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The Pillars of the Earth» Forums » Variants

Subject: 2 player, fewer MB spots rss

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Eric
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Pillars is one of my family's favorites. However, when my girlfriend and I have played just the two of us, we have found that there is significantly less tension during the master builder (MB) placement phase, simply because there are so many spots to choose from. So, we devised this 2-player variant together:

-The Priory only has the 2 point spot.

-Shiring only has one spot; when you place a MB there, you get your choice of the two craftsmen for that round.

-Kingsbridge similarly only has one spot; you get your choice of the two privilege cards for that round.

-Finally, we discard 3 resource cards per round rather than the normal 2 (although I've seen that mentioned around here before).

We use the the VP/gold discs of other colors (usually orange and white, from the expansion) to cover up those three MB spots to help remind us that they are not in play.


We've played around 7 or 8 games this way, and it really improves the game for us. Craftsmen and privilege cards aren't taken for granted anymore (which seems to be the case with 2), and Prior Phillip gets a much-needed (but only slight) decrease in power.


I hope this variant helps out others who love Pillars but don't always have 2 or 3 other people to play with.
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Gordon Adams
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Good variant Eric.

I mostly play two-player games and end up having to make variants for games that have 3 plus players.

We have been playing this game for quite a little while now and it is rather good with two players (providing for the proviso as mentioned above), but I do feel that expansions will not be added in my home. The basic game will suffice

Regards.
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Eric
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Thanks, Gordon. I agree about the expansion - I own it, and it's nice to be able to play with 5 or 6, but I definitely play with only the basic with 2-4 players.
 
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Steve Duff
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This worked really nicely. thumbsup
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Eric
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Glad to hear it, Steven! Pillars is a great game, and I'm happy to help it see a little more 2P play.
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Eric
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The reason for the 6 resource + 2 craftsman (rather than 7+2) setup is to increase potential competition for resources. For example, if Player 1 has a Mason or two, and Player 2 has a good sculptor, both players will likely get at least one stone card with little effort round-to-round. This is not the case with 3/4 players, where your first pick seems to matter more (deciding between a resource you need, a craftman you want, blocking an opponent's resource, or getting an efficient card or a card with a good gold payout in the marketplace, etc).

Admittedly, it is likely a relatively small difference, but I think it is worthwhile to include.

As for revealing no cards of a given resource, I honestly consider that to be a slight downside. When I first started playing this way, I would randomize the cards thusly:

-Separate the resource cards into wood, sand, and stone

-Pick 1 random card from each pile (1 wood, 1 sand, 1 stone)

-Shuffle the remaining cards together and pick 3 randomly, to make 6

However, it seemed like a little more trouble than it was worth (plus I forgot to do it sometimes), so we simply shrug and go to the marketplace if we get hosed on resources in a given round (as it is pretty rare).
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Richard Ham
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Hi there. Forgive my question if it's dumb, but in the interest of more closely replicating a 4 player competitive game, why don't you bring the number of available craftsmen down to five (or even four) instead of six? That would seem to more closely match the ratio of craftsmen : players that you get in a full game (7:4 for the full game is closer to 4:2 or 5:2 instead of 6:2). Also, to further match the 4p game, should half of the resources in the market be removed (only 2 of each available), I wonder, to emulate players competing for that as well?

Thanks for any suggestions you can give. I ask because I've never played 4p, and don't really have a frame of reference, but it would seem that going the extra mile here would be more "true to the full game", no?
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Eric
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Richard:

I don't quite get what you are saying about the craftsmen - in a normal round, there are 2 craftsmen set next to the resources, and 2 set on the board. If you have the expansion that provides 2 extra craftsmen for each round, there are technically 6 to choose from, but 2 remain unused each round. I tried to limit the acquiring of craftsmen by making that spot on the board only available to 1 player each round, so that a maximum of 3 craftsmen can be gained in one round.

As for the market idea, it seems like halving the resources there would make it almost an unplayable spot - if I am forced to go there once or twice in a 2P game, it's usually to make a big move. If I could only get 2 of any given resource, I think that would hurt any gold-rich strategy that the woodworker can provide.

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Richard Ham
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oops, sorry, i meant workers, not craftsmen modest

with the market, in a 4p game, on average how many resources do players pull out of there? is it not a contested area normally?
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Steve Duff
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The actual worker math:

4 players, 48 workers combined (12 workers each & large one is worth 5), 9 cards to choose from, 6.86 workers per card available.

3 players, 36 workers, 7 cards, 5.14 per card.

2 players 24 workers, 6 cards, 4 per card.

Not entirely sure what this means, but with the cards having fixed costs, I think taking away workers isn't going to help things, it might hurt the game.

I haven't seen much action in the market, reducing that area wouldn't change anything in our games.
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Jake Waltier
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
The actual worker math:

4 players, 48 workers combined (12 workers each & large one is worth 5), 9 cards to choose from, 5.33 workers per card available.

3 players, 36 workers, 9 cards, 4 per card.

2 players 24 workers, 8 cards, 3 per card.

