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Subject: Rules to avoid the caravan strategy rss

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Gustavo Vazquez
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Recently I have bought Yspahan and for a while it was a good game to play. But then I discovered the “caravan strategy”... I guess it's redundant to explain, as everybody knows about it by now, but anyway: I place a cube on the corner of the barrel and a cube on the corner of the vase/sack. Then with the Hammam + the Caravensai I have a undefeatable combo. I used to win/loose by two, five, fifteen points – today I was playing with my wife and the game was in the THIRD day of the THIRD week and I already have the double of her points (90+). It was as boring as you can get. robot

I'll be frank: this situation brought tears to our eyes. We would never play the game again until we find a way to avoid it. You see, I hate house rules – I believe the game should be played exactly as the designer planned it. If I make house-rules, I'll fell as I'm cheating, somehow, by not following the essence of the game. But I guess Yspahan is broken, and it must be fixed... soblue

Just to emphasize the situation, before I got the “caravan strategy” I've played the game with newbies now and then and sometimes I have lost. You see, this is a sign of a great game – when newbies could win. Because otherwise you need to be an expert, you need to have an strategy... the owner of the game will always have an upper hand. Well, since I learnt about the “caravan strategy”, I have never lost again. The only way to play this game now is everyone using the same strategy – nobody caring about souks, just about the dreadful caravan. devil

As I stated above, I don't like house-rules... and when I need to invent one, I like them to be simple. What do you think about this: I tought maybe we could keep playing if we consider the corner of the barrel as touching just one square of the road (left) and the corner of the sack as touching just the upper square (they are the places where the doors in the drawing are, so it's easy to remember). The corner of the vase could touch two squares, it wouldn't make a difference.

Not only – I think we need to add one of the new rules of the “Ystari box”: you must move the supervisor at least one square to activate his power. In fact I believe the original rules should be read that way. It says: “If the supervisor's movement ends beside one or several shops... the cubes in those shops are (...) sent to the caravan”.

Yes, you use gold coins or the Hammam to keep him on the same square: “as a consequence, it is possible not to move him at all (by reducing his movement to 0)”.

Ok, see if you follow the logic:
1. You must move the supervisor to send the cubes to the caravan
2. You can “not move him at all”
Conclusion: If you don't move, the cubes are not sent

Or:

A = move
B = ends movement besides shop with cube
C = cube to the caravan

So,

1. (A & B)=C
2. not A
Conclusion. not C

A new way to read the same words...

So, with those two new rules, maybe the game can be fun again... I don't think the other new rules from the “Ystari Box” would help – with my variations the one for caravanserai would be useless (two cubes sent = one card drawn), and the “draw two, keep one” would even help somebody in the “caravan strategy”.

By the way, I'm sure the new cards were made to fix the problems with the “caravan strategy” and bring the game back to the souks.

So, I would appreciate your opinion about this... As I told before, I want a game to enjoy, to play with anybody – I don't want to be the winner every time I play. Or be part of a crazy camel race orangecamel caravancaravangrapecamel
 
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Sebastian
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I feel the same way about house rules as you do: Don't wanna!
But I also see, that if you play this game with experienced players the situation where one person has a cube in both souks wich can be "caravaned" from the same place will almost never occur.
If one player places one of his cubes there, usually the other players will do all they can to keep him from placing the other of the pair as well (at least if he has the Caravansai).
 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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vazquezramos wrote:
... today I was playing with my wife and the game was in the THIRD day of the THIRD week and I already have the double of her points (90+). ...

By my calculations achieving this high a score this early in the game requires nearly everything I can think of to cooperate with you. Cards, dice, even the other player. If you find yourself routinely achieving this score at this point, you might want to check for a rules error. Between 60 and 70 points would be more realistic.

That said, a pure caravan strategy is a valid way to play the game, but with more experienced players very easy to block as well. If the other player places a cube on the lower left or ideally the lower right of the 'double exit' buildings, then you are hurt quite severely: you must expend actions to get rid of them, and the other player gets into the caravan as well. Your point per action ratio drops very rapidly to the point where other strategies are very viable. I'll concede that with two players it's easier to force the other to respond to what you're doing, but I certainly wouldn't go as far as to houserule the overseer as a consequence.
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Gustavo Vazquez
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cymric wrote:
vazquezramos wrote:
... today I was playing with my wife and the game was in the THIRD day of the THIRD week and I already have the double of her points (90+). ...

