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Subject: First impressions after one game by someone who rates Dominant Species a 5 rss

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Christopher Rao
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So of course this is a bit of riff on CurtC's excellent first thoughts - http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/716255/first-impressions-aft... . It's amusing to me because I learned DS from Curt last year, and played the same 3-player US game with Curt last night.

First, all the disclaimers that Curt gave. It was just one play.

Second, I haven't written much about Dominant Species (and haven't even written a review in a couple of years), but here's what I think: Chad Jensen is a brilliant designer whose games are positively teeming with great ideas. As a game designer myself, I am certain that a new CJ game will have a bunch of cool new, fresh mechanics, just as I with Chvatl or Martin Wallace. That said, DS, to my mind, suffered from a kitchen sink problem. Specifically, the ability to remove opponent's tokens from the board in the final phase (competition, I think), IMO, added hugely to game time (because it made it much harder plan your moves) without making your decisions much more interesting. Similarly, I don't think the game needed the ability to get extra meeples.

Now, I only ever played DS twice, both times with 5 or 6 players, and I am sure that my experience was influenced by the fact that I routinely spent 15-30 seconds per move, and often waited 5 minutes or more before my next play. This in itself is not so problematic (I mean, I love XX games and other deep games with long down time). But the nexus of long down time with regular, chaotic changes to game state succeeded in reducing player control - which means I had very little to do while waiting for minutes on end. The game state simply changed too much from meeple placement to meeple placement. By contrast, in an XX game, a Rails of the World game, or even Agricola, I might also wait several minutes between turns, but I am rarely bored because I can look at all the interesting info on the board. In any case, I am willing to play DS again, and might easily change my opinion. Less players and/or faster players might help. Regardless of my rating of DS, I maintain that it was a brilliant effort, with tons of juicy new stuff. This is why I really wanted to play CJ's next game. (Also, I have a couple of old designs in my closet involving city-building, so I was curious at CJ's take on this).

Urban Sprawl
Urban Sprawl is indeed a sprawling, ambitious jumble of agame. There are mechanics that remind me of a number of games most prominently Through the Ages (action point costs for cards), but also Elasund: The First City (permitting, building over other player's buildings), Manifest Destiny (global effects in a card-driver engine), London (first edition) (buildings in a draw deck - or in the case of US, 3 different decks), and even Saint Petersburg (warehousing cards for future use). For all these footprints of other games, US is highly original.

After one play, I rate Urban Sprawl a 7 because:

1 The theme is far far more compelling to me than in DS. The way in which different zoning types interact with vocations, political offices (which are won and lost based on what buildings in each type you control) and events is just great. The special abilities of each political office are not only thematic, but also really cool - the Union boss gets a couple of extra actions, the Mayor gets to build (and then control) parks wherever he likes, etc.

2The vocations are particularly cool. The main way you get a vocation is by constructing a building which gives you a specific "bonus" vocation (there are about 8 or so different types- media, education, public service, energy, etc.). If there are none of that vocation left, you get to steal one from another player. Plus, buildings which give you a vocation usually give a bonus to each player for the number of that vocation they have. The player chooses whether to take the bonus in VPs or money. The mechanics of the vocations are not only flawless, but they also integrate the theme beautifully. AND, the person with the most vocations becomes Mayor at the next election (the mechanics of elections are likewise wonderful). Vocations give you lots of player control because they are reasonably static, and I think that the more you play the game, the more you will be able to plan ahead to fully leverage the vocations you have (much as you leverage resources in Through the Ages or Manifest Destiny.

My favorite example of the vocations is the Media vocation. There's only one, and it is pretty stable through the first half or so of the game. Every time there's a event of some sort that hurts lots of players (earthquakes, crime, economic downturns, etc.), the player with media gets 1 VP and $1. The VP and money are not really enough to matter hugely, but the theme - that media sensationalizes all these negative events - come through loud and clear. Moreover, given the current abysmal state of media concentration in this country, it feels thematic to have just one player control all the media! The mechanics of Media are likewise beautiful. The player who spends the least on buildings during the initial set-up starts the game with Media (something that can be planned for). Plus, media breaks all ties for mayor - yes, a mechanic that drives theme handily.