Not entirely sure what this means, but with the cards having fixed costs, I think taking away workers isn't going to help things, it might hurt the game.

I haven't seen much action in the market, reducing that area wouldn't change anything in our games.


I thought you only use 7 of the 9 resource cards per round, or 8 with 5 players, or all 10 with 6 players (according to the expansion rules).
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Steve Duff
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You're right, I was adding in the two craftsman (7+2), forgetting they're not purchased with workers.
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Eric
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Richard:

-I think reducing the number of workers per player would perhaps change the game a bit too much - I honestly like the way the game plays with the changes I've made here.

-Regarding the marketplace: even with 4P, I rarely see any true competition in the marketplace, because it is usually a weaker spot. I think the simplest solution is to leave it the way it is.
 
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Richard Ham
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i finally got around to actually playing with your suggestions this weekend, and i take back everything i said above. it plays GREAT this way, really a huge improvement. thanks!
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JC GB
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Ummmh... Interesting variation of rules... Thank you, Eric

I´ll try today these 4 variations of the main rules and let´s see if it works...
Cheers!
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Eric
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Right, there are 9 resource (quarry/forest/gravel) cards, and 7 are normally available each round (in other words, you 'discard' or set aside 2 of them for any given round)

I try to increase competition for resources by only using 6 resource cards (that is, 'discarding' 3 of them) each round. This is probably the least important part of the variant, so if you don't like it, toss it.
 
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Steve Duff
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If the expansion is included, you still deal out the same number of cards for use (and have more left over). So, you'd use 6 of 10 each round.
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Eric
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Right, it's the number you're using, not the number dropped, that's important. Honestly, I don't think I ever use the resource card from the expansion unless I'm playing with 5 or 6 people anyway.
 
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Eric
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I never put too much thought into changing the Market before. Like you, I don't go there too often in a 2P game - usually not at all, sometimes once, and maybe twice if I happen to have multiple goldsmiths.

Changing the number of items that can be bought and sold could be problematic. The reason that removing a few MB spots is good is that with fewer players, there are less master builder placements, always.

However, just because there are fewer players does not mean that the need to buy/sell a resource at a given rate per round will decrease. On the occasions that I do end up going to the Market in a 2P game, it is to make a big play - buy 4 stone to supply my army of sculptors, or sell a pile of wood to finance my goldsmiths, etc. Limiting the market's selling/buying ability may simply make it worse, rather than tightening it.

I like your idea to give a bonus to the first person to place in the Market (or, equivalently, a penalty to those placing second) Here are some ideas:

-'First Sale is Best Sale': Bonus +1 gold for the first of each type to be sold each round (first person to sell the first wood/stone/sand/metal in a given round gets one additional gold)

'Rainy Day Investing': If you were the first player to place in the Market, you pay no more than 3 gold in taxes that round.

'Early Bird Deals': If you were the first in the Market, you may, as your first action in the Market, take one (and only one) cube of your choice for two less gold.

'Master Merchant': If you were the first in the Market, all craftsman that earn gold for you (Woodworker, Toolmaker, and Stonecutter from expansion) earn an additional gold each.

I have no idea how balanced these are, just thoughts about minor things that could make the Market a little more attractive. My guess is that doing anything to weaken the Market would be it a terrible spot, so I think a minor increase in strength is the way to go.
 
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Steve Duff
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ldsdbomber wrote:
The Market is still... unsatisfying in 2P, we dont use it much (maybe an error),


I found in our 4 player game that we hardly used it either. So, nothing's changed.

Have you played it 4 player much? Did it get used a lot there?

It always seems like a last resort area.
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Eric
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Metal availability is certainly an interesting idea. I agree on both your points, that 1) it should only be 1 metal per turn that can be purchased, and 2) it should be more expensive than its sale price (around 7 gold seems reasonable).

I might try this out next time I play.
 
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Jake Waltier
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Miner Cotren wrote:
Metal availability is certainly an interesting idea. I agree on both your points, that 1) it should only be 1 metal per turn that can be purchased, and 2) it should be more expensive than its sale price (around 7 gold seems reasonable).

I might try this out next time I play.

Even more than the cost of the metal, using the market costs a MB placement. I don't think metal would need to be any more expensive. You're giving up much more than 5 gold when you go to the market to buy metal for 5 gold.
 
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Eric
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That's a fair point, but

A) a decently large factor in the game is the scarcity of metal
B) the market could potentially have its normal value for the person going there

That being said, you could be absolutely right; unfortunately, I still haven't tried out any market variants discussed here yet (I keep forgetting to try when I play!) so I don't know how valid any of them are.
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Andy Andersen
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My wife and I just played this for the first two times in the past two days. We tried Eric's variant first and then played with the regular rules second.

We preferred the regular rules by a wide margin. We found that by removing options, it gave to big an advantage to a player in some instances.
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Steve Duff
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Orangemoose wrote:
We preferred the regular rules by a wide margin. We found that by removing options, it gave to big an advantage to a player in some instances.


What advantages and when? Was it turn order related?

With the variant, we found we actually used the "take the 1st player" spot. Without it, we never did.
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