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Subject: Anything similar? rss

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Chris Berger
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So I've been listening to back episodes of the Spiel (after catching up on the Dice Tower and listening to all of the last year or two worth of the Spiel), and just heard their first Speil des Jahres episode from 2008 or whenever it was. The turn order mechanic of Thebes sounds amazing to me, and it's definitely on my "maybe I should buy this" list.

However, hearing all the complaints about luck in the game disheartens me a little. Now, I'm not sure that I'd mind the luck all that much. After all, from what I've heard and read, it seems like there should be a pretty clear range of expected values from each dig, and it seems like outliers that are well beyond that range should be pretty rare... It seems like most of the time your dig will be more or less as successful as you'd expect it to be based on your knowledge and time spent. So I personally would overlook the luck aspect much like I do in Settlers (getting completely dice hosed or blessed in a way that negates your placement strategy is so rare that I think it can be discounted entirely - and I think some people complain about getting dice hosed when they went heavy on one number, which isn't a good strategy in the first place). However I feel like a lot of the people I game with would have the same luck complaint that others have expressed in this forum, and I think it would be hard to get to the table more than once.

Does anyone know of another game that has the same turn order mechanic of time-as-a-currency that Thebes has? It just seems like too awesome of a mechanic to throw away, and if there's another game with the same thing or similar but less luck factor I'd like to check it out.
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Kent Reuber
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Thebes is one of the best implementations of theme in Euro games that I can think of. Don't let the luck factor sway you.
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Thomas Chipman
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i don't mind the randomness of the bag draws. i actually think it fits the theme fairly well, since it doesn't matter how much research you do or how much time you spend digging ... in the real world you might not just find anything worth keeping. the randomness has made for some of the more fun memories i've had playing the game.

as far as similar turn order mechanics, take a look at tinner's trail.
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Andrew MacLeod
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You cannot win in Thebes without good luck; but then again, you cannot win in Thebes without good strategy and good tactics as well! Having said that, I would also argue that luck in Settlers plays less of a factor than it does in Thebes. You can go into Egypt in Thebes with thirteen Ph.D's from Harvard in egyptology and devote nine hundred and forty two weeks to excavating......and come up with nothing....
I still enjoy the game, though; but you have been warned!
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Dan C
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I think luck in this game is overstated. If the only points you got in this game were blind draws then I wouldn't enjoy it. But only about half of your points or less come from that. You need to also be tactically wise about getting exhibitions, congress and majorities as well
I don't consider out much luckier than other euros of similar weight.
 
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David K.
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Don't let the luck factor keep you from this great game. The suspense/luck is what makes it fun. There's nothing like watching your opponent reach into a bag while the rest of you begin to chant... "Dirt! Dirt! Dirt! Dirt!"

And almost everythng is public knowledge in this game (except what is still left in the bag and what cards are on the draw pile) and there are reference cards for what is in the bags at the start of the game, so you know pretty much what you need to do, and what others are might be planning.

Go for it, you won't be sorry.
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Andrew MacLeod
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jedimusic wrote:
I think luck in this game is overstated. If the only points you got in this game were blind draws then I wouldn't enjoy it. But only about half of your points or less come from that.


The underlined portion is key here. In other words, possibly as much as half of your VP is going to be luck based.
Nevertheless, I do like the game!

 
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Patrick C.
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Thebes was one game in a long line of games that I felt burned by because I went for theme over everything else. I willfully ignored all the criticisms about excessive luck because, darn it, I loved that theme.

Then I played it. I know others can get into this game, but I just can't. I immediately traded it away. I would go as far as saying that I hate this game. And there are very very few games I hate.

I don't think it's just the luck. I love Lords of Vegas which has a huge amount of luck. But the luck just seems more calculating and measured in LoV. You know the odds when you roll the dice. You know the odds of what casinos are going to pay out. Just about everything in LoV that involves luck has measurable odds. Sort of like a game of Black Jack or other betting game.

The luck in Thebes involves zero skill and very little calculation. True, you know the odds of pulling out artifacts based on what is still known to be in the bags. But it just doesn't create any emotion IME. When you push your luck in LoV it's always against another player. This creates tension and excitement. In Thebes I just felt . . . bored. However, my gf, who is not a hardcore gamer, loved Thebes. She was totally into the theme.