3 The level of chaotic game state in US is both greater than in DS - and, to my mind, better. I have a pet theory about chaotic game state/player control - that a game needs to have either a very low degree or chaos or a pretty high one. My gripe about DS was that it hit just the perfect spot where players who were normally prone to analysis paralysis would grind the game to a halt trying to sort out something that was just possible to derive (as a player who routinely refuses to do this, this just drove me nuts). In US, by comparison, like in London, TTA, and so many other card-driven games, there's just no way to meaningfully predict exactly what will come out on your next turn. And very similiar to TTA, cards rotate down a row, costing fewer actions points as they get lower. This means that even though you don't know what cards will be revealed, you can meaningfully predict whether the other players will spend the necessary action points to deprive you of a card you really want.

4 Many buildings have global effects. This is a neat mechanic for a few reasons, and there are several nifty flavors of these global effects. Some buildings will give X VP's or $ per building of a given type for example, while other buildings force opponents to pay the person who constructs the building. This is cool because it creates some consistency about what sort of incentivizing you have to build various types of buildings (and procure various vocations). Plus buildings must be constructed the turn they are chosen. So the march of progress is pretty inevitable. BUT, and this is yet cooler, each player can pick one building at a time as a "favor" - that is set aside to build later. Because you can only have one favor at a time, the flow of buildings is still predictable (which helps player control). This also allows for planning. For example, if I know that a building pays all players 4 VPs per industrial building that they control, I might set it aside, try to build a couple of industrial buildings, and then play this building to trigger the VPs when it's advantageous to me.

5 The action points mechanics are just brilliant (as CurtC suggested in his review). Like TTA, cards have a different AP costs depending on where they are in the row (actually, there are two rows here, one for permits and one for buildings). But the big improvement is that nothing else costs AP's except for choosing cards. This means that at any point on your turn, you can simply look at what card spaces are empty to determine how many APs you have left. Also, the way that permits work is great - each permit has 3 variables, the size of building it lets you construct, the type of building AND a dollar amount in case you choose to discard the permit for cash instead of using it to build. It's a great dynamic, and a great set of mechanics. Also, various stuff is triggered when a card is revealed, before it is chosen. So these cards brings lots of dynamic stuff into the game (who gets paid for what buildings, when elections happen, etc.), pulling double duty.

What didn't I like about Urban Sprawl

1 Like DS (though not as much), I think it suffers from a few too many good ideas. Great design, in games just as in architecture and films, is often about knowing when to stop adding cool stuff (nifty mechanics, spires, car crashes in the various forms). I find myself wishing that CJ had done one more final pass, simply to streamline some non-essential elements.

2A few of the "too many good ideas" also reduce player control, such as the highly variable events. While I think that you can plan for these colossal events after playing a few times, I'm not convinced that they enough interesting decisions or dynamics to the game. For example, all buildings on the same block have the same value (which is fairly static - a good thing). One random event destroyed all the "lowest value" commercial buildings. Because I hadn't played before, I happened to placed 3 commercial buildings in a place that ended up being the lowest value - and so risked losing them all (in fact, I paid $9 - a princely sum - to save one of the buildings). Because you only construct about one bulding a turn, this effectively wiped out about 3 of my turns. Yes, it could be fairly easily avoided. I'm just not sure it adds enough even so.

3 Overall, the game has about 10--15% too little player control given its time commitment and complexity. This is of course, highly subjective. But given that a game could easily take 3-4 hours, I'd probably usually choose some other deep game with more player control (Le Havre, 18xx, Dungeon Lords, etc.).

4 The catch-up mechanics (to prevent a runaway leader) are clumsy and obvious. The worst culprit is an event which simply takes 4 VPs from the leaders and gives to the player with the fewest VPs. Come on Chad. Really? To me, this signifies a lack of discipline in addressing underlying structural issues which allow a runaway leader in the first place. (I have the same complaint, by the way, for the income reduction mechanic in Age of Steam). This is, to me, another symptom of the kitchen sink - lots of glitzy ideas, not quite design restraint or attention paid to underlying game tensions.

5 Although I rate the theme highly, it bugs me that buildings, once constructed, are completely fungible by zoning type (residential, commercial, industrial, civic). So I construct this very cool commercial building which has lots of neat effects, then just discard the card - so 3 or 4 turns later it's just a yellow building on the map, not a truck stop, car dealership or stock exchange, etc. In Le Havre (possibly my favorite board game), by comparison, the buildings hang around the whole game, adding to the flavor. I will say that the theme in US is still much more immersive than in Le Havre, but this detracted from the theme for me. To put it another way, many buildings have instant effects when constructed, but no buildings have an identity (other than basic zoning) once built. I don't want to have to discard the card after putting my money and sweat into constructing it!