By my calculations achieving this high a score this early in the game requires nearly everything I can think of to cooperate with you. Cards, dice, even the other player. If you find yourself routinely achieving this score at this point, you might want to check for a rules error. Between 60 and 70 points would be more realistic.


We were playing in two, so everyone had more turns than the usual (11 or 10 per week).
If I remember well, I began the second week with the Paddock, the Hammam and the Caravanserai, about 8 camels and some card, including the one that allows you to place a cube in a shop (I spent the first week just buying cards, money/camels and paying for buildings).
So, I used the first turn of the second week to place a cube on the corner of the barrell and using the card to place a cube on the corner of the vase. Then I spent almost the remaining 10 turns sending those two cubes to the caravan. As everytime I sent them I got two cards, I could keep a good quantity of camels (changing gold into camels every time it would be possible). As in a 2 players game the caravan is just 6 camels long, it was extremely fast to complete it twice, which gave me almost 50 points alone. (the other player just now and then sent her cubes to the caravan) - and I kept on sending the cubes...

Meanwhile, with the cards I was buying I could get the other buildings, so it was not that hard to get 90+ points in the middle of the third week. I know is something that would not happen often, but I think is possible in a 2-players game.

You see, when you have three players is easy to send the hammock away from the buildings in the corner - the two opponents combine to move it away. But with two players the chances are very slim (my opponent didn't have the Hammam, so it was almost impossible to send the supervisor away).

You see, the problem is the Caravanserai. The cards you buy are too powerful, is like you have a extra turn - you don't need to spend a turn buying camels or gold, the buildings are half price or free... you send cubes to the souks and caravan...

Anyway, I wrote a letter to Ystari about those problems and they wrote me back:

"the caravan strategy was a little bit powerful in order to make it more attractive (as beginners don't see its interest and neglect it).
But if you apply the ystari box new rules (described in your third paragraph), the game is very good. Don't let one player alone in the caravan (this is a piece of advice)."

Well...

 
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Sebastian
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vazquezramos wrote:
Meanwhile, with the cards I was buying I could get the other buildings, so it was not that hard to get 90+ points in the middle of the third week. I know is something that would not happen often, but I think is possible in a 2-players game.


You realize, that in 2-player Yspahahn you also need an action to build (it's not a free build after action as in 3 or 4 player).

But still I think a single player playing caravan will always win unless his opponents compete with him or try to block him.
 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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vazquezramos wrote:
If I remember well, I began the second week with the Paddock, the Hammam and the Caravanserai, about 8 camels and some card, including the one that allows you to place a cube in a shop (I spent the first week just buying cards, money/camels and paying for buildings).

This numbers of this scenario defy belief. You have built 3 buildings at that time, taking up 3 of the 11 actions. If memory serves me, building these costs 7 camels and 5 gold. That leaves you 8 actions to hoard 15 camels, 3 gold (you start out with 2), and a few cards. Cards are one action each, the gold takes at least one action, and you cannot have obtained camels on every action as your opponent will have taken some, too. Using cards at this point slows you down in the future, as they will not get back into the draw pile until it has been exhausted.


Conceivable, yes. Probable, absolutely not.
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Steve Duff
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I believe Maarten is right. As always, I recommend posting a detailed session report, and then those familiar with the game can point out any rules errors / misinterpretations, etc.
 
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Gustavo Vazquez
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cymric wrote:
This numbers of this scenario defy belief. You have built 3 buildings at that time, taking up 3 of the 11 actions. If memory serves me, building these costs 7 camels and 5 gold. That leaves you 8 actions to hoard 15 camels, 3 gold (you start out with 2), and a few cards. Cards are one action each, the gold takes at least one action, and you cannot have obtained camels on every action as your opponent will have taken some, too. Using cards at this point slows you down in the future, as they will not get back into the draw pile until it has been exhausted.


Conceivable, yes. Probable, absolutely not.


Hi!

