Recommend
18 
 Thumb up
 Hide
33 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

Cyclades» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Cyclades: an excellent game with one big problem rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Dirk Knemeyer
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Played Cyclades for the first time tonight and really enjoyed it. The theme is wonderful, it is well-reinforced in the mechanics, and those mechanics are an enjoyable blend of conflict and building. The game really has a lot going for it, and I'm very much looking forward to playing it again.

Having established my affection, there is one major issue I have: determining who "is going to win" is far too transparent and encourages, in the late game, continual engineering and monitoring of "who can win" and audibly discuss how to stop them. This is a major flaw and is begging for a rule change, or at least a house rule. As we got into the late game, it became clear that "Bill" had reached a point where - at any point - he could win in two consecutive turns where he won the auction correctly and affordably. A little later, when Bill's winning condition had slimmed to just one turn - take Athena, get two philosophers - we were also able to divine that "Todd" was also just one turn away, in his case simply needing to get Ares and build a fortress. Additionally, the other three of us were also two turns away assuming we could affordably get the proper gods on each of those two turns.

This made the ending anti-climactic. It was the ultimate bit of kingmaker, as we open-face knew precisely what each player needed to win, and it was simply a question of which person would be blocked by another player, thus enabling his antagonist to win instead. This is exacerbated by the randomness of the order of the god draws - a very nice mechanic during the heart of the game - when it was clear there was a chance that simply whichever of the "correct" gods ended up first in the order would determine which player would win.

I consider this a fatal flaw, one that takes a game that is fresh, enjoyable and dynamic throughout and turns it into a carefully engineered "pick the winner" process. Presumably the best way to counter this is to make the Philosophers hidden information along with the money. This way, instead of Athena being a completely undesirable choice on most turns there is some extra intrigue around the potential of someone, in the mid-to-late game, leveraging Athena to win the game. Given the weakness of both philosophers and universities in the game this might also serve as a balancing mechanic compared to the other gods, making her a more interesting and viable option.

Another idea might be to have some sort of secondary method to collect victory points that are hidden during the game. Then, even though someone building their second metropolis ends the game, it might not necessarily mean that they are the winner.

Regardless, whether either of those are THE solution or not - my one play is not adequate to say for sure - I think the end game of this very enjoyable experience would greatly benefit from some hidden information or otherwise turning the endgame into something similarly dynamic and volatile as the early and mid game of this little gem.
20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Guido Gloor
Switzerland
Ostermundigen
Bern
flag msg tools
The statement below is false.
badge
The statement above is correct.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It's often possible to block all those players who are going to win, and that is indeed what the end game here is all about
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Collegeville
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So you don't believe that someone popping four Philosophers out from behind the screen and saying, "Hey, lookee here - I win!" would be equally anticlimactic, if not moreso?

Part of what makes this game fantastic is the tension between doing what you need to do to win and doing what you need to do to keep everyone else from winning. It's a feature, not a bug.
45 
 Thumb up
0.03
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex P
France
La Plaine St-Denis
Ile-de-France
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
And it's not like it's difficult to remember someone buying 3 cards... Also, it opens up the game to Battlestar Galactica-style, "He's already bought two and I know he has at least X coins so he can easily afford..." accusations which will make the person who has the golden voice a winner.

But there is a variant to this game that can be used with experienced players: Don't talk about Fight Cyclades! I.e. players are not allowed to say anything about the game other than the actions they are actually taking. Once announced, a move cannot be taken back (so three other players quickly exhaling over the win you just handed a fourth will not permit you to correct course) so the game will flow more smoothly and keep people alert.
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Chaplin
United Kingdom
Nottingham
Ice-choked tower, Mondavia, Nanglangka.
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Jesse Custer wrote:
And it's not like it's difficult to remember someone buying 3 cards... Also, it opens up the game to Battlestar Galactica-style, "He's already bought two and I know he has at least X coins so he can easily afford..." accusations which will make the person who has the golden voice a winner.

But there is a variant to this game that can be used with experienced players: Don't talk about Fight Cyclades! I.e. players are not allowed to say anything about the game other than the actions they are actually taking. Once announced, a move cannot be taken back (so three other players quickly exhaling over the win you just handed a fourth will not permit you to correct course) so the game will flow more smoothly and keep people alert.