Summary
I don't know of any city-building game that feels as immersively satisfying as this on a thematic level. I mean, you get to be a mayor, a district attorney, a police chief. Very nice. On the other hand, I suspect that the pool of players who I'll enjoy playing this with is pretty small. Our little troika just wanted to have fun, experience the game, and zipped through it - so it wasn't a big deal when random events crippled one of us. But most people who play games this long and complex want to think things through - which is hard with a chaotic game state. God forbid you play it with a typical group of 18xx'ers, or with anyone prone to analysis paralysis. By contrast, some games are really less susceptible to bringing out the paralysis - Le Havre and Rails of Europe, to name two.

EDIT: I also suspect that given this nexus of complexity, time commitment and chaotic events, people who take the game too seriously are likely get pissed off at a fairly predictable clip (Warning!). For me, it's more of a glorious Ameritrashy immersion that might best be played as a semi-role playing experience (see Junta, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, The Republic of Rome).

Again, these are just first impressions. I imagine I'll play it again, and probably have a whole new set of praises and gripes

But overall, I think the game is well worth a try.
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Darrell Hanning
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I suspect the design "minimalism" you seek is least likely to occur with designers who are primarily wargamers, or wargame designers. Wargames are the bastion of chrome, where if ECM is accounted for, that simply calls for the inclusion of ECCM, too.

This is not a bad thing - it's just a different perspective on game design than that of your typical Euro game designer. It can and will result in games with a shift in the spectrum of appeal.

In truth, 18XX games suffer from this, too, and as much as I like them, I still find myself knowing pretty much what I'm going to be doing ten minutes before I get to do it, with not a whole lot that's interesting going on until then. The game state just isn't dynamic enough to hold interest after my own ruminations. (Perhaps a case of too little chaos?)
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Radioactive Man
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Excellecnt review, even if you you're completely wrong about DS.

I would add two more issues with US that I noticed in my two plays. First, because 1/3 to 1/2 of the building decks are not played in every game, there is no way to reliably guard against certain cards even if you get familiar with the deck, as there is a good chance it won't even show up during that game. Second, there is a high degree of fiddliness with determining the value of lots. DS also has the issue with determining dominance, but it's pretty straight forward once you get the hang of it. In contrast, once a good number of the additional prestige and wealth value markers comes out, we found ourselves spending a lot of time trying to determine the highest or lowest value of particular buildings since a fair number of the cards and the elections depend on this. When the majority of the lots of 4 intersecting numbers and those numbers can occasionally be moved, drastically altering the value of the lot, there's simply no easy way to just look at lots and determine their value.

US definitely has some issues but I still liked it. I would play it again, and particularly want to play it with 2 to see if that gives more players a little more chance at control than what I've seen in 4 player games.
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Jon Pessano
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Radioactive Man wrote:
Excellecnt review, even if you you're completely wrong about DS.

I would add two more issues with US that I noticed in my two plays. First, because 1/3 to 1/2 of the building decks are not played in every game, there is no way to reliably guard against certain cards even if you get familiar with the deck, as there is a good chance it won't even show up during that game. Second, there is a high degree of fiddliness with determining the value of lots. DS also has the issue with determining dominance, but it's pretty straight forward once you get the hang of it. In contrast, once a good number of the additional prestige and wealth value markers comes out, we found ourselves spending a lot of time trying to determine the highest or lowest value of particular buildings since a fair number of the cards and the elections depend on this. When the majority of the lots of 4 intersecting numbers and those numbers can occasionally be moved, drastically altering the value of the lot, there's simply no easy way to just look at lots and determine their value.

US definitely has some issues but I still liked it. I would play it again, and particularly want to play it with 2 to see if that gives more players a little more chance at control than what I've seen in 4 player games.


I was spending a fair amount of time figuring out where the most expensive building was so what I did was take the cardboard punchouts and cut out 4 white squares to put on the most expensive building zone.

