choice to get wealty somethings, and the same race with another combination for the same price. How do you decide, which one to pick?
You have to ask yourself: will I be able to make more than 7 extra point from the ability alone? If the answer is no, you're better of picking wealthy instead.

I do not intend this as a strategy article, but a discussion, where everyone shares wievs about the "value" of abilities using this comparison. I'll just add a few of the abilities, or groups of a kind I thought would be useful in this way.

alchemist: if you can keep them for more than 3 turns, they worth it. In my experience, not many race is worth keeping for that long. Even with 4 turns it's just a +1 point bonus.

underworld, commando, mounted...abilities thah give offensive bonuses: with these kind of abilities it depends on 2 things:
- you have to get at least 8 extra territories with them, or
- you have to keep them alive for more than one turn ( counting in decline)

So you either score with the ability +8 for one turn, or +4 for two turns, and so on...
I guess this gets more reasonable with a race of high staying power, since not even a freakin' lucky berserker race will give you 8 extra in just one turn. could be worth it with a race of high endurance (3+ turns), since the power fades quickly if you lose your guys.

forest, swamp, hill...scoring powers: these powers are not that different from the ones listed under offensive powers: with offensive bonuses, you'll get more territories to get points from, with scoring bounses, you'll get more points out of less lands. Anyway, they operate by the same principles as offensive powers: either you need a lot of (8) special zones fast (not really possible) or you need to hold onto them for a long time. This is a more reasonable plan, but it will still require at least 3 turns to be profitable, unless you have ratmen or amazons, and a really lucky setup.

To compare scoring and offensive powers, I can say that offensive powers are somewhat more reliable, you are not really dependant on your map position, and the things that can give headaches to an offensive race (heroic, halflings, dragon) can stop the scoring powers just as well. Unless you have a really good map setting, or race combo to your scoring power, I say take the offensive one over it.

Less straightforward powers like spirit or stout are hard to calculate this way, so I have yet to incorportate them here.

Right now, my basic conclusion is that take another race over wealthy only when you expect to keep that race for at least 3 (or 4) turns, otherwise you lose points. And that is to say that everything goes your way (who cares you are hill wizards if you have only 6 tokens after your first turn with them?) Powers can inflate over time, wealthy is instant, which is always good.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for opinions!


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Ben Bateson
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I think the long-term defensive power of a unit warrants a little bit more merit than you're giving it. Anything that allows you to attack mountains on the cheap is always worthwhile, because your opponents will steer clear, even when you're in decline. Picking a Fortified race is almost certainly a bonus over Wealthy for much the same reasons, plus the VP bonus that comes with them. Seafaring has outstanding defensive prospects, as does Spirit. All of these are worth considering over Wealthy.

It's also essential to consider the combination as a whole. Wealthy doesn't combine well with long-term races like the Skeletons, Sorcerors and - at a pinch - the Halflings. It DOES combine outstandingly well with Dwarves for a quick hit-and-run 2-turn stint, especially at the game end.
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Brent Lloyd
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I also think you have to factor in the number of units each special power gives you.

2: Merchant
3: Fortified
4: Wealthy, Hill, Alchemist, Commando, Forest, Berserk, Swamp, Stout.
5: Heroic, Mounted, Dragon Master, Underworld, Seafaring, Pillaging, Flying, Bivouacking, Diplomat, Spirit.

Peace
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Dylan Birtolo
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I agree that you definitely need to consider the number of creatures with the special power, as well as what you are pairing it with. For example, a combat-based advantage when added to skeletons would make that combination much more desirable than a skeleton-merchant combination.

You also need to consider which turn it is. Merchant is wonderful as a late-turn grab considering that the odds that you can conquer an extra seven territories with a combat-advantage is low, even if you have an extra unit or two.

But then there becomes the question of where in the stack is the wealthy? If it is near the bottom of the stack, paying four tokens to get it decreases from it's value. Then you are only netting three tokens. Not to mention, you are making other races worth one extra token.

