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Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Another game which went against expectations rss

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John Clark
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Four player game. Two new players (but experienced gamers), Chris and Merran. Other players were me and Brendan.

I won't go through all the details, but I picked up the Monastry on the first round. Chris picked up free Merchant AND the $5 per turn in Age 1. Can't remember what Merran did. Brendan went for trade goods and merchant ships with a soldier building.

Mostly I play a colonization strategy. Its pretty one-dimensional: pump guys into the new world, hopefully with Monastry and Cathedral and pick up Population at the end for 15+ bonus points. It all worked well - I got almost exactly what I wanted every turn. I managed to get first place in the turn order for the first round of Age 3 (this is VERY important to achieve) and got Population building for 17 points. I scored about 103, which is enough to win most games of AOE3.

Chris and Merran played quite competently for their first game but never really settled on a strategy.

Brendan made several discoveries, always scouting with one guy on one turn and then sending exactly the right force on the next turn, sometimes with 3 soldiers for a lot of cash. He actually made one discovery with the scout when the tile had only one native! I had thought about doing this in the past but never tried it.

Brendan got 6 merchant ships by the end of Age 3 plus Privateers.

Going into the final scoring Brendan was on ZERO points from Age 1 and Age 2 scoring. He had only 7 colonists in the New World. Brendan won the game by ONE point from me.

You see, Brendan, in addition to his points from discoveries, bought FOUR Age 3 buildings. They were Navy (24 points), Wealth (10+ points), Mercantilism (14 points - he had West Indies Co to get extra trade goods) and Prosperity (14 points). That's a total of about 65 points from Age 3 buildings. He remaining 40 points came from discoveries and one first place in the New World.

Wow - that was a come-from-behind win for Brendan! I have never seen so many points scored at the end of the game, and I have never seen a game won with so few colonists in the New World.

I need to think more about 'scouting' the discoveries and using Soldiers in discoveries for cash ...
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Stephen Sanders
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I'm actually more and more surprised at the various ways to win at this game. I sure never would have expected a victory the way Brendan played. Thanks for the session.
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Henry Allen
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When you scout, doesn't everyone get to see what you find? It is interesting to hear that it was useful but I've always avoided it since, if I don't have first in turn order for the next turn, someone else can use the info I turn up to send just the right amount of people (before I can send them).
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Steve Duff
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KlydeFrog wrote:
When you scout, doesn't everyone get to see what you find?


Yes, they do. Since you can only launch one per turn, this should have allowed the other players to repeatedly jump in and get that discovery before Brendan's next turn.
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JT Call
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We always keep the number of indians secret (why would the other players know how many indians there were if all the explorers were wiped out during the expedition? It doesn't seem fair. After all "dead men tell no tales").

As for not allowing multiple explorations, I didn't know that was a rule. We play that whoever has the highest turn order gets to explore as often as he wants and then the next player (with colonists in the discovery box) can go on explorations. It seems fair since some people sometimes will have more than 5 colonists on the box and they should be allowed to use them as they please.
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Brian Mc Cabe
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Some groups replace the explored tile on an unsuccessful mission, the reasoning being that your expedition was wiped out and could not report what they had seen.

I'm pretty sure you can only explore once per turn; although, I can't recite chapter and verse. You can hold guys back, but I'm pretty sure it's a single-action space.

House rules, excepted.

Brian
 
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Steve Duff
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The once per turn is in the rules proper, right at the end of the Discover section:
Quote:
Note: Players may only launch one discovery per turn but are not required to send all of their colonists on an expedition. The colonists that remain behind stay in the Discovery Area and can be used for future expeditions.


Making the tile public is in the faq.
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John Clark
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KlydeFrog wrote:
When you scout, doesn't everyone get to see what you find? It is interesting to hear that it was useful but I've always avoided it since, if I don't have first in turn order for the next turn, someone else can use the info I turn up to send just the right amount of people (before I can send them).