I realize it can change and you have to keep up on it but it makes it MUCH easier to glance at the board and see where it is

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Mark Buetow
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You could also use the three valuable/not valuable markers that came with the game.
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Larry Levy
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topherr wrote:
That said, Dominant Species, to my mind, suffered from a kitchen sink problem. Specifically, the ability to remove opponent's tokens from the board in the final phase IMO added hugely to game time (because it made it much harder plan your moves) without making your decisions much more interesting. Similarly, I don't think the game needed the ability to get extra meeples.

[Snip]The nexus of long down time with regular, chaotic changes to game state succeeded in reducing player control - which means I had very little to do while waiting for minutes on end. The game state simply changed too much from meeple placement to meeple placement.

Agree entirely. In fact, Christopher is practically channelling my thoughts about DomSpec. An admirable design, but too chaotic and too much downtime for my tastes. And yes, it does seem to suffer from Kitchen Sink Syndrome.

As a result of this, I'm not particularly anxious about trying Urban Sprawl. But if one of my buddies wanted to check it out, I could probably be talked into a game.
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Malacandra wrote:
You could also use the three valuable/not valuable markers that came with the game.


4 zones != 3 chits

I use them for least valuable block and most valuable block (isnt that what they say?)
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Malacandra wrote:
You could also use the three valuable/not valuable markers that came with the game.

Yeah, we figured out the purpose of those right after our second game.
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jonpfl wrote:
Malacandra wrote:
You could also use the three valuable/not valuable markers that came with the game.


4 zones != 3 chits

I use them for least valuable block and most valuable block (isnt that what they say?)

Every building in a block should have the same value.
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dedbob wrote:
jonpfl wrote:
Malacandra wrote:
You could also use the three valuable/not valuable markers that came with the game.


4 zones != 3 chits

I use them for least valuable block and most valuable block (isnt that what they say?)

Every building in a block should have the same value.


But, the CIV, RES, IND and 4th one (whoops) could all be on different blocks so it is nice to see which is the most expensive for each building at a glance.

There are cards that say the most expensive gets

If the most expensive block doesn't have that zone, you have to search for it

Am I missing something?
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Joe
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jonpfl wrote:
dedbob wrote:
jonpfl wrote:
Malacandra wrote:
You could also use the three valuable/not valuable markers that came with the game.


4 zones != 3 chits

I use them for least valuable block and most valuable block (isnt that what they say?)

Every building in a block should have the same value.


But, the CIV, RES, IND and 4th one (whoops) could all be on different blocks so it is nice to see which is the most expensive for each building at a glance.

There are cards that say the most expensive gets

If the most expensive block doesn't have that zone, you have to search for it

Am I missing something?

I understand your intent now. No, that makes sense.
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Jon Pessano
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dedbob wrote:
jonpfl wrote:
dedbob wrote:
jonpfl wrote:
Malacandra wrote:
You could also use the three valuable/not valuable markers that came with the game.


4 zones != 3 chits

I use them for least valuable block and most valuable block (isnt that what they say?)

Every building in a block should have the same value.


But, the CIV, RES, IND and 4th one (whoops) could all be on different blocks so it is nice to see which is the most expensive for each building at a glance.

There are cards that say the most expensive gets

If the most expensive block doesn't have that zone, you have to search for it

Am I missing something?

I understand your intent now. No, that makes sense.


I just wish they gave more chits for most expensive buildings but I guess their punchboards were full

It was easy enough to cut out 4 white square chits to put the cube on so it is easy to see at a glance.

My last game I had to keep trying to figure out the most expensive becauase I was trying to grab them for the politicians

Fun game though
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I would love to see a Jensen game without big, random events. DS might be a 10 game, and get played again, if it wasn't for the events. US seems to be going the other way, and is even event-ier.
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Christopher Rao
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bigloo33 wrote:
I would love to see a Jensen game without big, random events. DS might be a 10 game, and get played again, if it wasn't for the events. US seems to be going the other way, and is even event-ier.
Yeah, I was actually just wondering what the net effect would be of removing most of the more draconian events - or at least toning them down.

Some of the events are fine (once you know them). For example, there are 4 different events, each of which gives 3 bucks/3 VP for the player or players with the most Commercial/Residential/Industrial/Civic buildings. These events, are, I think, certain to come out, and next time I can plan for them.

Some later events (which are, I believe, in various building decks) are much more significant, but equally hard to plan for. Thematically, I get that you just can't plan for this:



It's like, sucks to be you, Miyagi Prefecture.