+1.


4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kaiwen Zhang
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
flag msg tools
Welcome to Zombo.com!
badge
Art of life
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dont forget that there is luck in the game: someone's path to victory might be improbable due to the battles.

another difficult path relies on Zeus and cycling the creatures to find the right one. there is no guarantee this will work, especially if the bidding is high and the player runs out of funds to continue cycling.

since money is hidden, you're never sure if the plan will actually work.

the philosopher ending is the surest and most predictable path to win and therefore must be the one that's easiest to "forecast" and block. it is only one of multiple paths to end game victory.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Smith
United States
Troy
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The OP's observation that philosophers and universities are weak means he needs to play the game a few more times. Since there are only two ways to get a metropolis: four philosophers or one of each building, getting philosophers is very important. I like to get a couple of philosophers early in the game, which allows me to nab a metropolis on one Athena turn. That puts the other players on the defensive, selecting Athena themselves, which allows me to get the other gods cheaper. It's a very balanced mechanism.
17 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Schenck
United States
Dayton
Ohio
flag msg tools
GO BUCKS!
badge
Stop touching me!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dknemeyer wrote:
determining who "is going to win" is far too transparent and encourages, in the late game, continual engineering and monitoring of "who can win" and audibly discuss how to stop them.

You just summarized the best feature of the endgame! Well, it's my favorite feature anyway. I love the open information knowledge of the potential winners, and the resulting discussions of how to stop them. It makes victory even sweeter when I win despite the fact that every other player at the table was allied against me.


Gaming tastes differ though. I understand that you don't like the way this plays out, but that's just the nature of this particular game. Messing around with variants might yield something more to your taste, but I suspect that ultimately you may have to move onto a different game if you don't enjoy these endgame dynamics.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Collegeville
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Chris, you nailed it - in our games, the endgame auctions have been extremely tense, full of negotiation, accusation, argument, and more often than not, a decent share of cussing. For me, personally, that's a big part of why I play this game - the metagame during the endgame is awesome.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Martin
Canada
Kitchener
Ontario
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Wow, this is the exact same reason I can't stand playing Settlers of Catan anymore. You just took this one right off my radar.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andre Lucato
Brazil
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
e9martin wrote:
Wow, this is the exact same reason I can't stand playing Settlers of Catan anymore. You just took this one right off my radar.


One frame of second where someone else says "I win" is a measly grain of sand compared to a whole enjoyable hour of playing such a great game.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
X Topher
United States
Highland
Indiana
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
haslo wrote:
It's often possible to block all those players who are going to win, and that is indeed what the end game here is all about


Every time I play this I feel as if 2 players are blocking me and the 4th goes on to win.

However, despite this, at the end game I always have that feeling, "gah! just two more turns and I would've won!"
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Guido Gloor
Switzerland
Ostermundigen
Bern
flag msg tools
The statement below is false.
badge
The statement above is correct.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
e9martin wrote:
Wow, this is the exact same reason I can't stand playing Settlers of Catan anymore. You just took this one right off my radar.

It's quite different. I can't quite explain it, but I love Cyclades, while I find Catan somewhat boring. I guess it's because of the whole "multiple ways to win" thing. And because this game has combat.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex P
France
La Plaine St-Denis
Ile-de-France
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
haslo wrote:

It's quite different. I can't quite explain it, but I love Cyclades, while I find Catan somewhat boring. I guess it's because of the whole "multiple ways to win" thing. And because this game has combat.


Probably because Catan relies so much on how the dice come up and Cyclades is almost pure wits.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derek Thompson
United States
Marion
Indiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It's the opposite of Catan. Everyone complains how Cyclades "explodes" at the end, but do you really want to spend an hour sitting there already knowing the outcome?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dirk Knemeyer
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ScottB wrote:
So you don't believe that someone popping four Philosophers out from behind the screen and saying, "Hey, lookee here - I win!" would be equally anticlimactic, if not moreso?


No, I don't. It requires skill to do what you are doing *and* remember what every other person's situation is. It is adding a level of friction between your naturally knowing and no knowing what the situation is. Frankly, the same philosophy that led the designer to make money hidden information would trickle down to be applicable to at least partially hidden "VP status" as well.

