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Subject: Session Report rss

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Travis Hall
Australia
Brisbane
Queensland
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After a relatively long break, we've been at it again. The longest game in our repertoire has happened again.

Having checked the old session reports, I have realised that this was the first time we have managed to gather eight players for Advanced Civilization, contrary to my thoughts at the time. Julie had decided to sit this one out, as such a long game as Adv Civ knocks her around too much (she has said she might play again if we manage to cut down the play-time enough), and this allowed the rest of us to start earlier than previously. Nevertheless, it was still approaching 11am when we were finally organised to play.

We had hoped to have some play-aids ready to help us get through the game faster. However, I hadn't had time to write up the openings I had hoped to have done. (Certain nations have defied my analysis as yet, and I just haven't had time to type up the opening plays which are obvious.) I hadn't had time to do a full debug cycle on the timer program, either, and while I hoped to have it good enough to use, a bug killed it stone-cold dead. (Very embarrassing, considering I program for a living. It was a very simple bug, I've since discovered.) However, Nick had some calamity and advances reference sheets, which prevented some of the regular scrambles for the rulebook, and my "planning tokens" (tokens to be placed on the board to mark out a sort of "unofficial move", thus making planning easier and so faster) got a little use. (I was surprised to find I had a lot less call for using the planning tokens than I did in previous games.) We also had four computers (two the host's, two lap-tops) running my cost spreadsheets, which I think greatly sped up our purchasing.

Kris, our only newbie, was ceded Babylon. Tim chose Africa, AJ Egypt, Darryl Iberia, David Illyria and Nick Assyria. I had second-last choice and left Nick rather disappointed when I chose Asia. (I really would rather start on the mainland - any mainland - than as Crete, and Asia crowded against Assyria has got to be better than Thrace crowded against Illyria.) Kit, joining us for the first time, chose his favourite nation, Thrace, over his second-favourite, Crete.

Asia is one of those nations which I haven't finished opening analysis for yet. (It should be relatively easy, but I haven't had time.) This is probably just as well, as I think my analysis would have given me an unfair advantage had I been playing Iberia or Africa. The result was that I screwed up the opening, leading me to only build to 7 cities on turn 7. Meanwhile, Kit decided to keep the population pressure low by attacking David early - a move which I think simply puts them equally behind the pack. I don't get it, but Kit seemed to think he knew what he was doing. Kris failed to expand as much as he should have - the mistake every newbie makes - while AJ put too many unit across the Sinai Penninsula. These errors cost Nick, who was restricted by the overadbundances of Babylonians, Egyptians and Asians who couldn't find places to build cities. This gave Africa and Iberia good starts.

David shocked us all by making Enlightenment his first purchase. I knew that I'd have to purchase Enlightenment quickly, because sure as there are Egyptians on the Nile, Monotheism was coming. My first purchases were Mysticism and Clothmaking, a deviation from my usual early purchase of Pottery. This time I realised I was having trouble getting my people around the Black Sea the way I wanted, so I needed the sails. Others started off in a fairly standard manner, as far as I remember, with lots of Mysticism and Arts purchases.

Trying to find room for my burgeoning population on the wrong side of my cities, I dumped units on the Thracian side of the Black Sea, when Thrace and Illyria left me space. I had intended to pick them back up and move on around on the next turn, but Thrace drew the flood right then, and suddenly I was sitting right beside a vacated flood plain with two city sites free! So I moved onto one of them and built a city instead, since nobody else could get to it. The city served me well until David got his Monotheism, and then became calamity-fodder. It died before David could take control of it.

I soon demonstrated the combined usefulness of Coinage and Architecture, and others were inclined to follow. Half the board purchased Metalworking together, and the other half followed very shortly after, so Metalworking was really just used to hunt barbarians. Similarly, Engineering was bought by everyone at once, so was used to hunt pirates and stave off floods and earthquakes. My focus on the sciences served me well, keeping me largely safe from epidemic. (I usually like crafts, but the purchases happened to work out neatly for sciences this game.) David's Monotheism purchase was quickly followed by other Monotheism purchases, but I led the way to Theology (since I was really just wanting to defend against it) and David never managed to steal anything from my with his Monotheism.