But you wouldn't necessarily want to include it in a game...
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topherr wrote:

My favorite example of the vocations is the Media vocation. There's only one, and it is pretty stable through the first half or so of the game. Every time there's a event of some sort that hurts lots of players (earthquakes, crime, economic downturns, etc.), the player with media gets 1 VP and $1. The VP and money are not really enough to matter hugely, but the theme - that media sensationalizes all these negative events - come through loud and clear. Moreover, given the current abysmal state of media concentration in this country, it feels thematic to have just one player control all the media! The mechanics of Media are likewise beautiful. The player who spends the least on buildings during the initial set-up starts the game with Media (something that can be planned for). Plus, media breaks all ties for mayor - yes, a mechanic that drives theme handily.


thumbsup

The game has a lot of underlying theme like this, which I really like.

My favorite play so far is constructing a Landfill (which fortunately can ignore Zoning restrictions) next to my opponents' buildings in order to lower their property values (represented by a loss of Prestige) - "You stink!".

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Curt Carpenter
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topherr wrote:
That said, DS, to my mind, suffered from a kitchen sink problem. Specifically, the ability to remove opponent's tokens from the board in the final phase (competition, I think), IMO, added hugely to game time (because it made it much harder plan your moves) without making your decisions much more interesting.

In my experience Migration is significantly harder to plan for, and slower to execute than Competition. But I woulnd't remove either. Competition actually doesn't affact that much (1 cube in up to three different locations). It's just enough to prevent players from knowing exactly how things will end up, but let players control, rather than events. Which is the way I prefer it.

topherr wrote:
Similarly, I don't think the game needed the ability to get extra meeples.

Agreed. I simply don't play with them. Trivial house rule that doesn't affect my rating.

topherr wrote:
Now, I only ever played DS twice, both times with 5 or 6 players, and I am sure that my experience was influenced by the fact that I routinely spent 15-30 seconds per move, and often waited 5 minutes or more before my next play. ... But the nexus of long down time with regular, chaotic changes to game state succeeded in reducing player control - which means I had very little to do while waiting for minutes on end.

Played once (6p) and watched once. 6p is a brutal way to learn the game. And of course is going to have down time. But player for player, DS has way less down time than US.

topherr wrote:
The game state simply changed too much from meeple placement to meeple placement.

I don't understand this comment at all. Nothing changes from meeple placement to meeple placement, other than there being fewer spots available. And if you think DS doesn't let you think ahead, I really don't get how you can like US more, where even in a 3p, you only have the faintest glimmer of what you might be able to do on your turn. Your "favor" is the only thing you can count on.

topherr wrote:
By contrast, in an XX game, a Rails of the World game, or even Agricola, I might also wait several minutes between turns, but I am rarely bored because I can look at all the interesting info on the board.

Exact same in DS. There are 40 actions to choose from. I see no reason why you can't choose which among them you might like. And indeed, that's exactly what most players I know do.

topherr wrote:
After one play, I rate Urban Sprawl a 7

Same

topherr wrote:
A few of the "too many good ideas" also reduce player control, such as the highly variable events.[/b] While I think that you can plan for these colossal events after playing a few times, I'm not convinced that they enough interesting decisions or dynamics to the game.

I've been thinking a bit about this. I have an idea that I might have experimented with: In the Town and City decks, have various scoring "events", except that they're not really events, they're predictions. When they come up, you put them in a row (1-5, only 5 slots, a 6th event would push out the first). In the City/Metropolis decks are "sparks" which cause the events to actually happen. Each spark only refers to a particular number (1-5), and that number fires (and the gap is filled by sliding the others). So you can see which events are going to happen, in order, but not know exactly when they're going to happen. Att game end, all unsparked events get sparked. Chad, you can use that in the expansion, royalty-free.
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Chadwik
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An excellent, balanced, thoughtful review, Christopher.

A few comments, if I may:

Quote:
I find myself wishing that CJ had done one more final pass, simply to streamline some non-essential elements.

Is there anything in particular you would have cut? or is this just a general feeling of too-fullness -- like the cake didn't need frosting?

Quote:
One random event destroyed all the "lowest value" commercial buildings. Because I hadn't played before, I happened to placed 3 commercial buildings in a place that ended up being the lowest value - and so risked losing them all

All that happened here was you learned a valuable lesson: in US, don't build cheap (your statement indicates that you went for the least expensive builds possible, most likely in order to stretch your funds and maximize board presence. This is not an uncommon rookie mistake -- more experienced players tend to avoid low-value blocks, especially with multiple buildings). Cheap builds tend to get hosed; more expensive builds tend to reap rewards. As a general rule you want to go for quality over quantity.

