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

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Michael Hines
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Honestly, I don't have a problem with the starvation players. Although I have had no luck with that strategy, if you can make it work, why not use it? What seems to work for me in these games is to block the starved player from getting points. By doing this, they are ultimately just digging themselves deeper into negative points.

About 1st turn Mistress in St. Pete, it is really tough to beat.It is a money management game; if they have maintained 18 rubles by the Noble phase, good for them. I got a Mistress 1st turn in my last game and only won by 8 points. You spend the next few rounds trying to recover for coughing up 18 rubles in round 1.
 
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David desJardins
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R3sp4wN wrote:
I got a Mistress 1st turn in my last game and only won by 8 points. You spend the next few rounds trying to recover for coughing up 18 rubles in round 1.

No, I spend the next few rounds chortling about how I'm sure to win.

After playing with the New Society expansion, I can't imagine ever playing the original game again. It is just so much better, for several reasons but especially this one.
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Tony Chen
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Quitting is poor sport, period.

Besides, the starvation strategy sucks anyways. It is very situational and if a player can pull it off (it's not easy) then he deserves the win.

If you are losing to starvation strategy every single time it is played then maybe you should just quit the game (like, altogether. Not halfway through other people's games.)
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Eric Phillips
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David,

You're right about discontinuous payoffs and their role in games, but the one in Stone Age goes waaaay beyond a stair-step curve. 8 guys with 7 food get the same penalty as 8 guys with no food? And it kills the theme, too. Here I am slaving to feed my people, which is pretty darn important, and I'm barely getting by, and there's this other chap who is completely ignoring food and suffering no ill effects that can't be remedied by the fact that his hungry, hungry workers are developing more culture than mine. I've heard of the "starving artist," but I don't think that works at the level of an entire tribe.
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David desJardins
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Fortuna wrote:
You're right about discontinuous payoffs and their role in games, but the one in Stone Age goes waaaay beyond a stair-step curve. 8 guys with 7 food get the same penalty as 8 guys with no food?

I understand. You know the game better than I do, I am not contesting your opinion. Discontinuities are not bad, but it is generally going to be difficult to balance a game when you have two totally distinct strategies, e.g., enough food or no food.
 
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Eric Phillips
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crambaza wrote:
Would you prefer me to reword the rules for you, but give the exact same gameplay result?

No, not really. What's the point of setting a game in the Stone Age and modeling a hunter-gather society that is just beginning to develop agriculture, if you don't need to hunt, gather, or grow anything to survive? If all you're concerned about is gameplay, then maybe you won't understand my complaint, but this is a crime against theme in a game that is otherwise nicely themed.
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Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
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Fortuna wrote:
What's the point of setting a game in the Stone Age and modeling a hunter-gather society that is just beginning to develop agriculture, if you don't need to hunt, gather, or grow anything to survive? If all you're concerned about is gameplay, then maybe you won't understand my complaint, but this is a crime against theme in a game that is otherwise nicely themed.

Fair point, but this is a game called Stone Age in which you can collect metal.
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Eric Phillips
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Salo sila wrote:
Fair point, but this is a game called Stone Age in which you can collect metal.

If I'm remembering correctly, the pictures on the board suggest that you are panning for gold, not mining it. So I don't think I have a problem with that.
 
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Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
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Fortuna wrote:
Salo sila wrote:
Fair point, but this is a game called Stone Age in which you can collect metal.

If I'm remembering correctly, the pictures on the board suggest that you are panning for gold, not mining it. So I don't think I have a problem with that.

I think the transition out of stone age takes place when people start working metals, and it is less of a question of where you get them from. As you are "converting" gold into something (respresented by VPs) you are presumably working it.
 
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Guy Steuperaert
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Actually as far as i know.
Stone age means that most tools where made of stone and the made use of clay for pottery.
The bronze ages starts when the use of metal was widespread and was used to make tools, also they need to have found out how to make bronze before being able to use it.
They did find and somewhat use metal in the stone age but tools were mostly made of stone. Finding gold to decorate and not really as a tool is not against the spirit. On the conterary it would mean it was even more special in those days. When i see a hut full of gold i mostly see it as a normal hut made with straw and clay but highly decorated with gold.

