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Subject: Quick review of Kingsburg - To Forge a Realm rss

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Mister Phreeze
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Last night our gaming group (4 players) played 2 games of Kingsburg - To Forge a Realm. We are all veterans when it comes to playing Kinsburg, so we were all looking forward to trying out the new expansion. Following are my thoughts on each module contained in the expansion.

Module A - 2 extra rows of buildings

The new player mats contain 2 new rows of buildings in addition to the original 5 rows. Both rows are interesting, with the 'Sawmill' row having a fairly obvious engine (trading wood and stone for gold, then trading gold for soldiers and VPs). The 'Improvised Defenses' row was more battle oriented and to be honest, I didn't try using that row at all last night, so I can't say too much about it right now. The only thing I can say is that the benefits of that row weren't as obvious or as valuable to me, hence the reason why I didn't bother with that row.

Overall, I like the fact that there are 2 more rows of buildings to choose from, simply because it adds a bit more variety.

Module B - alternate rows of buildings

In addition to new, expanded player mats, there are also alternate rows of buildings which can be used to replace the rows printed on the mats. There are 7 alternate rows of buildings (2 copies of each), and each one replaces one specific row printed on the player mat. Players randomly select 2 alternate rows at the start of the game and then decide how many (none, 1, or both) to use. This is done on a player-by-player basis meaning one player might use both alternate rows they drew, while another player might use none. The rows are lettered A-G on the player mats and the alternate rows, so you know exactly which row the alternate row replaces.

As for the rows themselves, they are nice! A couple of them, such as the 'Brewery' row, can be very powerful and at first glance, I don't think any of them are weak. The thing I like about this module is again, the variety it adds to the game. Instead of having the exact same mat as all other players, every game, each time you play your mat will look a little different (unless you always choose to use none of course). This means that you can't always play the exact same strategy every time you play (again unless you never use alternate rows), and equally important, each player can't play the same strategy, so the game is pretty much guaranteed to be diverse.

Module C - Governor cards

At the start of the game, each player gets 3 Governor cards dealt face-down to them, from which each player selects 1 to keep and discards the other 2. Once all players have selected their Governor, all are revealed and the game begins. Once again, the beauty of using the Governor cards is that it creates more diversity in the game (notice a trend?). Since each player's Governor is different and the effects they have are unique, every players playing experience in the game is going to be just a bit different than their opponents'. And again, because you only have 3 to choose from, it's unlikely that you'll be able to tailor a strategy to play every game.

I really like the Governor cards. The benefits of some of the Governors are more obvious than others, and a couple of them seem somewhat weaker (ie. the Duke and the Thief), however I think that it might depend on the number of players playing the game, whether or not a particular character is more or less useful. The Duke for instance gets better when there's only 3 players because his power becomes more likely to be useful. However I can't see choosing the Duke in a 4 or 5 player game, unless my other 2 options are not very good either. Overall though, most of the Governor cards have useful abilities which add to the game nicely.

Module D - Event cards

I actually think that they are referred to as Destiny cards in the game, but I don't have the instructions in front of me to verify that right now. Anyways, if you play with this module, then at the start of each of the 5 years, you draw an event card from the deck. The effects of the event are in place for the entire year and all events can be categorized as being either positive for all players, negative for all players, or neutral. However, I would argue that the events that seem neutral, such as 'New Forest', where all players are benefited equally, are more or less beneficial to each player depending on their individual situation at the time. For example, 'New Forest' which can give all players up to 3 wood in the year depending on the die rolls, seems like a total wash because all players receive the exact same reward. However receiving that wood might help one player more so than another at that particular moment in the game, so it's not totally even.

Again, like all of the other modules so far, the benefit to using the event cards is the introduction of more diversity to the game....more chaos. Because the effects of the events are felt by all players, they don't create as much variety in the game itself between the players, as they do from game to game. As I mentioned, certain events might tip the balance for or against a player depending on the timing of the event, but to me, the real attraction to using the events is in the diversity of gameplay from game to game. Sort of like the Occupation and Minor Improvement cards in Agricola, which add a random element to each game to shake things up a bit, so too do the events in this module. The most obvious example of this is the 'King is Sick' event (the exact name escapes me at the moment). If this event happens twice in the same game, the game immediately ends. Theoretically the game could be over at the start of year 2. This might seem dumb to some people, but think about how seeing this event in year 1 might alter your strategy - do you stick to a full-game strategy, or do you start off by building some of those less-useful-but-more-valuable buildings just in case the game ends early? Interesting.

