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Subject: Importance of Nobles rss

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Jonathan Degann
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I've played just once so far. I decided to experiment by ignoring nobles entirely. I did not do well, coming in 4th out of 5, with the player in last position also ignoring nobles. At game end, player order was almost exactly conforming to quantity of nobles.

So my question is: are nobles a "must have"? Do people regard them as being too dominating? Is anyone playing successfully with a "few nobles" strategy?

I'd like to think that there are multiple paths to victory here.
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Derek Thompson
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I think the problem is that you are losing the points for accumulating them (and your opponents probably got even more, and the more you have, the more you score), but you are also losing voting cubes, so were the laws you wanted ratified? If you are doing well at all the possible implemented laws, that's one thing, but not having those extra votes mean they can muscle you out of the laws you were actually working towards...so yes, nobles are good
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1603-1714
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I haven't played a ton, but I do think nobles are very important during the game. As has already been noted, they not only give you points but also voting cubes.

My question, however, was what were you doing instead of getting nobles? I imagine that if anybody completely ignored the laws or completely ignored the battles, he would not do well in the game, just like if someone completely ignored the nobles. There has to be some involvement by players in every one of of these to one degree or another, but focusing of battles does not mean you necessarily have to completely avoid nobles. You may be able to pick a few up relatively cheaply at some point in the game. The other problem with completely ignoring nobles is that you're allowing others to get them more easily.

I do think there are multiple paths to victory, but there are also some things that need to be done to have a fighting chance in the game. I'm sure a player would never fully avoid getting and upgrading his knights and hope to do well, but a player could avoid upgrading his castle and win the game.

Lancaster has a lot to consider and can be very tactical at times, but I do believe that there are many different was to get points and win victories.
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Neil Christiansen
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I suspect it depends on the number of players.

In a recent 5-player game, I focused on a noble strategy and came in 4th. I had the most, but everyone was within 2 of me.

The real issue was that with 4 other players my extra voting cubes were a smaller percentage of those out there, making it difficult to pass laws that I wanted.
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Joe Pastuzyn
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Got to play this game with Neil, above. If you are completetly ingoring nobles, then you should have dominance in some other areas, like most money, most squires, most complete castle since you aren't wasting resources on nobles. This might win depending on laws.

However, I also agree with Neil in that you need a few nobles, just to stay close to the leader. You can also get voting cubes from some of the counties as well. I found I could get some nobles in the last round or two of the game by taking them in the counties. I was able to close the gap on Neil by the end of the game and was only one behind in noble count. That was enough for the win.
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Jonathan Degann
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Going with or abandoning Nobles is different than Conflicts. The escalating points in Nobles suggests that you "go big or go home". This is why I made a strategic decision to experiment by largely ignoring them.

Conflicts are the opposite - you can dabble in the most profitable ones and take home your share of points.
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Kaiwen Zhang
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nobles = aristocrats in St. Pete
 
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Joe Saul-Sehy
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Quote:
In a recent 5-player game, I focused on a noble strategy and came in 4th. I had the most, but everyone was within 2 of me.


I agree. In each game we've played you didn't have to win nobles, but couldn't ignore them altogether. By staying close to the leader in nobles you give yourself a chance to overtake with more points elsewhere.
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John Perry
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I was in that first game with Jonathan, and I decided to neglect my castle. Obviously ignoring the 8 points you can get for the castle is less of a loss than ignoring the 30 (or whatever) points you can get for nobles.

The thing is, if you're going for the castle bonus, you could completely fill out your castle and still get no points if you lose the tiebreaker - so it's a lengthy process with many knights used to get the castle filled and acquire a bunch of gold.

Same thing with the power bonus. It takes too many turns to get 8 points.

With nobles, you're GUARANTEED an increase in score each time you add one. You can't be sniped out of those points by someone at the end of the game (though indirectly they could pass you in nobles in the last turn or two.

But on the other hand, the other players also all neglected the battles.

On the very first turn, I put down a 1 knight on a battle and took the upgrade, and you all kinda cringed, thinking that my knight was wasted for two turns, since nobody else was jumping into the battle. But I scored 6 points for that 1 knight (about 1/10 of my score). And then on the last turn, I used 3 of my knights to score 8 points on a battle (mostly because I didn't have the squires to compete for a bunch of counties).

Jonathan realized the value of the battles later in the game and he and I had a big lead over everybody pre-final-scoring.

I doubt the nobles without the battles would have been enough.

I'm curious to see how the game will go next time - I'm sure everybody will be diving into the nobles & battles game much quicker, so I wonder what will be the deciding factor.
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Jonathan Degann
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Well, John P and I played again with 2 others. This time we were all aware of the importance of nobles, yet for some reason two of the players ended undernourished in nobles with only 4-5. I had 8 and won the game. John had 7 but came in 3rd, behind another player who had few nobles but who got both of the end game majority bonuses.

It does seem as though getting scads of nobles is not optional, so the only question becomes how you collect them - managing your money, getting one as a bonus for entering a war, or forgoing the other local benefit. John may have collected nobles at the game beginning at the expense of developing his knight force. One also has to keep an eye on scarcity - redoubling his efforts to pick up a noble if it's the last one in the category.