I haven't played it yet, but the closest I've seen to Thebes in terms of using time is Around the World in 80 Days. Sadly, it does not use it the same way as in Thebes which I agree is ingenious.
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Andrew MacLeod
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travvller wrote:
Thebes was one game in a long line of games that I felt burned by because I went for theme over everything else. I willfully ignored all the criticisms about excessive luck because, darn it, I loved that theme.

Then I played it. I know others can get into this game, but I just can't. I immediately traded it away. I would go as far as saying that I hate this game. And there are very very few games I hate.


Like you, Travvller, I went for Thebes on account of the theme; and I still own it, and still enjoy it. But my enthusiasm for it has long since been dampened by the very things you criticize.
 
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Daniel Kearns
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arkayn wrote:

Does anyone know of another game that has the same turn order mechanic of time-as-a-currency that Thebes has? It just seems like too awesome of a mechanic to throw away, and if there's another game with the same thing or similar but less luck factor I'd like to check it out.


Thebes is pretty cool.

Around the World in 80 Days uses time as a currency as well.
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Chris Berger
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To addess some of the answers here...

- First off, thanks for the responses. Even the ones that weren't entirely helpful.

- Theme can make a good game better, but for me theme rarely sells a game (unless it's a Space or Time Travel game, but Time Travel still doesn't make Chrononauts a good game). The fact that the archaeology theme bores me a bit doesn't help, but when a game is thematic that's definitely a plus, even if I don't care that much for the theme. Long story short, it's a plus that it's thematic, but doesn't matter that much in the long run.

- I'm more worried about the rest of my gaming group being turned off by the luck factor than myself. Although if it's extremely luck-based, that would make me hate it. From what I can gather, it's within an acceptable range for me.

- I just looked at the game materials on here a little more closely, and I think the biggest thing that I didn't notice before and that really concerns me is that the artifacts range from 1 to 6 points. That seems crazy, especially with just 1 or 2 of the high-value chits in the bag. If all the artifacts were the same and it just came down to how many you drew, it seems like it should even out nicely, or if they were numbered from like 4 to 6 where the spread wasn't so huge. But now that I'm looking at it, the 1's seem like they aren't much different from Dirt...

- Someone mentioned that you could spend a million days digging and still get nothing but Dirt... Don't you pull all of your allowed tiles out of the bag before replacing? So if you draw as many tiles as there are in the bag (or as many as the number of Dirt tiles plus 1), then you're assured of something, right? Or maybe there's just more Dirt per bag than the maximum number on the time wheels?

- I didn't really start this thread to complain about or get into a debate about the luck factor. There are already threads on that. I mean, don't let me stop anybody - discuss away, but just know that it wasn't my intention to complain about the luck in the game. I was just wondering if anything else used a similar turn order mechanic which is really the main thing that drew me to the game from the review (almost the only thing that drew me to the game, but it's almost enough, because it sounds so awesome). I didn't see any other threads that really discussed that.

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Andrew MacLeod
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arkayn wrote:


- Someone mentioned that you could spend a million days digging and still get nothing but Dirt... Don't you pull all of your allowed tiles out of the bag before replacing? So if you draw as many tiles as there are in the bag (or as many as the number of Dirt tiles plus 1), then you're assured of something, right? Or maybe there's just more Dirt per bag than the maximum number on the time wheels?


If memory serves me, there is a fifty/fifty distribution of dirt and finds in each bag at the start of the game. Obviously, that ratio will rise in favour of dirt as the game progresses.
As for drawing as many tiles as there are in the bag, the game mechanics don't allow it. I believe the maximum limit is twelve items in an excavation.
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Max Maloney
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arkayn wrote:
Does anyone know of another game that has the same turn order mechanic of time-as-a-currency that Thebes has?

Glen More uses this same mechanism. I know there are a few other games that do, but I can't think of them at the moment.
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Mark Siew
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Dormammu wrote:
arkayn wrote:
Does anyone know of another game that has the same turn order mechanic of time-as-a-currency that Thebes has?

Glen More uses this same mechanism. I know there are a few other games that do, but I can't think of them at the moment.


The time track mechanism is what drew me to Glen More. Looks like Olympos has a similar mechanism. I've read the rules but haven't played it myself. It's certainly on my wishlist.
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Dan C
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Red November uses a similar time mechanism, though I have not played it. (Faidutti acknowledges a similarity to Thebes in that game's manual reportedly).

Quote:
jedimusic wrote:
I think luck in this game is overstated. If the only points you got in this game were blind draws then I wouldn't enjoy it. But only about half of your points or less come from that.


