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Subject: Boycot Stone Age's 'Starvation Strategy' rss

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Rik Van Horn
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Personally I boycott playing the game no matter the strategy.
It's tedious however it's played.
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Occu Pant
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TheJeff wrote:
I am a Stone Age fan and I play it quite often on BSW.
The starvation strategy that some players are using systematicaly bothers me a lot.
I am sure that the game designer didn't had any idea that this could happen and the strategy is against the spirit of the game.
A lot of new players are disquisted when they are opposed to a Starvation Strategy player and I admit that I almost stop playing the game because of the strategy.
Therefore, when I meet a SS player, I stop playing saying :"Sorry, but I don't play against a Starvation Strategy player..." I would advize everyone to do the same....

TheJeff
If you quit any game in the middle, you would be banned from my table. Now, if you announce before the game starts that you do not want to play against players that use a certain strategy, that would be fine.
Doesn't BSW have a function that permits players to report other players that frequently quit games in the middle? Aren't you worried that you will be banned from BSW?
I typically tell players before games start that I am a slow player and that ttttt will not do much for them other than wear out the "t" key on their keyboard. If they then choose not to play with me, that is fine with me as I will end up enjoying the game more with players that are not trying to set a land speed record.
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Werner Bär
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TheJeff wrote:
I am sure that the game designer didn't had any idea that this could happen and the strategy is against the spirit of the game.
Sorry, you're wrong.
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norman rule
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Werbaer wrote:
TheJeff wrote:
I am sure that the game designer didn't had any idea that this could happen and the strategy is against the spirit of the game.
Sorry, you're wrong.

Can you cite something to support this?

I'm not a big fan of Stone Age, but I agree that starvation strategy seems very contrary to the theme of the game.
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It's supported by the designer since it's included in the rules that you can forfeit feeding your tribe in any turn, at a cost of taking a 10 VP penalty.

If it was not allowed by the designer, the rules would say that you need 2 foods by member each turn. End of the line.

Perfectly clear to me.
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Werner Bär
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mrorwell wrote:
Can you cite something to support this?
A text (german) by the designer on the publishers site.

"Zuerst möchte ich sagen, dass es von mir als Autor und von den Testgruppen als 'Co-Autoren' durchaus gewollt war, diese Strategie als Alternative zu anderen Strategien zuzulassen. Schließlich spielt StoneAge in einer Zeit, in der sich der Handel und überhaupt die Arbeitsteilung rasant entwickelt hat. Es war also, wenn ich die archäologische Literatur nur ein wenig verstanden habe, durchaus möglich, ohne Ackerbau und Jagd zu überleben. Dies sollte sich auch im Spiel wiederfinden. "

First i want to say it was intended (by me as the author, and by the test groups as 'co-authors') to allow this strategy as an alternative to other strategies. After all, Stone Age takes place at a time when trading and division of labour were rapid developing. If i understand the archeological literature at least a little bit, it was definitely possible to survive without farming or hunt. This should be reflected in the game".
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Chazar
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mrorwell wrote:
Werbaer wrote:
TheJeff wrote:
I am sure that the game designer didn't had any idea that this could happen and the strategy is against the spirit of the game.
Sorry, you're wrong.

Can you cite something to support this?

Sure, just look at the publisher/creator's homepage:
http://www.hans-im-glueck.de/147.0.html

This is of course in German, but you can probably try Google Translate on it.

In essence the author himself states that he explicitly wanted that strategy to be a viable alternative, and that they exhaustively tested alternatives, such as one Meeple dying, and eventually agreed on the 10 point penalty. He then continues to discuss why this is a reasonable mechanic and why he wanted that alternative to be viable.



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B
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Boycott a valid game strategy ? Wouldn't it be better to try come up with something that will beat it instead ?

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Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
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Personally, I'm in favour of boycotting any game in which my opponent tries to win. The scoundrel!
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B B
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2265754#2265754
 
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DK Kemler
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And when you start loosing to a fields or hut strategy, I'm sure you'll be asking people to boycott them as well.
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Shane Is Board
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So instead of adapting and overcoming and becoming a better player, you'll pick up your toys and go home?

As someone else said, if you announce it before the game, although I disagree with your view that's acceptable, however to quit mid game is ridiculous and on top of that damned rude and immature.
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Justin Moore
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I acknowledge the legitimacy of the strategy, but I think the penalty isn't severe enough. I think if you can't feed your people you should lose a meeple instead of losing points.
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John Clark
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What's wrong with Starvation? Its a valid strategy. Early on there were mutterings that it was too strong but I doubt there are too many who still think that it is. I sometimes starve but mostly don't. However, if I am going fourth in a four-player game then I will strongly consider starvation.

Given that it has been demonstrated that the designer did intend it, will you now play against it?

Starvation requires two things to work - building up population early and then making the game go as long as possible to maximise points. There are two main strategies against starvation - slow down the population growth by having babies yourself and ending the game fast by running down a pile of huts.
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Craig Liken
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Personally I find the starvation strategy somewhat contrary to the theme of the game, although the designers comments on this aspect (which I hadn't heard before) are interesting. I had read though that it had been thorougly tested so from that aspect I don't have a problem with it.

