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Subject: How long have games been taking? rss

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Adam O'Brien
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We played our first game the other night, and were astounded how quickly it went. Three players, all playing for the first time, and reading/explaining/re-reading the rules as we went, we were done in about an hour.

The bigger concern expressed was how short the game was in terms of game rounds. We finished in just 4 "years". The player that paid off his loans only took two at game start, took a third after year two, then was able to pay back 2 loans year three and the last one in year four. This was before year one harvested blue grapes even had time to mature!!

To be fair, the player that ended it did not win, but the poor guy in third ended with a negative score, having invested too heavily in the blue grapes that would not be able to payout (even had he thought to use the premature sale, he would have orbited around zero score). Our final scores were around:

Me - $31 (after 1 loan) (benefitted from 2 rich harvest tiles and the +3 market tile)
Kevin - $19 (paid off all loans)
Thomas - (-$3) I think he had 5 loans and 4 different vineyard tiles. And a lot of unsold blue wine.

We did not compete much in the auctions, deciding that getting something for $1 was often more valuable then up-bidding someone else, unless they really had bid on something good.

I am just concerned that if that is a typical game, that it wasn't engaging enough to be really worth it. What are other peoples' experiences?

 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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I think it's a mix of getting a few rules wrong, not bidding sufficiently competitive, and not keeping an eye out for the opponents. The reason I suspect rules errors is that it is very difficult to obtain sufficient cash in just two years to start paying off loans. It takes a considerable amount of actions to hike up the price of the wine; and the wines which mature rapidly don't become sufficiently valuable to raise that kind of money in such short notice. In other words: your game wasn't typical.
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Jeff Thornsen
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It sounds like you played a rather friendly game. After the first year, how many tiles did each player have? How many Actions did each year have?

If players are friendly, they will let each other buy tiles for cheap, and the first year will end with each player having 2-4 tiles each and several cubes of harvested wine. In this kind of scenario, the game ends quickly, because players cooperate and allow everyone to harvest lots of cubes every turn.

All it takes is for one player to end the year early, and suddenly the game will crawl. A Player with a single vineyard tile can end each year on the 4th Action - severely limiting what the other players can do on their turns. Once a player has their engine going, they should be trying and do this.

Players who diversify too much, or have lots of improvement tiles, shouldn't be given the necessary actions to use all of their stuff - otherwise they will be able to pay off their loans very quickly.


This game has a very large groupthink/metagame component. The game doesn't really shine until everyone is familiar with the rules and strategies.
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Ben
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I agree with the above posters. I suspect that too many of the players at the table were focused on accomplishing their own tasks, rather than recognizing and exploiting tempo-based advantages over other players. The game is entirely about relative, rather than absolute, positioning. Your approach to the auction also sounds extremely atypical.

The number of rounds and overall length of the game can vary wildly. I've had games as short as 45 minutes and some that ran just over two hours. In almost every game, however, it has been in someone's interest to end each round quickly (4-5 actions). Typically, this is the player who took out the most loans and who invests in the longest-maturing grapes.
 
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Adam O'Brien
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The player who ended the game started with 2 early green grape vinyards and also had the +$1 sales tile, so he was able to make $8/turn (minus the $2 harvest cost) each year once the market price went up, just from the two green vinyards. Because he was heavy into green, he didn't have to wait for the wine to mature, and he was also able to gain 3 prestige each round for selling the most greens, which in turn enabled him to up the market price at the wine fest without using regular actions.

After the first year, I think we all had 3 tiles. Actions were around 5-6 each year after the first (in which we were still feeling things out, we all used actions to raise market prices, buy tiles, etc.), until the last year when the guy trying to end the game harvested his vines faster. He also only had I think 3 vinyards total, so he could basically end it on the fourth action each round if he wanted to, and still be able to do a sale as his 3rd action (harvest, harvest, sell, harvest->end round)


I had the most diverse vinyard board, but as noted did not have enough actions to harvest all of them. I got into Green in year 3 just to break up the monopoly and at least cost him some prestige points (using my Rich harvest, we both could produce and sell 2 green cubes a year).

As for getting rules wrong, I really don't think so. We basically went through section by section of the rules as we played. And it is not an overly complicated game.
 
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J C Lawrence
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The player that ended the game did so knowing that he had lost and by a significant margin. That is Bad Play. Do not use examples of Bad Play to characterize "normal" games.
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Thomas Cowart
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Thomas here. Unfortunately, we did get rules pretty wrong. We hosed the auctions because we were playing that you had to take the action to claim something you were currently winning when your turn came back around. This mean there was very little up-bidding because there was always enough stuff to go around and people would just start auctions for something else.

The right auction rules would have this:
Me: start an auction on a blue vineyard at $3
Kevin: start an auction on a green vineyard at $1
Adam: start an auction on a special power at $1
Me: up-bid the special power to $4
Kevin: up-bid the special power to $5
Adam: up-bid the green to $4
etc.

Instead we played:
Me: start an auction on a blue vineyard at $3
Kevin: start an auction on a green vineyard at $1
Adam: start an auction on a special power tile at $1
Me: buy the blue vineyard for $3
Kevin: buy the green vineyard for $1
Adam: buy the special action for $1

This badly broke the auctions and thus the game. I'd like to try the game again with the correct auction rules (though I'm horrible at auctions so I probably won't do any better).
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Ben
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ggeorgemcfly wrote:
I'd like to try the game again with the correct auction rules (though I'm horrible at auctions so I probably won't do any better).

A key to the auctions in this game is to not waste actions bidding each other up. If, all things considered, you would pay no more than $5 for a tile, bid $5. If someone else bids $6, move on. If two players get into a bidding war, all the other players at the table benefit.
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Adam O'Brien
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clearclaw wrote:
The player that ended the game did so knowing that he had lost and by a significant margin. That is Bad Play. Do not use examples of Bad Play to characterize "normal" games.


I wasn't characterizing a "normal" game. In fact, the whole point of the thread was to see what others were experiencing in "normal" games.

And he said he ended the game that turn because he could see that I was going to increase my margin of victory in the next turn, based on the saleable wines in my cellar. Another turn would also have given Thomas a chance to get back into the game as he would have had some mature blue cubes to sell. Is it "Bad Play" to end the game in second place when one more round will likely put you in third, by a wider margin from first? Or are you arrogantly making blanket statements without full knowledge of the game state?

And I admit that we played the auctions wrong (as explained by Thomas above), which may have extended the game length. That is part of why I started the thread, to see what others have experienced. We will certainly play again with the auction correct and see what changes.
 
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Antonio Ferrari
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Bagnolo Cremasco
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I've played various 2, 3 and 4 players games until now and they've always finished after 8 (maybe 10 ) years or more. Battles have always been hard.

4 years seems too few, maybe a fundamental principle hasn't been applied: observe each other always.
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Neil Christiansen
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How and why were the market values allowed to get so high as that everyone made money off green grapes? The market should go down with each sale and the years should not go on long enough for the price to get up to 3.

Green grapes are almost always a weak opening vinyard because the profit margin is so low. $1 to win bid, $1/cube to harvest. At any time you are raising the market cost, someone can sell it out for under you before it comes back to you. For example, at $2 they can sell a green cube and it tanks back to $1 and there is no profit.
 
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