ScottB wrote:
Part of what makes this game fantastic is the tension between doing what you need to do to win and doing what you need to do to keep everyone else from winning. It's a feature, not a bug.


For me, it's a bug.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dirk Knemeyer
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Jesse Custer wrote:
And it's not like it's difficult to remember someone buying 3 cards... Also, it opens up the game to Battlestar Galactica-style, "He's already bought two and I know he has at least X coins so he can easily afford..." accusations which will make the person who has the golden voice a winner.


But that's already the case. We were two turns ahead of the potential winners in every case. There was absolute no nuance to it. "If Player A didn't outbid Player B for God X because he was the only one who possibly could, all would lose." That is not interesting decision making; it is railroading an outcome.

Jesse Custer wrote:
But there is a variant to this game that can be used with experienced players: Don't talk about Fight Cyclades! I.e. players are not allowed to say anything about the game other than the actions they are actually taking. Once announced, a move cannot be taken back (so three other players quickly exhaling over the win you just handed a fourth will not permit you to correct course) so the game will flow more smoothly and keep people alert.


I think this would be an improvement over the game as it sits. I also think partially hidden victory information would also be an improvement. They may or may not be mutually exclusive.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dirk Knemeyer
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mvettemagred wrote:
The OP's observation that philosophers and universities are weak means he needs to play the game a few more times. Since there are only two ways to get a metropolis: four philosophers or one of each building, getting philosophers is very important. I like to get a couple of philosophers early in the game, which allows me to nab a metropolis on one Athena turn. That puts the other players on the defensive, selecting Athena themselves, which allows me to get the other gods cheaper. It's a very balanced mechanism.


Is this true in game play? That is, I suspect Athena is a distant fourth in average bid per round because the only virtue to her benefits are straight lines to VPs. Each of the other three contestable gods have critical, tactical abilities ***as well as*** the ability to contribute to a user's VP climb. So while I obviously recognize that Athena is important to get ***at some point*** - other than the late turns - I can't really see a scenario where it would make sense to bid her up. Why not go for things with better tactical benefit and then, periodically, be the one who must "settle for her" cheaply and push out you university and philosopher(s) then? One should not need to win Athena more than...three times at the most as part of a winning strategy?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dirk Knemeyer
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
aldaryn wrote:
It's the opposite of Catan. Everyone complains how Cyclades "explodes" at the end, but do you really want to spend an hour sitting there already knowing the outcome?


FWIW I don't have a problem with the exploding. In general that is the sign of a well balanced engine for a Euro-style game. My problem is with the gamey-ness of the final turn(s) thanks to the complete information WRT victory points. Again, I would want to play more before claiming to have "the" correct solution but it seems to just be screaming for some degree of secret VPs that the players can accrue which "count" at the end of the game. As such the completion of the second metropolis becomes the game timer, not the timer and sole method of crowning a champion.

(to all, not directed to aldaryn)
One of the challenges of posting critical feedback at BGG on game forums is that almost everyone subscribed to that game are fans making it simply a pile on against the critique as opposed to a more balanced conversation. To reiterate my original post, I really, really enjoyed the game. That's why I decided to post: it has so much going for it, I think the end game deserves better. Clearly there are people who like it, and God bless them. But I suspect that for non-fans, this would be a much bigger problem than those who subscribe to the game already.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Collegeville
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dknemeyer wrote:
mvettemagred wrote:
The OP's observation that philosophers and universities are weak means he needs to play the game a few more times. Since there are only two ways to get a metropolis: four philosophers or one of each building, getting philosophers is very important. I like to get a couple of philosophers early in the game, which allows me to nab a metropolis on one Athena turn. That puts the other players on the defensive, selecting Athena themselves, which allows me to get the other gods cheaper. It's a very balanced mechanism.


Is this true in game play? That is, I suspect Athena is a distant fourth in average bid per round because the only virtue to her benefits are straight lines to VPs. Each of the other three contestable gods have critical, tactical abilities ***as well as*** the ability to contribute to a user's VP climb. So while I obviously recognize that Athena is important to get ***at some point*** - other than the late turns - I can't really see a scenario where it would make sense to bid her up. Why not go for things with better tactical benefit and then, periodically, be the one who must "settle for her" cheaply and push out you university and philosopher(s) then? One should not need to win Athena more than...three times at the most as part of a winning strategy?