I know this is not totally correct but its doable enough for me


off course i could be totally wrong, in that case i still enjoy the game for what it is.
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DK Kemler
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Why is Stone Age the only Euro that people treat like a simulation? How does real life ever even inter into the discussion?
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degamer wrote:
Why is Stone Age the only Euro that people treat like a simulation? How does real life ever even inter into the discussion?

This was kind of my point.
 
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Eric Phillips
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degamer wrote:
Why is Stone Age the only Euro that people treat like a simulation?

It isn't. But it might be the only game, Euro or otherwise, that implements food and then allows you to thrive while starving for centuries.
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Jos
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i think maybe "starving" may refer to just being very hungry and not necessarily death-inducing.

come to think of it, i just woke up and i'm starving.

eh.. tribes that don't hunt nor farm will not have very much food nor very great food, but they WILL eat something. dead squirrel here, random edible weeds there. it's not a dependable strategy but some may choose it over sweating over crops or running down wildebeast..
 
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John Kerr
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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 that needs 10?

Perhaps the theme justification is that, as the tribe leader, you take a hit to your reputation if you have to go 'begging' for food. The hit to your credibility as leader is the same regardless if you have to beg for 1 food or 10... what kind of leader can't take care of the whole tribe??
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Tim Gilberg
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johnkerr wrote:

Perhaps the theme justification is that, as the tribe leader, you take a hit to your reputation if you have to go 'begging' for food. The hit to your credibility as leader is the same regardless if you have to beg for 1 food or 10... what kind of leader can't take care of the whole tribe??

That's not bad.

The main problem here is that changing the hit to a lost guy or a loss of points per guy basically supercharges what is already an almost automatic pick. Take farm. Every time. It also makes a very clear losing position evident--be player 4. At least three extra turns of needing more food without a possible alternative? Thanks for playing.

Note that no one seems to have a problem with farms not taking workers to maintain, thematically.
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Eric Phillips
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bleus wrote:
eh.. tribes that don't hunt nor farm will not have very much food nor very great food, but they WILL eat something. dead squirrel here, random edible weeds there. it's not a dependable strategy but some may choose it over sweating over crops or running down wildebeast..

That's the gathering part of "hunting and gathering," and it's already modeled by sending people out to the countryside to find food. The small food tokens, remember, have pictures of berries on them. The gathering that could be done by stumbling over things in the immediate vicinity of the village wouldn't keep people eating for long.

johnkerr wrote:
Perhaps the theme justification is that, as the tribe leader, you take a hit to your reputation if you have to go 'begging' for food. The hit to your credibility as leader is the same regardless if you have to beg for 1 food or 10... what kind of leader can't take care of the whole tribe??

That's not bad, but I was replying to the designer's explanation of where the invisible food comes from--from trade, he said. Also, I think begging to support an entire tribe would be even less feasible than supposing that neolithic trade could provide a whole tribe with enough food to live on.

Gilby wrote:
Note that no one seems to have a problem with farms not taking workers to maintain, thematically.

I think that's because getting all your food from hunting and gathering is so far from being a viable strategy that there's no constituency to be upset by the fact that the "agriculture players" get food all game from a one-time outlay of labor. But this is still much easier to explain than the starving strategy. First, it models the fact that agriculture was a more efficient and reliable method of food production. The efficiency ratio obviously can't be right if it's X:0, but we're talking about a game where the largest population you can have is 10 units. You can't split meeples. Second, most of the farming could be done (and was done) by the members of the tribe (the young, the old, and most of the women) who were less likely to range far afield hunting elk and felling trees.
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Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist
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Fortuna wrote:
You're right about discontinuous payoffs and their role in games, but the one in Stone Age goes waaaay beyond a stair-step curve. 8 guys with 7 food get the same penalty as 8 guys with no food?

That serves to differentiate "planning to fail" from "failing to plan". Intending to feed your people and failing to have enough food to do so is very bad, as then you've spent effort accumulating resources that aren't getting you any payoff. Not intending to feed your people at all, however, opens up a new direction in strategic space where your valuations for things change dramatically from those of the default strategy precisely because you're replacing a linear cost with a flat one.