Quote:
The catch-up mechanics (to prevent a runaway leader) are clumsy and obvious. The worst culprit is an event which simply takes 4 VPs from the leaders and gives to the player with the fewest VPs.

Um, no such event exists in the game. Did somebody perhaps read an event incorrectly when you played?

Quote:
I imagine I'll play it again, and probably have a whole new set of praises and gripes


Excellent -- praise and gripe away!

Thanks again for a great read.
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curtc wrote:
I have an idea that I might have experimented with: In the Town and City decks, have various scoring "events", except that they're not really events, they're predictions. When they come up, you put them in a row (1-5, only 5 slots, a 6th event would push out the first). In the City/Metropolis decks are "sparks" which cause the events to actually happen. Each spark only refers to a particular number (1-5), and that number fires (and the gap is filled by sliding the others). So you can see which events are going to happen, in order, but not know exactly when they're going to happen. Att game end, all unsparked events get sparked. Chad, you can use that in the expansion, royalty-free.

That's a pretty good starting point for a possible future variant/expansion, Curt. I like it! Brain churning....
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Christopher Rao
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curtc wrote:
topherr wrote:
That said, DS, to my mind, suffered from a kitchen sink problem. Specifically, the ability to remove opponent's tokens from the board in the final phase (competition, I think), IMO, added hugely to game time (because it made it much harder plan your moves) without making your decisions much more interesting.

In my experience Migration is significantly harder to plan for, and slower to execute than Competition. But I woulnd't remove either. Competition actually doesn't affact that much (1 cube in up to three different locations). It's just enough to prevent players from knowing exactly how things will end up, but let players control, rather than events. Which is the way I prefer it.
You could be right, but for me, it felt like it created a glacial pace.

topherr wrote:
Similarly, I don't think the game needed the ability to get extra meeples.
curtc wrote:

Agreed. I simply don't play with them. Trivial house rule that doesn't affect my rating.
Well, not trivial in any case. It might well make or break the game for me.

topherr wrote:
Now, I only ever played DS twice, both times with 5 or 6 players, and I am sure that my experience was influenced by the fact that I routinely spent 15-30 seconds per move, and often waited 5 minutes or more before my next play. ... But the nexus of long down time with regular, chaotic changes to game state succeeded in reducing player control - which means I had very little to do while waiting for minutes on end.
curtc wrote:

Played once (6p) and watched once. 6p is a brutal way to learn the game. And of course is going to have down time. But player for player, DS has way less down time than US.
My data differs on this last point - which is odd given that I've never played either game except with you (and as you, I rarely feel like I'm waiting for you in any game we play).

topherr wrote:
The game state simply changed too much from meeple placement to meeple placement.
curtc wrote:

I don't understand this comment at all. Nothing changes from meeple placement to meeple placement, other than there being fewer spots available. And if you think DS doesn't let you think ahead, I really don't get how you can like US more, where even in a 3p, you only have the faintest glimmer of what you might be able to do on your turn. Your "favor" is the only thing you can count on.
In DS, elements come out randomly round by round. If I have a strategy that only works with the sun element, for example, and I expect it to be available by my next placement, and it's not available - this itself might force me into a totally different strategy (which is frustrating). In Agricola or Le Havre, by comparison, very few things are piece limited, and even if they are, the depletion is much more predictable. So I might be planning to upgrade my Agricola hut this turn, but when someone takes the stone I need, I just slide to plan B, knowing that I can get that rock next turn. This is a largely subjective point about player control preferences, I'll admit. But for me, just as many games hit a "sweet spot" this alone puts DS into the "sour spot." As you have suggested, maybe we should play DS with 4 players some time (I'll try to contain my gripes as best I can....)

topherr wrote:
By contrast, in an XX game, a Rails of the World game, or even Agricola, I might also wait several minutes between turns, but I am rarely bored because I can look at all the interesting info on the board.
curtc wrote:

Exact same in DS. There are 40 actions to choose from. I see no reason why you can't choose which among them you might like. And indeed, that's exactly what most players I know do.
See previous comment. And whatever it is, can we just agree that it's not "exactly" the same? The precise number of actions to choose from is not a reliable indicator of how chaotic the game state is.