With eight nations in play, we had a lot more trouble than we were used to building to nine cities. Africa repeatedly benefitted from civil war and treachery, usually at the expense of Babylon and Assyria. On one of those occassions, he only benefitted from the war by virtue of an AST-order tiebreak! Another time, I missed out on getting civil war benefits by a single unit, and I think it might have been Africa who pipped me then too. Egypt was one of the leaders early, but volatile Babylon and Assyria were positioned well to knock him back. With Thrace and Illyria pressuring each other, with the occasional slightly nasty incursion from me, Iberia and Africa were left to consolidate their leads in peace.

Late in the game, Babylon had tax problems. "What happens if I don't have enough tokens to collect taxes?" asked Kris plaintively. "Errm... We're sure we warned you about that," came the mumbled responses. A count of units in stock revealed that I would benefit from his tax revolt. I took four (I think) cities from him, and somebody else got a fifth. This netted me a nice bundle of trade cards before I handed the cities back, with interest, on the same turn, when I drew civil war. I dropped from 73 unit points on the board to 33, for I did not have advances to help, and did have military. But then Babylon had lots of cities reduced by Iconoclasm & Heresy (made worse by Monotheism), and since so many of his cities were on fertile areas and he had Agriculture, all but one of his units were put back on the board. He bought Coinage immediately, but even that only salvaged a single city. Again, I benefitted. I probably gained overall from the sequence, but the gain wasn't big (accounting for a lost step on the AST).

Going into the end-game, we all knew Tim was the man to beat. Nick became frustrated when I attacked him instead of Tim. I had no choice, as I simply could not reach Tim, and I needed to reclaim my city-site (lost to Tim, then Nick, through treachery). David was pegged back, Kit was pegged back, Darryl was pegged back, but nobody could stop Tim.

On the last turn of the game, I bought over 700 points worth of advances. This catapulted me into a firmish second, surprising everyone because I had been behind the pack almost all game. I still couldn't quite beat Tim, though. He took the game on 4600-some points. I was second on 4414. Darryl was third on 4300-something. This was the first time Darryl had been competitive with the front-runners, and I was glad to see his improvement. He played well this game. Nick was forth on 4200-some, I think - or was it AJ? David and Kit, after being locked in close struggle all game, tied on 4059. Whoever was seventh was close behind in the 3900 range - that was either AJ or Nick, whichever wasn't fourth. And Kris the newbie brought up the rear on 3600-some, a very respectable score for a new player. It was a good, tight game, and unlike is often the case with Adv Civ nobody was sitting around for the closing hours knowing they were out of the race.

Things to watch in the future... Some players thought you can purchase an advance and the prerequisite for that advance on the same turn. We had one player try to buy Engineering and Mining together in the second-last turn, a buy that had the potential to screw my strategy (gem-collection which would have died if the gems were too valuable to others), and earlier I think we had at least one player buy Enlightenment and Monotheism or Theology together. No! Bad puppy, no biscuit. I'm sure everyone will remember that in future. This is why you should take heed when somebody buys Enlightenment, because if you wait until he buys Monotheism before you defend, you will need at least two turns to purchase a counter, not one. There was an incident with a trade that went wrong - I'm not sure what happened, but it may have been a case of players miscommunicating and thus one thought he was getting something that wasn't there. Everyone has to be careful about clearly declaring two trade cards truthfully. I think Kit has more experience with basic Civ than Adv Civ, because he kept remembering basic Civ rules - but he'll know the differences next time!

But, we did manage to finish the game in about 12 hours total! It was about 10:30pm when we added up, and that 12 hours includes lunch and dinner breaks. This is a big improvement for our group.