Module E - Soldier tokens

If you use this module, you no longer roll a die during winter to see what the king sends for reinforcements. Instead, each player has 6 tokens numbered 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4 to select from to add their own personal reinforcements. This module, unlike the events, actually takes away a random element and personally I appreciate this. I always felt that the random die roll for reinforcements was too unpredictable, and because of this, my experience in playing this game countless times was that most people stuck to the "safe" strategy of building up their combat, which meant that most games looked and played out the same. Now, because each player can choose the number of reinforcements they want each year, it opens up other possibilities which before might have been too risky to try.

Now for those of you who don't know, you can only use 1 token each year and once used, it's gone for the rest of the game. You can't re-use the same token. Also, at the end of the game, you receive VPs equal to the value of your last, unused token, which leads most people to keep the "4" token in order to score the most points. Some people would immediately say that this just reintroduces a 'scripted' sort of feel to the game again, where all players are following the same path, however my feeling on it is that even though it does seem to make the most sense to keep your "4" token in order to score max points, it might be possible to more than make up for those points by focusing your attention on other, more valuable buildings instead of worrying about your combat at a particular time in the game. It's definitely one of the aspects that I plan on exploring further in future games.


Overall, I feel that this expansion is definitely worth picking up. To me it has breathed some new life into a game that I enjoyed before, but felt was getting stale because every game was playing out pretty much the same as the one before. It has introduced enough variability to the game to shake it up, but not so much that it has fundamentally changed the game into something radically different. It still feels like Kingsburg, just with some new options available to you.

A couple last notes that I haven't mentioned yet:

1. You can mix and match the 5 modules, using only the ones you want, so if you really don't like the Event cards and what they do to the game, don't use them. This is just one more positive element to this expansion - it doesn't force you to change the game in every way, but rather gives you control on what you use and what you don't. And again, this fact adds variety to the game from one play to another because you can change which modules to use each time.

2. There are alternate methods for selecting the alternate rows and Governor cards, involving bidding processes and the like, so if you aren't a fan of random selection, there are official methods to do so otherwise.

This expansion is all about adding variety and variability to the game and in my opinion, every aspect of it has done so, and done it well.
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Richard Parker

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Great review and I pretty much agree on all you said. Oddly my group refuses to use the tokens. They are worried it will force us to be more military minded...which we already tend to be. So I havent even punched my tokens out yet...I hope to convince them to at least try it a couple times to see how it changes things.

I had to really fight for the event cards after our 1st game since our top scorere barely broke 40pts (me I also had the Princess), as the events really slowed us down....yr-2 some of us only had 1 building. Next game though we all broke 60pts and had at least 15 buildings each. Persoanlly I love the different feel the cards brought to these 2 games..they keep complaining about the low scoring game...lol
 
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Andrew Garttmeyer
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People with thier averages. One game of Kingsburg I vividly remember rolling 1,2,1,1,1. So....yea.
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Andrew Garttmeyer
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Great review BTW!
 
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Steve Wagner
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WhiteKong wrote:
Now, a much better way to have implemented this (in my opinion) would have been to give MORE token options. I would have gone with token numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. If you had those numbers, your average would STILL be 3.5 defense, but it would be predictable. Also, you would award victory points for the tokens not used. So, it would definitely pay to use riskier strategies, while eliminating the luck element. With the way the tokens are implemented, a token game means you MUST build a bunch of defense. The farm strategy simply isn't viable most of the time.


As I've played a ton with the soldier tokens and most games have gotten the farms, I would say that the farm strategy still works fine with the tokens. You have to be more creative, like get the stable and get the temp soldiers, but it works.

Going back to the previous point you made, that the average is lowered, that isn't a bad thing. Most games with the king's help die roll, it is far too easy to beat the monsters. The soldier tokens help to make the game tougher, which makes it more interesting.