FWIW, I ended with eighty points, which seemed impressive to us, anyway.
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Jürgen
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I think nobles are important but not necessary. I played it recently in a 5 player game and finished 2nd, close behind (3VP) from the 1st.

I haven't had any noble, so 0 VP from nobles. I had the strongest knights (8VP), the most completed castle (8VP) and went 2 times to Somerset for 2x6VP (12VP). I got the other VP mainly from battles and a few from laws (the other players also).

It's a strategy which may work, but it feels strange:
While upgrading knights during the first two rounds (at least) the other players may score VP. I've been far behind for a while... until I finished more or less upgrading my knights.
Further, while the other players have a lot of influence in parliament to vote the most interesting laws, I only had 1 marker per parliament phase.

Another point to consider: going for knights and castle works only if there is 1 player. When there are more players going for the bonus points it becomes difficult. With nobles you get the points in any case.
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Daniel Corban
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My experience is that nobles are not a "must have", but if other players are ignoring them, then it benefits you to acquire them. Basically, the entire game feels to me to be "go for what other players are not". For example, in my games, players seem to strongly fight over castle sections. I have ignored them due to this.

If nobles are being acquired quickly by the other players, then it will be more difficult to reach critical mass of them. You may as well grab a few here and there when you can afford it to make the "noble" players work harder and start sweating, but don't go out of your way to get them. Conversely, if you see the other players are not focusing on them, then you should aim for more gold and get as many nobles as you can.
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Mark C
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Only 1 play so not much more than an impression at this point (but I did win decisively). I view this as an engine game --you need knights to get more actions, to get points, but an engine/auction hybrid --to get the best spots, you need to bid the most, via strength/squires. Therefore, I'm looking to get squires and knights, and to a lesser extent money to support point production (3g gets you both in the counties). I had all the nobles at the end, twice using turn order from the previous turn to gain a noble using the king's favor.

No one played particularly well as we were still learning the rules, but I think that model fits from what little I've observed.
 
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Daniel Corban
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Conversely, since I play to "do what other players are not", I have very little need for squires. I use the few I receive to help control the voting in my favour.
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Joel Schuster
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I also think that money is more important than squires, but then it depends on your strategic preferences and the situation at hand.

I am tending to avoid to confront and compete in squires with too many other players. I usually save them only to make one or two really important strikes to take a crucial county before someone else.

But then money is vital to gain both a noble and the regular reward from a county in a single domination. There is only a very limited amount of turns, you each time you are able to take both is a valuable gain.
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alan beaumont
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Importance of Nobles, or not as the case may be
Umbratus wrote:
I also think that money is more important than squires, but then it depends on your strategic preferences and the situation at hand.

Exactly. Depending on the situation either money, squires, or votes will be the crucial requirement in a turn. It is having to adapt to the particular game situation which is what is makes the game demanding and so very good.

Then again Nobles are votes and points, so not getting a fair share is very bad.
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Played our first 2 games with 3 players and I won both times with a hugh lead because I focused on nobles. But i also scored well in the other parts of the game so didn't have to cut corners to get there. 1 player ignored nobles and was last both times. So I guess in 3 player games nobles are important and if 1 player ignores them it leads to an advantage for 1 of the other players.
 
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Alessandro Maggi
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dcorban wrote:
Basically, the entire game feels to me to be "go for what other players are not".

I actually have the opposite feeling about this game. This assertion is generally true for most games, especially WP games, but I feel it doesn't quite match Lancaster as well. The fact is that if you're focusing on one aspect, and you're the only one doing that, chances are that any law supporting your strategy is going to get rejected, making your strategy less efficient.
At the same time if all players compete on the same things the majority requirement becomes a liability weakening the strategy.
The nobles work in a slightly different way, as already mentioned, since they do not require majority to score but their availability is connected to other players' strategies.

It seems to me that a good strategy in this game is to avoid doing something everyone's doing (if any) and focus on more than one aspect, making sure at least one other player is focusing on one of your objectives to have better chances to get beneficial laws approved. Then to win you have to do the best tactical choices and execute your strategy with the best efficiency. It also pays off understanding when to switch focus during the game (when to start grabbing nobles, engage in war, etc) depending on other players' intentions.
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Fred Shugars
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I've played this game 5 times, and every time the player that went hard for nobles won going away. The "take a noble of your choice" bonus when you go to fight the French is extraordinarily over-powered. Not only can you snag the noble you need (or couldn't otherwise get because you lacked the knight), you almost always pick up a point or 2 just for going off to war. If I play again, I think we will have to take out that tile. Couple that with getting the extra vote cubes you can get in the lead and never worry about getting caught.

In a recent 3-person game, I never built a knight over 2, yet won easily because of the nobles.
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alan beaumont
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Importance of awareness
fredact wrote:
In a recent 3-person game, I never built a knight over 2, yet won easily because of the nobles.
And presumably because you were the 1st player and no one thought to take that off you?
The problem may be the opponents, not the tile.
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