We may not need that timer program after all - but on the other hand, some of the guys have asked if I can turn it into a game manager, and I think I might...
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Jim Molander
Sweden
Uppsala
Uppsala
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mbmbmbmbmb
Re:Session Report
Wraith (#475510),
Great reading!
 
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Nikolas Moore
Australia
Toowong
Queensland
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Re:Session Report
Wraith (#475510),

I enjoyed reading that. Here's the score and trading miscommunication clarification, along with a couple of extra features of this session that may be of interest.

The trading ambiguity occurred when Thrace offered me (Assyria) two wines for my trade, which I think was quite valuable, so to encourage me he turned one of the wines face-down and threw in a salt (face-up) as well. Yet when I got the cards, the face-down "wine" had turned into Iconoclasm and Heresy. I was mostly objectionable about the dire consequences for me, as Civil War (losing two cities and 4 units to Africa) + I&H (reducing four cities) knocked me all the way down to one city, so for the second turn in a row I was unable to advance on the AST and was unable to buy any advances. I'd actually made a foolish trade just to get a third disaster, Civil Disorder. To my great annoyance it was the one I threw out. Now that I think about it, throwing out Civil War would have been even worse (reduce to 4 cities then lose 4 cities) - I would have gone backwards on the AST.

Africa went one step further with deceptive trading, telling me "I'm not trading you I&H" when that's exactly what he traded me, though this time I was able to swap it with Asia for Epidemic, which wasn't as bad as I had Medicine. Deceptive trading is within the rules, although personally I wouldn't recommend it as it is liable to discourage others from trading with you in the future. I was certainly reluctant to trade with Africa thereafter.

I was actually fairly happy with Assyria's early position, being the first to build to 9 cities and not requiring a wilderness site. The problem with being the early leader is that's it is too easy for everyone else to hit you, which is what happened. It's harder to hit the leader later on when he has Military and advances that mitigate calamities. Africa built one city when he had just 16 units, perhaps so he wouldn't look threatening early. He spent about 400 on advances on my civil war turn and suddenly had a big lead and nobody could catch him for the rest of the game. He also prevented me from building up to 9 cities again (although I bought gold a bit) as my civil war and an invasion gave him sites in my territory that took a long time to get back. These sites gave him extra territory.

Africa did get stopped on the AST on one turn in the endgame. I plundered one of his cities, took another one through treachery, another through monotheism and another one got pirated. But he was still too far in front and other players were doing just as well on the AST.

Africa also seemed to get his timing right. Apart from benefitting from civil wars, he took an inland city off Asia through treachery, which Asia was unable to hit. Thus next turn it was a natural choice for me to take off him via treachery, but a mistake. Asia could now hit that city, having reduced a city next to it so he had enough units, and (sensibly) did. Naturally I became frustrated.

It is an exaggeration for me to say that those two disastrous turns killed me, as I finished reasonably close with 4299, in fourth place (yes AJ was 7th).

Pirates hardly ever came up, with 9 cities being so rare. On the other hand, nations usually got to 6 cities and Epidemic was coming up nearly every turn, so Medicine was a useful purchase. Units were more precious as we only had 47 each and less space to put them. Architecture was very important; taxing heavily to buy gold maybe wasn't such a good idea. Monotheism was useful for me - and with 8 players has a better chance of being used - as I didn't get hit again by I&H after buying it, and after first monotheising Africa I got a city per turn off Egypt. It was quite a different type of game with eight players, but everybody was still in a position to do well, certainly the most competitive game of Advanced Civ I've played.
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Travis Hall
Australia
Brisbane
Queensland
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Re:Session Report
captainTheo wrote:
The trading ambiguity occurred when Thrace offered me (Assyria) two wines for my trade, which I think was quite valuable, so to encourage me he turned one of the wines face-down and threw in a salt (face-up) as well. Yet when I got the cards, the face-down "wine" had turned into Iconoclasm and Heresy.