I play with the King's help die roll when playing with new players and the tokens when playing with experienced players.
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Dan Dedeaux
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I also felt Kingsburg was getting a bit stale and was going to pass this expansion up. But, after reading your review, I think I'm going to get it

Thanks.
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Mister Phreeze
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WhiteKong wrote:


The average die roll for the king's reinforcements is 3.5. So, when you roll the dice, if you plan for a reinforcement of at least three, you'll be correct most of the time. Three is a lot of soldiers and allows one to try riskier strategies.

Now assuming you don't use the 0, you have a 1, 1, 2, 3, 4 for the five seasons. That means that on average, you have 2.2 soldiers per year. 2.2 is NOT a heck of a lot, especially considering that two of those years is definitely going to be a 1. This is 38% less defense, on average, than you get when you roll the dice.



Though you can go with statistics and use math to find your average roll, the reality, from my experience at least, is that players who fear exactly what you talk about - losing a building, especially in the early part of the game - will make sure there is zero chance of doing so. This then leads them to employ the same, conservative strategy game after game (pre-expansion).

Now, when you use the tokens, even though the average level of assistance from the king is lower, there is no more randomness to it which means players can plan ahead. This is key. Knowing exactly what you will have at the end of winter in terms of strength allows players the option to explore other strategies without the gamble. This isn't to say that some players won't still employ heavy combat strategies, because some will in order to ensure that they can save the "4" token for the VPs at the end of the game, but from my perspective, being able to guarantee your combat strength each year, even if it's value is on average slightly lower than rolling the die, it's more important and more helpful to you.

Also note that even if you still want to play "safe" and employ a combat strategy, there are more options in that regard in the expansion which means you can achieve the same basic result in more ways now. Some of the new building rows are combat oriented, but obviously in a slightly different way than old rows are, and it's some of the slight variances which can alter the outcome of the game. There are also certain Governors who add combat strength, which reduces the number of buildings needed to be built solely for protection.

In the end, everyone still needs some basic level of defense in this game, with or without the expansion, or else you are guaranteed to lose battles, and likely buildings too. Only the riskiest of players would try to play without ANY combat strength at all. All that using the tokens does for you as a player is it allows you to control everything in regards to your combat strength instead of playing the random game.
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Snowball
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Very informative. Thank you.
 
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Mister Phreeze
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WhiteKong wrote:


Almost without exception, the 0 through 2 tokens are played in the first three years, and the 3 and 4 tokens are played in the last two years. Where is the strategy in that? If everyone does the exact same thing, it isn't a strategy, it's a mechanic.


I don't disagree with most of your logic, and having combat is still important, however I'm going to disagree with you slightly on this point...even though we only played the expansion twice, it was very easy to save the "4" token for the VPs. In our first game, all 4 of us playing did so and not everyone had significant combat building investments. In fact, I've already read other people complaining that it's too easy to save the "4" token, so everyone does, and we fall back into "if everyone is doing it, why bother?" But to me, I think there are other strategies which will use the "4" token at some point, meaning less VPs at the end, but it won't matter because the lead built by the player is too great thanks to other factors.

I guess it must be the addition of the Governor cards and the new building rows that changes things enough to allow, and some might argue make it necessary, to have the tokens give lower average values than the die roll. I'm pretty sure that if the tokens ranged 1-6, it would be too easy to win battles, thereby making almost every combat oriented building unnecessary and redundant.

The only other observation I can give right now is that all of us playing last night recognized that the 5 and 10 spots on the board became more valuable than we ever considered them before. In the past, it made very little sense to waste die rolls on the 5 or 10 unless you were either stuck with them as the only options left for your dice, or you were really hurting for battle power. Though the expansion doesn't directly change the 5 or 10 spots, there are enough new buildings, Governors and events which do reference soldiers specifically and/or give you the resources you would otherwise miss out on by taking the 5 and 10 spots, that acquiring your battle strength with soldiers instead of simply via buildings, is more viable now.