Well, maybe I'm doing something wrong, because yesterday I've played using my variants (they worked out great. my wife won by 102 to 100) and I finish the first week more or less the same. So, to avoid keep on the same mistakes that maybe I'm doing, I'll write what happened.

day 1) The other player began. I bought a card.
d2) Bought camels (3) // built paddock
d3) card
d4) camels (3+1) // built shop
d5) money (2+2)
d6) money (4+2) // built caravanserai
d7) card

One of my cards was the "exchange". I exchanged all my money for camels during week 2, so I could keep the caravan suplied for a long time. As we were playing wth my variations, the barrell corner just touched one square. But even if I was using the old rule, with 6 camels or more in the beggining of the second week is easy to keep the blocks on the board. The chance you get the "3 x camels" card or get a good number of camels on the tower at least once is high (or even get another exchange card, so you buy the coins +2 and change them all for camels).

I can write a detailed report in the future, I guess... but I don't know, maybe I'm doing something wrong.
 
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Gustavo Vazquez
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TermiGator wrote:

You realize, that in 2-player Yspahahn you also need an action to build (it's not a free build after action as in 3 or 4 player).

But still I think a single player playing caravan will always win unless his opponents compete with him or try to block him.


Just to make things more clear, I know that we need to spend a action to build.

Nonetheless, I agreed completely with your second statement and I think it's important to warn that in the game were I've won by double of my wife's points (in fact we gave up before the ending, it was useless to keep on playing), she was completely unaware of the "caravan strategy". Only after the first complete caravan she began sending her own cubes to the caravan to block me - but I had the hammam/caravanserai (she had not), enough camels (she had spent almost every one on buildings - bazaar and hoist, she was thinking only about building the souks) and the corner barrel/vase (she could send the cubes only one by one).
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Gustavo Vazquez
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Well... I wrote a session, as asked...

It was very tiresome... it's not that easy writing so much in another language...

Well, I hope it satisfies the unbelievers. I believe a better player could get more than 90 points even before that.

And, for me, I'm through and out... arrrh Let move on to another game...
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Aaron Cappocchi
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Maarten, the score numbers are low, if anything.

In a 2-player game with one person successfully executing this strategy, a score of 150 or more points is not only possible, but common.
 
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Joe
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vazquezramos wrote:
Well, maybe I'm doing something wrong, because yesterday I've played using my variants (they worked out great. my wife won by 102 to 100) and I finish the first week more or less the same. So, to avoid keep on the same mistakes that maybe I'm doing, I'll write what happened.

day 1) The other player began. I bought a card.
d2) Bought camels (3) // built paddock
d3) card
d4) camels (3+1) // built shop
d5) money (2+2)
d6) money (4+2) // built caravanserai
d7) card


Yes, you are doing something wrong here. As termingator and cymric already mentioned, in the 2-player game, constructing a building is its own action by itself, not an optional "free" action that can be done in addition to a regular action.

A corrected version of your week's actions would be more like this:

d1) card
d2) camels (3)
d3) build paddock
d4) card
d5) camels (3+1)
d6) shop
d7) money (2+2)

You can see that you cannot get as much accomplished in a week when you play with this rule correctly.
 
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Steve Duff
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Nope, he's right, in the two player game one player gets two actions a day, then it alternates next day.

In the actual session report, the other player pretty much lets him do whatever he wants, so that's really the big factor here.
 
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Nope, he's right, in the two player game one player gets two actions a day, then it alternates next day.

In the actual session report, the other player pretty much lets him do whatever he wants, so that's really the big factor here.


Ahh, yeah, I totally forgot that the active player goes twice! My bad.

Having an incompetent/pushover opponent helps for sure.
 
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Gustavo Vazquez
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dedbob wrote:
UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Nope, he's right, in the two player game one player gets two actions a day, then it alternates next day.

In the actual session report, the other player pretty much lets him do whatever he wants, so that's really the big factor here.


Ahh, yeah, I totally forgot that the active player goes twice! My bad.

Having an incompetent/pushover opponent helps for sure.


ninja

Hehehe...

Yes, yes, I must repeat we're supposing the other player is a newbie. I will give you the facts: everytime I play this game with newbies, I tell them: "Look, with the rules as they are, I'll win. It'll be a massacre. So let's play with some home-made rules, ok, until everyone understand the game."
 
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andrea melegari
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I have the same feeling about the game..love it but the caravan strategy in some way breaks it..after several plays i think the better house rule is:
-you cannot send more then one cube to the caravan per turn
-you cannot save the cube spending camels

I think this rule is necessary to make the game enjoyable specially ina 2p game when blocking the caravan strategy can be much nore difficult then in 3 and 4 p.
 
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