Ah. Well, in that case you have nobody to blame but yourself. The rule is, exactly two truthfully-stated cards, the total number of cards correctly stated, and at least one card which is unknown to the receiver. In accepting a trade with one face-up wine and one face-up salt, you acknowledged that you were prepared to accept the risk of the face-down card being something other than the wine you were "promised".

Also, remember that I pointed out during that displaying three cards face up and then turning one face down, in view of your trading partner, violates the rules of the game. If you are trading by showing face up cards, the identity of the third card in the trade must be concealed. That may mean taking the card back into your hand and shuffling before picking it back out again.

For a few minutes during the game, I thought you might insist on reversing that trade. Doing so would have been another rules violation.

Late in the game, Tim was conducting his trades by displaying any cards other than his larger sets face up. Even that is uncomfortably close to the edge of the rules for me. If too much of his hand is shown, his trading partners can know for a fact that his third trade card will be safe, and that's something the rules are designed to forbid.

Africa went one step further with deceptive trading, telling me "I'm not trading you I&H" when that's exactly what he traded me,

Again, a verbal agreement isn't worth the paper it's written on.

Deceptive trading is within the rules, although personally I wouldn't recommend it as it is liable to discourage others from trading with you in the future. I was certainly reluctant to trade with Africa thereafter.

Deceptive trading is more than within the rules. The rules are designed, deliberately so, to facilitate it. Without those rules in place, it would be extremely difficult to move the calamities around.

Refusing to trade with a player who decieves you is a valid strategy, and one employed by some players of the game, but I don't think it is a particularly good idea. The truth is, a lot of trades are valuable enough to be worth accepting a calamity to get them. In the long term, I think it is worth accepting the occasional calamity in exchange for acquiring larger sets of commodity cards faster.

Did you notice also at one stage I offered you a trade, but refused to say anything about the third card? You almost didn't accept the trade, because you were worried about the extra card being a calamity. Eventually you did accept, I believe to the great profit of us both, and the third card I passed was not a calamity at all. There are multiple reasons why I refused to reveal anything about that third card. You might like to think about them.

Africa also seemed to get his timing right. Apart from benefitting from civil wars, he took an inland city off Asia through treachery, which Asia was unable to hit. Thus next turn it was a natural choice for me to take off him via treachery, but a mistake. Asia could now hit that city, having reduced a city next to it so he had enough units, and (sensibly) did. Naturally I became frustrated.

Yes, that was a big mistake at that point in the game. I had even considered trying to buy Roadbuilding so that I could attack that city, but whether I did it with Roadbuilding or reducing an adjacent city, I still couldn't hit it any earlier than I did. You just stepped in front of the truck.
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Evertjan van de Kaa
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so you can show cards that you trade?, I was quite sure that you could not.

Evertjan van de Kaa
 
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Travis Hall
Australia
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Queensland
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You cannot show the cards that you are trading, strictly according to the rules, but you must truthfully state two of the cards you are trading. (And by that I mean, "I am giving you a grain and an oil and a third card which I assure you is a grain, but which I might be lying about" is legal, but "I am giving you two grain and an oil, and at least two of those cards are actually in there" is not.) We chose to allow people to make trading offers by showing two face-up cards and one (or more) face-down cards. This has the same effect as the standard rule, but allows trades to be offerred by visual signal, instead of verbally.

It was just to cut down on the noise, and possible confusion due to not hearing properly over the noise. With eight people playing in a relatively small area, trading can get quite loud.
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Evertjan van de Kaa
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Actualy in our games we generaly have the rule that if you say "I am giving you two grain and an oil" that this means that at least two of those need to be correct. we therefore generaly do not name the third card.

Why is the frase "I am giving you two grain and an oil" incorrect?, as long as you give two of the three cards correct you follow the rule don't you.
 
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