All in all, the soldier tokens are probably the one module in the expansion that will generate the most debate as to whether it's a good addition or not. But like I said before, the beauty of this expansion is if you don't like the tokens, then simply don't use them and roll the die as before.
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MGS
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Not necessarily disagreeing here. I think the tokens must have a lower average value than the die roll. The reason is knowledge. In my opinion, if you plan well, most of the pips on the king's die roll are wasted, because it doesn't matter if the king rolls 3.5 every time. You will be ready for when he rolls a 1. This is not true only if you are a big risk taker but if this is the fun of the game for you then you should not be using this module any way.

I don't say this based on a military oriented strategy. I really enjoy the farm strategy but I always build a couple of the weak defensive buildings and buy a safe number of soldiers to be ready for the roll of 1. Furthermore, since I like to visit the Queen, it is easy for me to know what combination of soldiers + tokens I need.

Bottomline: I think the average value of the tokens must be lower than the average die roll.
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Mister Phreeze
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WhiteKong wrote:


BTW, I haven't mentioned this before, but I think you did a great review. Hence, the thumb and the tip. I hope to see more reviews from you in the future.


Thanks! I've got a couple other games that I'm thinking about writing reviews for, so you might just see my next one soon.
 
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Andrea Chiarvesio
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Magnusun wrote:
WhiteKong wrote:


BTW, I haven't mentioned this before, but I think you did a great review. Hence, the thumb and the tip. I hope to see more reviews from you in the future.


Thanks! I've got a couple other games that I'm thinking about writing reviews for, so you might just see my next one soon.


Thanks for taking your time to play the game and write this interesting review! I am glad you appreciate the expansion, and thanks to the other players comments, too!

ps: from a designer point of view, the average of the tokens should be lower than the average dice roll, of course, since it becomes deterministic, so you choose when you receive how many soldiers. This leads to more interesting strategies than the basic, "gateway" game.
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Evan Stegman
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MysteryMan_007_007 wrote:
Great review and I pretty much agree on all you said. Oddly my group refuses to use the tokens. ...


I have had the reverse experience: people refuse to play without them.

I made up my own set of tokens when it was first announced how it works. It addresses the biggest knock people had on the game: the kings roll adds way too much luck to the game because the possible swings are so huge.

We tried some of the variants posted here but after using the tokens, most won't play with the die anymore.

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Yul Beauchamps
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Sheeesh...the guy plays my game and writes a review under my nose! LOL The gloves are off I'm writing a review on one of yours.
(For those confused Phreeze and I are part of the same gaming group)

Good Stuff though, I can probably still write my own but Phreeze pretty much captures what I also think of the expansion.

There are a few points that I'd like to make.

1. 3.5 is not necessarily an accurate average of a 6 sided die roll that is rolled 5 times. If you were to roll that die an infinite amount of times then yes the average in theory should work out to 3.5.

2. I find that using the tokens creates a greater value for the advisers that allow you to peek at the enemy card. (#10 & #17) Not that anyone needed convincing to go on the queen. However my point is this allows a greater benefit when dealing with the enemy card. Why spend a 3 token when you know a 2 will win it for you. Also in the two games we played we did notice that the #5 spot was also more popular when combined with some of the new rows such as the Brewery. This to me is nice because those spaces were rarely used pre-expansion. People built buildings to give them 1 or 2 lower strength than the maximum possible strength for the enemy. Then only a roll of 1 was normally bad. I used to always play it safe and go the military route. However I always hated the fact that I went through all that trouble to have such a large army yet one lucky die roll of 6 and everybody ended up with the same rewards with much less strength. Sure you still got the bonus victory point for defender but too me that was far less valuable then those who used less resources on building an embassy.
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Steve Duff
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Hawkeye75 wrote:
However I always hated the fact that I went through all that trouble to have such a large army yet one lucky die roll of 6 and everybody ended up with the same rewards with much less strength. Sure you still got the bonus victory point for defender but too me that was far less valuable then those who used less resources on building an embassy.


But that's the entire point. Fortune favoured those who took the riskier path. They took the risk, they got more points than you did. Exactly as it should be.

It's boring when everyone just builds up the maximum army and takes no risks.

Our best game ever was last game, when it came down to the final dice roll. Roll a 1, 2, or 3, and we'd both lose to the Dragon, and I'd win the game. Roll a 5 or a 6, we'd both defeat the Dragon, and I'd win.

Roll a 4, my wife would still defeat the Dragon, but I'd lose to him, lose a building, and lose the game...