topherr wrote:
After one play, I rate Urban Sprawl a 7
curtc wrote:

Same


topherr wrote:
A few of the "too many good ideas" also reduce player control, such as the highly variable events.[/b] While I think that you can plan for these colossal events after playing a few times, I'm not convinced that they enough interesting decisions or dynamics to the game.
curtc wrote:

I've been thinking a bit about this. I have an idea that I might have experimented with: In the Town and City decks, have various scoring "events", except that they're not really events, they're predictions. When they come up, you put them in a row (1-5, only 5 slots, a 6th event would push out the first). In the City/Metropolis decks are "sparks" which cause the events to actually happen. Each spark only refers to a particular number (1-5), and that number fires (and the gap is filled by sliding the others). So you can see which events are going to happen, in order, but not know exactly when they're going to happen. Att game end, all unsparked events get sparked. Chad, you can use that in the expansion, royalty-free.
This is definitely the direction that I think the game should go, and close to a workable solution, I think. I'd prefer a mechanic where you see the events, but are not certain they will all happen - but rather 80% certain. This keeps the thematic integration better (i.e., in this game, we narrowly avoided the 7.6 earthquake"). (On the other hand, now that I think about it, what's thematic about having an earthquake only hit the least valuable block in the city? I don't think earthquakes work that way....)
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Jesse Dean
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Chad, was it also your intent to make it so that heavily investing in Residential is very dangerous? Perhaps to counter-balance the power of the early, small Residential buildings like the House?
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topherr wrote:
(On the other hand, now that I think about it, what's thematic about having an earthquake only hit the least valuable block in the city? I don't think earthquakes work that way....)

Earthquakes tend to damage cheaper buildings more because they can't afford the engineering to make them more quake-proof.
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curtc wrote:

I've been thinking a bit about this. I have an idea that I might have experimented with: In the Town and City decks, have various scoring "events", except that they're not really events, they're predictions. When they come up, you put them in a row (1-5, only 5 slots, a 6th event would push out the first). In the City/Metropolis decks are "sparks" which cause the events to actually happen. Each spark only refers to a particular number (1-5), and that number fires (and the gap is filled by sliding the others). So you can see which events are going to happen, in order, but not know exactly when they're going to happen. Att game end, all unsparked events get sparked. Chad, you can use that in the expansion, royalty-free.


Wow, this is a great idea!
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bigloo33 wrote:
DS might be a 10 game, and get played again, if it wasn't for the events. US seems to be going the other way, and is even event-ier.


What random events exist in dominant species?

If you're referring to the dominance cards they are not really random events. Every player has the opportunity to put themselves in a position to control how those cards are used and drive their strategy for that turn to benefit the most or be hindered the least by their effects.

Urban Sprawl does have random events but they have less impact on the game than the dominance cards in DS. However these events don't add a real "random" element to the game other than when or if they come. It's not just random cards that give a random person points or money. To me they seem like a way to balance some of the luck in what rows get scored by specifically giving points to a player in the best position in a certain area of the game or hurting someone that is taking advantage of a low value area.



bigloo33 wrote:
I would love to see a Jensen game without big, random events.


Fighting Formations


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Jon Pessano
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How can you have a city building game without random events?

What fun would that be? I live in FL and I know there is a chance (AKA random) I get hit with a hurricane at some point (maybe this week)

I think so many people focus on winning the game and if they don't they feel like it wasn't fun. I do like winning but it doesn't dictate to me if the game was fun or not

Thx
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Chadwik
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doubtofbuddha wrote:
Chad, was it also your intent to make it so that heavily investing in Residential is very dangerous? Perhaps to counter-balance the power of the early, small Residential buildings like the House?

"Very dangerous"? How so?

Quote:
(On the other hand, now that I think about it, what's thematic about having an earthquake only hit the least valuable block in the city? I don't think earthquakes work that way....)

Thematically, those buildings might be the ones least likely to have insurance; the ones most likely to have been built with substandard building practices; the ones whose upkeep was most likely to have been neglected; or be the ones responded to last by emergency crews in a large scale disaster.

Mechanically, there had to be some criteria for which buildings will suffer (checking all of them took too long -- we tried this), and giving players an incentive not to build too cheaply fit well here.
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