The underlined portion is key here. In other words, possibly as much as half of your VP is going to be luck based.
Nevertheless, I do like the game!


But the digging points generally even out among the players to result in close artifact scores. Where it's won and lost is in the exhibiition/congress/majority scores. And even if I dig in blue and get only a 1 point artifact... that might be the one artifact I need to make me eligible for an exhibition that you can't get.
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Chris Berger
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Cool, some good suggestions. Tinner's Trail looks like a winner. I know that Glen More and Olympos are both owned by players at the local game store's board game night (some people were playing Olympus last night, and the guy that taught me Navegador mentioned Glen More at some point), so I'll try and get in on a game of either or both of those.

Even still, I'm not sure that any of this means I won't buy Thebes, because it does still look like fun, but good to have some other similar options to choose from.

Edit: Oh, and forgot to mention, I've been considering Red November for a while just based on theme. Gnomes on a submarine!
 
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Matt Lee
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Dormammu wrote:
arkayn wrote:
Does anyone know of another game that has the same turn order mechanic of time-as-a-currency that Thebes has?

Glen More uses this same mechanism. I know there are a few other games that do, but I can't think of them at the moment.


Red November uses this mechanic too, but is a much more chaotic game.
 
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Andrew Foerster
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I won't play Thebes a lot, but it is enjoyable. The turn order mechanism is very interesting (I always hear that Glen More has something similar, though I've never played).

What's said here is pretty much straight on, though. There are lots of ways to mitigate the luck of the bag draw (research and, most significantly, shovels) and of the game overall (Congress cards and exhibitions). And there are, I'm sure, plenty of variants to either mitigate the luck (maybe something where you get a guaranteed number of artifacts based on certain factors) or at least make the draws more interesting (like removing some dirt from the bag on each dig so that artifacts are more likely to come out on subsequent draws ... note that this doesn't mitigate luck and may even aggravate the situation as you may have a big draw of mostly dirt and then the next guy can swoop in and dig from an artifact rich bag). Still, though, there's just a lot of randomness in the draw. It's pretty thematic and fun if you don't let it get to you too much. I mean, there's going to be several draws each game that break heavily one direction or another.

It's sort of like Stone Age on steroids ... I wouldn't call it the best "gateway" as strategies can be somewhat limited in comparison to the luck, but it's pretty fun and the way it plays often newbies can have fun and have a chance at not getting steamrolled.
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Brian Brokaw
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I think the action point system in Tinners' Trail is a great use of this mechanic. (and my favorite of the 4 games with this kind of system I've tried.)

Glen More and Around the World in 80 days are the other games I am aware of with this kind of mechanic.
 
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Steve Duff
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Thebes is one of those games where it's extremely easy to blame the luck for losing the game. "I only lost because I pulled more dirt than the other guy".

In practice, I don't think it's ever the determining factor. People forget all the times the other player's pull dirt, and don't notice that they were much more efficient in their moving, made clever moves to manipulate the turn order or use the turn order to dig first, get the bonuses for colours, exhibitions...
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Chris Berger
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I found this this geeklist which would have answered my question if I'd found it before posting. Adding it here in case anyone else is curious.
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Andy Andersen
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My wife and I played Thebes for the first time today. Bottom line - my wife said it is unlikely to ever want to play it again, She said it was too simple. I thought about that comment and decided that we may be becoming a bit more "sophisticated" in gaming and are now looking toward heavier weight games.

Or maybe we are missing something with Thebes. There was no tension at all and the game seemed more suited for kids. I got walloped (expected) but luck of the draw of dirt really hurt my game.
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Laura, just Laura
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Sun, Sea & Sand may be just what you're looking for. It uses a time mechanic that, while not exactly what you described, has a similar effect. Your 5 "family members" (action markers) go away for different numbers of "weeks" (turns) to enable you to take different actions. So next "week" you get back the family members who are due back, and soon this varies for each player, so yes, one player may get several actions this turn while another player gets 1 or even 0.

This game may work for your group because there is no luck...absolutely none. It is a perfect information game. Now, I tend to dislike perfect information games, perhaps because I'm just not good at them...but I never even noticed that this was perfect information until after a couple of games I heard someone mention it. I'd been having too much fun to notice!
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Andrew MacLeod
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Thank you, Laura, for that comment! I've been sitting on the fence for a very long time now on Sun, Sea and Sand, and your thoughts just now were the straw that broke my camel's wallet....or something like that. Sun, Sea and Sand is now on my wish list!
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