And damned if she didn't roll that 4 she needed... zombie
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Yul Beauchamps
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Hawkeye75 wrote:
However I always hated the fact that I went through all that trouble to have such a large army yet one lucky die roll of 6 and everybody ended up with the same rewards with much less strength. Sure you still got the bonus victory point for defender but too me that was far less valuable then those who used less resources on building an embassy.


But that's the entire point. Fortune favoured those who took the riskier path. They took the risk, they got more points than you did. Exactly as it should be.

It's boring when everyone just builds up the maximum army and takes no risks.

Our best game ever was last game, when it came down to the final dice roll. Roll a 1, 2, or 3, and we'd both lose to the Dragon, and I'd win the game. Roll a 5 or a 6, we'd both defeat the Dragon, and I'd win.

Roll a 4, my wife would still defeat the Dragon, but I'd lose to him, lose a building, and lose the game...

And damned if she didn't roll that 4 she needed... zombie


I'd agree with you if I didn't feel the risk was so minimal. Through our many games people building an Embassy really only needed to fear year two or maybe even one. However most of the time they would usually at least build a guard tower or palisade. With the expansion you can at least yield greater rewards for going a military route.

On a side note I was lucky enough to draw the Brewery row in both of our games and boy do I love that one! The Port is great for obvious reasons, the vineyards is the equivalent of having the faerie and the traveling market gives you great flexibility with that dice you just don't know what to do with. Of course there is a downfall for balancing purposes...it gives you the least amount of points as compared to any other row. (grand total of 4)
 
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Jamey Philipp
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WhiteKong wrote:


Almost without exception, the 0 through 2 tokens are played in the first three years, and the 3 and 4 tokens are played in the last two years. Where is the strategy in that?


I don't know diddly about averages and such, but in our plays this is pretty much what everyone did, so, so far, I agree with Kong.
 
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Yul Beauchamps
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Well there is absolutely no strategy in praying to the luck gods...

But hey the beauty is the expansion was designed to be modular which I think was a fantastic Idea. Those who don't like the Soldier tokens can easily continue to play with the original rule of rolling a die. I myself like the tokens but the important thing is that the folks you play the game with have a good time.
 
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Jamey Philipp
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I agree 100% on all counts. I like the tokens too, but just saying the way our games have been working out.
 
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Randall Bart
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Hawkeye75 wrote:
Well there is absolutely no strategy in praying to the luck gods...

Yes there is. When I am behind, I go for a risk where I can get lucky and catch up. When I am behind I play safe. The winter battle is a very important part of the game, becasue it is an opportunity to get lucky. Without that, this game runs way too long. You can be in the third year and have some players already eliminated.
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Yul Beauchamps
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Barticus88 wrote:
Hawkeye75 wrote:
Well there is absolutely no strategy in praying to the luck gods...

Yes there is. When I am behind, I go for a risk where I can get lucky and catch up. When I am behind I play safe. The winter battle is a very important part of the game, becasue it is an opportunity to get lucky. Without that, this game runs way too long. You can be in the third year and have some players already eliminated.


I think you misunderstand what I meant. The act of rolling a die requires no strategy in of itself. I can see taking a risk vs reward by not getting soldiers as a strategy but it is also dependent on luck. At least when I used the tokens I feel like I'm making a decision independent to my opponents.

For example:
Year 1
Everybody knows that the first enemy can range from 2-4 in strength. Also I know from experience than in year 1 only 3 cards have a building loss as a penalty. They are both strength 2 enemies (goblins and barbarians) and the strength 3 goblins. I only have 1 strength for building a guard tower and nothing else. The choices I have are -

1. Use the 4 token to guarantee the win. Of course we know that most will keep this token until the end of the game. However it is interesting to note that yesterday my friend won our second game and he did not have is 4 token at games end. So yes it can happen

2. Playing the 3 token also seems excessive but at least I know I have 4 out of 5 (80%) chance of winning the encounter. Even if the it's the strength 4 zombies I won't win but I wont' lose either.

3. The 2 token gives you a 40% chance of winning, a 40% chance of a tie and 20% chance to lose the encounter. The good news is you can guarantee that you won't lose any buildings.

