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Great Wall of China» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Remarks about pacing, and a couple of questions. rss

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Ishai BD
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Hi,

(This post may fit under Strategy and Rules)

I just played my first game of GWoC yesterday and I liked it. For what it is (a balanced filler with simple rules) I think it's pretty good. From reading the rules and that first game, it occurred to me that in addition to balancing when to keep fighting for a row (raise) and when to fold (this, btw, already makes for hard decisions), one also needs to balance strength of attack and pacing of card playing.

Playing several cards at once can lead to a more forceful attack, but depleting more cards from your hand makes the game end closer and more likely to be one where you have no cards left, which can be devastating.

In a single turn a player takes two actions (these are the 2nd and 3rd actions in the rules that are played on top of just claiming tokens). An action can be either: (1) Playing 1 or more cards to a row OR (2) drawing 1 card.

In addition, Cavalry is played between actions, so playing Cavalry does not count as one of the two actions above.

Each player has 15 card draws and in principle 18 card plays (20 cards total, minus the 2 cavalry that don't count as actions). As a result if a player played 3 Walls at one point and played 3 Infantry at some other point then, given that the other players have always stuck with drawing or playing 1 card for any action, this player have paced themselves quite fast and are now 4 cards/actions short at game end.

I find this aspect and the already noted raise/fold dilemma to be the most interesting aspect of the game. The endgame while being potentially brutal when new tokens can get added and won once a player is already out, leads to this aspect being potentially even more important.

And now, a couple of questions (to verify that I've been playing correctly, and that there isn't some extra flexibility that I was not aware of):

1. Playing Cavalry must always be between actions, right?

Otherwise, one could slow the pace down (and play perhaps a less forceful attack) by playing Cavalry as one of the actions.

2. A player can never simply pass, right? Not even when their draw deck is empty and they would like to draw a card.

Sometimes, when a player's draw deck is empty they are forced to play cards to rows that they're already losing on, and passing - and hence slowing ones pace - would be a much better thing to do, if one had this option.


The way I see it Cavalry is always a non-action, and passing is not allowed, so in principle, if pacing is very important (more games will determine this), the only way to slow down is to avoid playing multiple cards at once, letting other players play two or three cards in a single action. When doing so, one then needs to balance playing as few cards as possible (to slow down) with still making strong enough opposition (where it counts).

Cheers,

Ishai
 
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Joe Gola
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You might have missed a rule. Under "Winning the Game":

"When one player has used up his play deck and played all his wall cards from his hand, he announces 'It is the last round!' All other players then take one more turn each."

This being the case, you don't want to play your cards too slowly, or you might not get to use all the influence available to you.
 
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Ishai BD
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Thanks for the reply, Joe. I did not miss that rule. I should have mentioned that as well. What I noticed and discussed is that running far ahead can be bad - which is why pacing is important, but of course, the other extreme needs to be avoided as well:

Running too slow, you risk losing fights you could have won with all the extra cards you have left.

I would guess the easier mistake to make is play too aggressively, i.e. pace your game too fast. (BTW, that's what I did in this first game.)

In a two player game if one is playing faster than the rest (i.e. the second player), then the second player is playing slower than the rest (i.e. the first player). Ignoring for a moment what the first player was able to win by the extra cards they played, and what the second player lost by not playing as aggressively, one can realize that the two extremes (playing fast and playing slow) are not exactly balanced:

If the second player still has 2 or 3 cards (3 including 1 Cavalry), then in their extra turn they may make a big surprise unopposed grab, perhaps even of new tokens if they're able to claim a 2nd token on a row at the start of their last turn.

It's only when the slow pacing player has many cards that can't be grouped, or that are too powerful (so that less powerful ones would suffice to win the same tokens) that their slower pacing is a mistake.

All of this adds, I believe, to what one needs to consider about the endgame. Of course, in reality, what I ignored above is a major part of the pacing decisions, as big enough wins early may justify playing fast.

In summary, pacing is an act of balance between, in principle, being able to grab more, or oppose more grab attempts, compared to ones opponents over the game (by playing faster), and avoiding (by playing slower) leaving the endgame for the other players, as this can be devastating.

I may be reading too much into this game given 1 game
 
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