In short, I don't think that there is a hard solid rule that you can apply. There are far too many factors. But in general, I think that merchant makes more sense to get as a late-game power, just like I think spirt makes sense to get as an early-game power. Picking your last or second-to-last power as Spirit doesn't usually pay off in my experience, for obvious reasons.
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Zsolt Ipacs
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It depends on the play style, too. Last week we played a really cutthroat game, no players scoring more than 10 points at any one round, with only two exceptions, and one of them was me taking the Wealthy race. With another, more peaceful and point-maximizing group, it didn't even cross my mind to take it. As I was routinely getting 13-14 points, it didn't seem worthwile.
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Zack Stackurski
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Something else to consider is how far up the combo ladder you have to go to get Wealthy. If you have to pay more than 1 or 2 coins to buy a Wealthy race you'd better be passing up some real junk (or it needs to have a matching number of coins sitting on it already).
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James Honeyfield
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Lord Vetinari wrote:
with these kind of abilities it depends on 2 things:
- you have to get at least 8 extra territories with them, or
- you have to keep them alive for more than one turn ( counting in decline)

So you either score with the ability +8 for one turn, or +4 for two turns, and so on...


Good article. But aren't you forgetting the other side of the ledger in your equations.

If you get at least 8 extra territories then that is 8 that your opponent doesn't get = 16 extra coins.

I think you've doubled the amount of benefit your power actually has to give you. If your opponents immediatley take them back immediately then you're right. But i think if you only take 4 extra territories and keep them for 1 full turn then your oppenent lose 4 points they'd normally have got. Giving you your +8.

Correct me if im wrong. I agree with the other post above that says you also need to consider the extra tokens you get from a +5 power over a +4 etc.

Interesting discussion
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R A
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Tough unless you can be certain you're depriving the leader (or playing two player) - you can't make the straight "one denied = one gained". In one on one denying is worth a swing of 2. However if all players have equal scores then conquering is worth a swing of: 3 player = 1.5. 4 Player = 1.33. 5 Player = 1.2

And obviously if a player is not doing well for points then the swing is it's minimum of 1 and you may as well conquer an empty space.

I have no idea if these maths stand up in any way, but that's how I figure it.

Interesting thread!
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Tarjei Aasen
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One thing not to forget is that Wealthy is less useful if your in-decline culture is profitable. Last game I had Fortified Trolls holding a significant part of the map longer than I had expected and so my Wealthy Giants had to play for the long game when they'd otherwise be a culture you'd burn through quickly.

If someone does take Wealthy and has a quite good in-decline culture, it becomes important to squish the Wealthy culture instead of the old one, to make the player hang around with an inefficient culture longer than he'd otherwise wish to.

That's something that doesn't immediately follow from the rules.
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Martin Juhl
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TarjeiAasen wrote:
One thing not to forget is that Wealthy is less useful if your in-decline culture is profitable. Last game I had Fortified Trolls holding a significant part of the map longer than I had expected and so my Wealthy Giants had to play for the long game when they'd otherwise be a culture you'd burn through quickly.

If someone does take Wealthy and has a quite good in-decline culture, it becomes important to squish the Wealthy culture instead of the old one, to make the player hang around with an inefficient culture longer than he'd otherwise wish to.

That's something that doesn't immediately follow from the rules.


Very god point indeed!
 
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Danny Mack
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I have always considered Alchemist- to be the mean.
A Special Power should net you at least 2 coins per turn--either by easier conquests (Commando- Berserk- etc.) or straightforward VP bonuses (Hill- Forest- etc.)
IMO it's natural to compare Alchemist- and Wealthy- as you have here. And 4 turns with Alchemist- is 1 VP better than Wealthy-, but you'd have to keep it Active for that long. In my experience, 7 VP up front makes you a target, whereas 2 VP per turn keeps you under the radar.
As Han Solo said: "What good is a reward if you ain't around to use it?"
 
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