4. Even using the 0 or 1 token is a viable strategy. Maybe you made sure you left yourself with no resources. You risk the chance of losing a building but maybe you only lose one victory point.

I'll admit there is still luck involved since the fact that the card is randomly drawn. But as I've mentioned before you can eliminate that as well by using #10 space to take a peek. Now you know exactly what you should use.

Personally I prefer this method because I have to make a decision on what token to use.

In the end I suspect the soldier tokens will probably be the point of greatest contention amongst all the modules for the expansion. I may prefer the tokens but I don't think there is anything wrong with using the dice.

If you love it, use it, play it. In the end that's what's important!
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Erich Cranor
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Hawkeye75 wrote:

1. 3.5 is not necessarily an accurate average of a 6 sided die roll that is rolled 5 times. If you were to roll that die an infinite amount of times then yes the average in theory should work out to 3.5.


first part: true, but irrelevant--a posteriori vs a priori ("after the fact" vs prediction) Average was referred to because it is also the expected value. The expected value IS 3.5.

second part: untrue -- you cannot make an infinite number of rolls. Ha ha! okay, not really meaning to be snarky...only to point out that using math terms without proper mathematical attention to detail is a fast road to thinking you've proved something when you really haven't, so it's prudent to be careful (as in, mathematically nit-picky) with them.







 
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Andrea Chiarvesio
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Hawkeye75 wrote:
Well there is absolutely no strategy in praying to the luck gods...

But hey the beauty is the expansion was designed to be modular which I think was a fantastic Idea. Those who don't like the Soldier tokens can easily continue to play with the original rule of rolling a die. I myself like the tokens but the important thing is that the folks you play the game with have a good time.


I could not have said this better myself.

My behaviour (and I am pretty sure Luca agrees) is that there could be no way to design this game (well maybe any game, actually) in such a way that every kind of different player would like it.

So, by providing you tools and options, you can make your kingsburg closer to your group playing style, and different people will have fun playing with different options, instead of have some happy and some complaining.
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Yul Beauchamps
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pinbot wrote:
Hawkeye75 wrote:

1. 3.5 is not necessarily an accurate average of a 6 sided die roll that is rolled 5 times. If you were to roll that die an infinite amount of times then yes the average in theory should work out to 3.5.


first part: true, but irrelevant--a posteriori vs a priori ("after the fact" vs prediction) Average was referred to because it is also the expected value. The expected value IS 3.5.

second part: untrue -- you cannot make an infinite number of rolls. Ha ha! okay, not really meaning to be snarky...only to point out that using math terms without proper mathematical attention to detail is a fast road to thinking you've proved something when you really haven't, so it's prudent to be careful (as in, mathematically nit-picky) with them.


laugh I admit I am far removed from my days of studying Finite Math and I could be out to lunch. However I would never expect a value of 3.5. Assuming we are not playing with loaded dice, there is an equal chance (1/6) for any face of dice to be rolled...every time it is rolled. To expect an average value of 3.5 is to expect the die to be rolled 1,2,3,4,5,6 on 6 rolls (never mind that we only roll 5 times in Kingsburg). It it just as likely to roll 1,1,1,1,1,1 than the other combination.

Of course it doesn't really matter. It's just interesting to think about.







 
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Michael Rumaley
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Hawkeye75 wrote:
I admit I am far removed from my days of studying Finite Math and I could be out to lunch. However I would never expect a value of 3.5. Assuming we are not playing with loaded dice, there is an equal chance (1/6) for any face of dice to be rolled...every time it is rolled. To expect an average value of 3.5 is to expect the die to be rolled 1,2,3,4,5,6 on 6 rolls (never mind that we only roll 5 times in Kingsburg). It it just as likely to roll 1,1,1,1,1,1 than the other combination.

Pretty close. When rolling 6d6, you are 4332 times more likely to get a sum of 21 and a mean of 3.5000 than you are to roll six consecutive 1s.

Hawkeye75 wrote:
Of course it doesn't really matter. It's just interesting to think about.

As long as you restrict your game choices to those where the total number of die rolls throughout the course of the entire game is no more than one, you've got the topic mastered.

We trust that lunch was enjoyable.
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