This is why you need to play the game a few more times before proclaiming it broken. You aren't understanding the valuation of things.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Schenck
United States
Dayton
Ohio
flag msg tools
GO BUCKS!
badge
Stop touching me!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dknemeyer wrote:
ScottB wrote:
So you don't believe that someone popping four Philosophers out from behind the screen and saying, "Hey, lookee here - I win!" would be equally anticlimactic, if not moreso?


No, I don't. It requires skill to do what you are doing *and* remember what every other person's situation is. It is adding a level of friction between your naturally knowing and no knowing what the situation is.

I don't think that adding another memory component to the game will turn this into the game that you're wanting it to be. It'll be the same game, but with an additional advantage to folks who have a better memory.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Guido Gloor
Switzerland
Ostermundigen
Bern
flag msg tools
The statement below is false.
badge
The statement above is correct.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ScottB wrote:
dknemeyer wrote:
mvettemagred wrote:
The OP's observation that philosophers and universities are weak means he needs to play the game a few more times. Since there are only two ways to get a metropolis: four philosophers or one of each building, getting philosophers is very important. I like to get a couple of philosophers early in the game, which allows me to nab a metropolis on one Athena turn. That puts the other players on the defensive, selecting Athena themselves, which allows me to get the other gods cheaper. It's a very balanced mechanism.

Is this true in game play? That is, I suspect Athena is a distant fourth in average bid per round because the only virtue to her benefits are straight lines to VPs. Each of the other three contestable gods have critical, tactical abilities ***as well as*** the ability to contribute to a user's VP climb. So while I obviously recognize that Athena is important to get ***at some point*** - other than the late turns - I can't really see a scenario where it would make sense to bid her up. Why not go for things with better tactical benefit and then, periodically, be the one who must "settle for her" cheaply and push out you university and philosopher(s) then? One should not need to win Athena more than...three times at the most as part of a winning strategy?

This is why you need to play the game a few more times before proclaiming it broken. You aren't understanding the valuation of things.

Either that, or it's really not your kind of game and you should just let it rest.

You are not going to convince the majority in here that what we perceive to be a great feature of the game is the game being broken. You're not going to convince us of what we initially thought, too (namely, that Athena is weak), and you're not going to make us believe that there's regular railroading in this game, because there isn't - the situation you described, that only one player can stop exactly one player in the lead with only one particular action, is very rare. It is often the case that a player has to decide between stopping opponent A or stopping opponent B, by means of measures C, D or E.

That, to me, is an exciting decision. To you, it's probably too influenced by what your opponents are doing, and that's fine - as long as you draw conclusions for yourself from that only. Because what you can easily convince us of is that what we perceive of as a great feature of the game is a feature that makes you, personally, not enjoy the game.

The thing is that this is not a problem with the game itself, but a problem between the game and you. And that, in turn, is easily solved by you not playing the game, and us continuing to enjoy the tight and tense and exciting prolonged endgame it offers after the very first few turns already.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dirk Knemeyer
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
haslo wrote:
ScottB wrote:
dknemeyer wrote:
mvettemagred wrote:
The OP's observation that philosophers and universities are weak means he needs to play the game a few more times. Since there are only two ways to get a metropolis: four philosophers or one of each building, getting philosophers is very important. I like to get a couple of philosophers early in the game, which allows me to nab a metropolis on one Athena turn. That puts the other players on the defensive, selecting Athena themselves, which allows me to get the other gods cheaper. It's a very balanced mechanism.

Is this true in game play? That is, I suspect Athena is a distant fourth in average bid per round because the only virtue to her benefits are straight lines to VPs. Each of the other three contestable gods have critical, tactical abilities ***as well as*** the ability to contribute to a user's VP climb. So while I obviously recognize that Athena is important to get ***at some point*** - other than the late turns - I can't really see a scenario where it would make sense to bid her up. Why not go for things with better tactical benefit and then, periodically, be the one who must "settle for her" cheaply and push out you university and philosopher(s) then? One should not need to win Athena more than...three times at the most as part of a winning strategy?