For someone like me who likes a very broad strategic space, this is what makes the game. If there were only one strategy, with any deviation from it leading to a drop in efficiency, then I would lose interest in the game within five to ten plays. (That's my problem with Power Grid; it's a deep-but-narrow game all about who executes the one strategy as best as possible, with little to no chance of employing crazy gambits and doing unexpected things that are actually beneficial.) Instead, we have a strategic space with local maxima, but the spaces in between them are inefficient, requiring a player to choose a strategy and implement it. This sort of strategic diversification is why I love games like Puerto Rico, special-player-power setups like Dune, and the hugest strategic space ever of Magic: the Gathering.
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Alex Rockwell
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The starvation strategy is not very good, and really only works in 4 player. Why are people so obsessed with complaining about this strategy that doesnt even work well?

Yes it is true that it can win, however it is more limited and easier to counter than other strategies. You are putting yourself at a disadvantage by playing it. Additionally, if fails completely when more than one player tries it, becuase you compete over the growth space too much. Lets not forget also that using this strategy helps your opponents improve their positions, because you give them greater access to the farm space, which is the most efficient upgrade.


Second, I think people would complain less about this if it wasnt badly themed. When you are down by 1-2 food, and you lose resources instead, you are clearly trading for food. In the 'starvation' strategy you pay 10 points for food. You could easily theme this as trading SOMETHING for food, or perhaps theme it as your people raiding for their food (which makes it hard for them to have a well-cultured civilization, if you represent points as culture).
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Dale Prather
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I think some read too far into the theme of a game. Granted it's nice for the theme to be realistic just as we want our movies to be realistic, but only up to a certain point.

But, to each their own. If you choose games based on their themes, no problem. IMO, game mechanics are far more important in a game than the theme. Themes are nice and pretty, but the mechanics/game play is where the meat is. I'd sacrifice a few thematic inconsistencies for superior game play and strategy.

And to the OP, if they're playing by the rules, it's all good. It really irks me when I play a game with someone and they lay down a bunch of house rules (restrictions) because it doesn't jive with their strategy. That's a lousy unadaptive gamer IMO.
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Eric Phillips
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santiago wrote:
For someone like me who likes a very broad strategic space, this is what makes the game.

Your post is very well expressed. I can see where you are coming from. I just can't appreciate this particular broadening of strategic space because it makes no sense. It's kind of like having a wargame in which you can avoid losing territory or resources--and just lose some points instead--if you declare yourself a pacifist.

dale12 wrote:
If you choose games based on their themes, no problem. IMO, game mechanics are far more important in a game than the theme.

What I'm looking for is the intersection of the two: mechanics that implement a theme in an elegant and clever way.
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Dale Prather
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Fortuna wrote:
What I'm looking for is the intersection of the two: mechanics that implement a theme in an elegant and clever way.

This raises a question in my mind. Is game play designed around a theme or is a theme designed around game play?
 
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Eric Phillips
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dale12 wrote:
This raises a question in my mind. Is game play designed around a theme or is a theme designed around game play?

It happens both ways, for sure. Sometimes you can tell which direction a game arrived from by its flaws. If the theme seems tacked on, it's probably an abstract masquerading as a game about something. If the mechanics aren't efficient and straightforward, or the rules contain a lot of exceptions, you probably have the opposite problem: a designer who is much more concerned with theme than how the game will play. But when I see a successful marriage of theme and mechanics, I always assume the theme came first, but the designer also demanded good, elegant gameplay. I guess it could happen the other way around too, but my mind doesn't work that way.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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dale12 wrote:
Fortuna wrote:
What I'm looking for is the intersection of the two: mechanics that implement a theme in an elegant and clever way.

This raises a question in my mind. Is game play designed around a theme or is a theme designed around game play?

It can happen both ways. If a game has a good, well integrated theme, then often the theme should inspire mechanics and items in the game. A mechanic can also exist, and then a thematic element be found to match it. Both of these can work well.

However, sometimes there isnt much connection between the theme and mechanics, and the theme feels tacked on. To me this isnt a very good way to design a game.
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Sean Todd
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How about this for theme application: you're not literally starving your people, you're asking them to both gather food and collect resources by rolling gigantic dice across the prairie. They pick up some mushrooms while in the forest and work an extra four hours because of it. You could think of it as a 10 point bonus that the other tribes get each turn from having their evenings free to sing around the campfire.
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