It can be a strong ploy, but it is certainly not unbeatable as others have already indicated. For a start, the "farm" seems to be generally acknowledged as the most useful/important of the village options - the starvation player has no use for it, so this option should be more freely available to the other players (thereby reducing their hunting requirements and freeing up actions for them). Another useful ploy would have to be competing hard for the "Shaman" bonuses - the starvation player will likely want these (and they aren't exactly a waste of time for the other players either even if you only get to 6 or 7 in your tribe).

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norman rule
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Werbaer wrote:
A text (german) by the designer on the publishers site.

Thanks for the link.
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John Bandettini
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Just beat the people who use the starvation strategy, the will soon stop using it.
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Eric Phillips
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The starving strategy might not be too strong for game balance (I'll defer to people with more experience on that), but it's certainly a heck of a lot stronger in the game than it would be in real life. Food isn't optional.
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norman rule
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teg2 wrote:
Boycott a valid game strategy ? Wouldn't it be better to try come up with something that will beat it instead ?

On the Days of Wonder forums, players constantly complain about blocking in Ticket to Ride.

In St Petersburg on BSW, players will quit games if another player gets a Mistress or an Observatory on the first round.

In Dominion, you have folks who won't play if the Chapel is in the mix.

There are even chess players who don't want to play if their opponent uses en passant or castling.

If you think a strategy or a move is unbeatable, you'll probably never find a way to beat it.
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David desJardins
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Fortuna wrote:
The starving strategy might not be too strong for game balance (I'll defer to people with more experience on that), but it's certainly a heck of a lot stronger in the game than it would be in real life. Food isn't optional.

Did you read the designer's comment? His point was that there were other ways to make up for lack of food in this period, the cost of which is represented in the game. Not that the people could survive without it altogether.

"Starvation" is just a bad name for it. "Food shortfall" would be better.
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Eric Phillips
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Did you read the designer's comment? His point was that there were other ways to make up for lack of food in this period, the cost of which is represented in the game.

Yeah, but I don't buy it. First, I don't think neolithic trade was developed to the extent that it could have supplied large quantities of staple foods. Second, assuming for the sake of argument that trade is sufficient and that the "starvers" are selling the fruits of culture (vps) for food, why does a culture that needs 1 food unit need to pay the same as a culture that needs 10?
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You can't handle the truth?
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Fortuna wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
Did you read the designer's comment? His point was that there were other ways to make up for lack of food in this period, the cost of which is represented in the game.

Yeah, but I don't buy it. First, I don't think neolithic trade was developed to the extent that it could have supplied large quantities of staple foods. Second, assuming for the sake of argument that trade is sufficient and that the "starvers" are selling the fruits of culture (vps) for food, why does a culture that needs 1 food unit need to pay the same as a culture than needs 10?

Would you prefer me to reword the rules for you, but give the exact same gameplay result?

"At the end of each turn, your tribe has automatically scrounged up enough food to survive, barely. If you can feed your tribe 1 food and/or 1 resource per member, you gain a bonus of 10 points, because of the great festival!"

There you go, now having a little extra food gets you 10 extra points than those who don't.

Game on!
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mrorwell wrote:


I'm not a big fan of Stone Age, but I agree that starvation strategy seems very contrary to the theme of the game.

What??? Starvation was not a consederation in the Stone Age?
I believe that is an incorrect assumption.

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Todd McCorkle
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I don't feel like repeating my standard rant on the subject. I'll try something different this time, attacking other "unthematic" elements of the game that no one seems to have a problem with....

How are you able to block me from this seemingly infinitely large forest? What weird geometry allows only 7 guys to swing axes, but somehow never runs out of wood?

There's only 1 breeding hut, and it's "occupied" right now. NO BABY FOR YOU!

Woo-Hoo! Check out my solid gold hut! Stylin!


That's enough silliness for now. I also wanted to agree with the rudeness of quitting mid-game. Others have mentioned that if you mentioned your problems with the "point-eating" strategy(1) before hand things would be different. With me, I would just look at you blankly for a moment and then put the game away and try something else.


(1) Ack! Couldn't resist once...
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David desJardins
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Fortuna wrote:
Second, assuming for the sake of argument that trade is sufficient and that the "starvers" are selling the fruits of culture (vps) for food, why does a culture that needs 1 food unit need to pay the same as a culture than needs 10?

Yeah, that is a different question. Why do many games have discontinuous payoffs when we all know that in real life returns or probabilities generally vary smoothly? Why, in Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, do you get much better results when you attack with 2 times the defender's strength than when you attack with 1.99 times the defender's strength? Most games have discontinuities like this. I think it doesn't contribute to the simulation aspect, but it can make for a much better game. One crucial aspect of a good game is that the "fitness landscape" (i.e., the spectrum of possible payoffs for the different moves you might choose) is (1) complex enough that it's hard to choose the best move (otherwise the game is too trivial), and (2) discontinuous enough that just getting "near" to the best move isn't nearly as good as finding the best move (because then you don't really see any difference in game results between playing well enough to find the best moves, and just getting somewhere close enough). So, in my view, the primary reason for discontinuous payoffs in games that model phenomena that in real life would have continuous payoffs (in addition to playability, which is sometimes a factor) is to complicate the fitness landscape to make the game more interesting to play and reward skill better.
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