This is why you need to play the game a few more times before proclaiming it broken. You aren't understanding the valuation of things.

Either that, or it's really not your kind of game and you should just let it rest.

You are not going to convince the majority in here that what we perceive to be a great feature of the game is the game being broken. You're not going to convince us of what we initially thought, too (namely, that Athena is weak), and you're not going to make us believe that there's regular railroading in this game, because there isn't - the situation you described, that only one player can stop exactly one player in the lead with only one particular action, is very rare. It is often the case that a player has to decide between stopping opponent A or stopping opponent B, by means of measures C, D or E.

That, to me, is an exciting decision. To you, it's probably too influenced by what your opponents are doing, and that's fine - as long as you draw conclusions for yourself from that only. Because what you can easily convince us of is that what we perceive of as a great feature of the game is a feature that makes you, personally, not enjoy the game.

The thing is that this is not a problem with the game itself, but a problem between the game and you. And that, in turn, is easily solved by you not playing the game, and us continuing to enjoy the tight and tense and exciting prolonged endgame it offers after the very first few turns already.


This is certainly an arrogant analysis. For the record I was playing with people who HAD played before, and they all agree with my assessment. So, this is not a case of the legions of Cyclades being right and my being wrong; it is obviously a matter of taste.

The purpose of these boards should be to have open and total conversation, not telling someone who dares criticize something you like they should "not play(ing) the game". For the 3rd or more time, I like the game quite a bit. It is not black and white; it is grey.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dirk Knemeyer
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cbs42 wrote:
dknemeyer wrote:
ScottB wrote:
So you don't believe that someone popping four Philosophers out from behind the screen and saying, "Hey, lookee here - I win!" would be equally anticlimactic, if not moreso?


No, I don't. It requires skill to do what you are doing *and* remember what every other person's situation is. It is adding a level of friction between your naturally knowing and no knowing what the situation is.

I don't think that adding another memory component to the game will turn this into the game that you're wanting it to be. It'll be the same game, but with an additional advantage to folks who have a better memory.


You might be right; that might not be the correct solution.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Guido Gloor
Switzerland
Ostermundigen
Bern
flag msg tools
The statement below is false.
badge
The statement above is correct.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dknemeyer wrote:
This is certainly an arrogant analysis. For the record I was playing with people who HAD played before, and they all agree with my assessment. So, this is not a case of the legions of Cyclades being right and my being wrong; it is obviously a matter of taste.

I apologize for the obvious misunderstanding. Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying; it's not a matter of right or wrong, but a matter of preference. When you say that "the game has a big problem" though, that's objectively wrong, because it's only a problem from the point of view of you and gamers who are similarly inclined.

The end game in this game starts around turn three already. That is a fact. During the end game, you're constantly trying to put out fires and keep (most of the) others from winning, and this forces your plays to the extent that you often can't do what would serve yourself best, but you're forced to do one of the two or three things that keep the current leaders from ending the game with an immediate victory, and you have to try and edge out a personal advantage with these plays. That is a fact, too.

Now what is opinion and not fact is whether there's too much of that or not. To me, there isn't; to you, there is. To you, the game would be improved without that particular feature, to me, the game would be worse without it.

All I have problems with is you presenting your subjective findings as fatal flaws of the game, when to me (and apparently others, too), they're neither fatal nor flaws, but actually one of the best things about the game:

dknemeyer wrote:
I consider this a fatal flaw, one that takes a game that is fresh, enjoyable and dynamic throughout and turns it into a carefully engineered "pick the winner" process.

That's the bit I took issue with.

dknemeyer wrote:
The purpose of these boards should be to have open and total conversation, not telling someone who dares criticize something you like they should "not play(ing) the game". For the 3rd or more time, I like the game quite a bit. It is not black and white; it is grey.

Of course, that suggestion of mine might have sounded a bit extreme. Though I must admit that I don't play plenty of games that could maybe be improved (to me) quite a bit with some relatively simple tweaks or house rules. This is because I know that there are both a gazillion of games that I'd love to play but haven't yet, and there are plenty of games that I've played in the past and that I'd love to play again; faced with such a plethora of better options I'd rather just let the games I don't particularly enjoy rest.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.