Good question. Since I posted this I have done some more research and discovered that we have played this wrong. In this game we played that the discoverer could look and the tile secretly and put it back face down. This is incorrect - it was not a deliberate house rule but just a mistake on my part. Having played it wrong, however, I actually quite liked it!

I found a good discussion of this issue here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/589786/question-about-di...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/327330/discovery-declara...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/180935/discovery-reveale...

The last one is most interesting, I think.

There are two issues with if failed discovery tiles are revealed to all or not:

1. Does this upset the balance of the game?

2. Does it make more or less sense thematically?

I'll include Glenn Drover's comment from the last thread list above in full:

Budley wrote:
The reasoning for showing all players was:

1) The penalty for failing a discovery attempt would include giving the other players information.

2) Historically, information about newly discovered areas was hard to keep secret in Europe (though nations did try). It was especially difficult to keep the news of a large native civilization like the Incas or Aztecs secret.

From a gameplay perspective, whether the information is kept secret or not will have a small impact on the game, so it could be played either way without disrupting the balance of the game.



I think that this means that Glenn thought that this rule did not have much bearing on the gameplay ('small impact') and he was more concerned with thematic stuff.

My thoughts are:

1. The 'discovery' part of the game is risky and cannot be used as a 'core' strategy. This is not to say that Discovery is not important or that players cannot win with it as a core strategy, but in order to do so you need to be a bit lucky. This was a diliberate design choice - Glenn wanted discovery to be risky and to be 'punished' if you failed.

2. Discovering places is fun and I would dearly like it to be a more viable strategy. One of my (few) disappointments with AOE3 is that Discovery is not more potent. I actually think that Discovery is almost a viable strategy.

3. Keeping the failed discovery tile secret might be enough to tip Discovery over the edge as a viable strategy. I very strongly doubt that it would make the Discovery strategy over-powered!

4. Thematically, I have no serious problem with this. Glenn is probably right in saying that it was hard to keep this kind of information secret, but I think that it was kept relatively secret in some cases, at least for enough time for the same nation to send a second force over.

5. Note that even if the failed discovery is kept secret, this reveals useful info to the other players: that there is a 'strong' (and therefore probably wealthy) group of natives there! If I were discovering with 5 units and knew that the previous player had failed a discovery then I would be going to the same place!

Note that I am not advocating that this rule would be better than the rules as written. However, Glenn designed the game with a certain view on the element of risk involved and some game groups may prefer to increase or decrease that risk level. I think that the 'secret' failed discovery variant would nicely lower the risk level of the game without compromising the gameplay.

Of course, I have read of other groups that want to go the other direction - a failed discovery tile is replaced by another tile entirely so no information at all is gained! Whatever floats your boat!

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Ryan Dicorato
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Scouting is not an optimal strategy for a number of reasons. Besides the obvious giving information to your opponents that they could utilize against you, you are also wasting precious turns and workers that essentially do nothing.

In the rulebook, you are given a list of the tiles in the game. It shows you the natives, VPs, money you get for colonizing it, and money you get per soldier. If I remember correctly there are 16 tiles and you use 50% of them every game. I know that there are two 5 native tiles. There are 3 (not sure if this is accurate) 4 native tiles. Then a bunch of 3s. Don't really need to care about the 1 and 2 native tiles at the beginning of the game because they are so easy to colonize.

Knowing this information, my strategy when trying to colonize is to try to get a tile on every turn. Which means that you have 8 turns in the game, you want to end the game with 8 tiles. I ended a game with 9 one time before (don't forget about the free discovery building from Age 1). So to do this, you want to try to always overcompensate. The majority of tiles are 3 natives. So if you send 4 natives the only way you will lose all 4 natives is if you happen to run into one of the two 5 native tiles. Not likely, but it has happened to me before. Don't despair, though, because there are only two of them. It shouldn't happen to you with BOTH tiles (again something that happened to me before). So using this strategy, you run into a 3 native tile, you were able to discover on turn 1 using the same amount of colonists you would doing the scout strategy.
 
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