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Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game – Fame and Fortune» Forums » General

Subject: Our group didn't like to play with Great People Deck rss

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Paulo Santoro
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The Great People deck is very interesting and fun when you read through it.

But our group didn't like how it affects the game, and I'm glad that the designer stated in the rulebook that the use of the deck is entirely optional (what means we shouldn't expect balancing issues by removing it).

The problem is: the powers in the cards are very strong and bring to the game an intolerable "take that" factor. Culture cards already have some take that factor, but those are weaker and trackable, and one has a limited hand. When playing, you know that some opponent can hinder you by defection, or anarchy, etc., then you can plan ahead - you can even research civil service or take a culture card to cancel the effect of a culture card.

Great People cards, however, are there in dozens, with very different powers, they are open since the start of the game (the more powerful culture cards are II and III) and they can't be canceled by no mean.

Civilization is extremely complex. This deck just adds a lot of chaos. We felt adrift, without strategic control, in both games with the deck.

In our third game with the expansion, we removed the deck, playing with everything else. It was a great Civ experience again, with a lot of new ways to play, but without the chaos added by the GP deck.
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Justin B
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I do kind of wish that the GP deck was more inline with the computer games, where great people have consistent abilities (and all can create a golden age). I think this might have been a more successful design, but then everyone would know what GP cards people have in hand. Perhaps someone will come up with a variant with a toned down GP deck, or a tiered GP deck based on your position on the culture track.
 
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Mercuric wrote:
I do kind of wish that the GP deck was more inline with the computer games, where great people have consistent abilities (and all can create a golden age). I think this might have been a more successful design, but then everyone would know what GP cards people have in hand. Perhaps someone will come up with a variant with a toned down GP deck, or a tiered GP deck based on your position on the culture track.


Not the golden age one, but consistent abilities already implemented. In the base game. The Great People token only, without the cards. The cards are used when people wants some more variety.
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Ted Swalwell
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Also, it's my understanding (and I may be wrong) that great people are always open information. This means that you should know exactaly what your opponent has. So complaints relating to trackability don't hold water for me.

Don't get me wrong - I agree it does definately increase the randomness in what's otherwise one of FFG's less random games, and I do think some of the powers early on could be pretty over-powered (Orvil Wright). This is undesirable. But I do think it adds more than it takes from game. For one thing, it definately makes culture a bit more potent.

I'd probably look to, eventually, change some of the more serious offenders, but keep the deck as a whole.

To each his own, I guess.
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savantt wrote:
Also, it's my understanding (and I may be wrong)


You are. Great people cards are secret until used.
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Man, I haven't even gotten the new expansion to the table yet and people are already taking a dump on it? shake
 
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MScrivner wrote:
Man, I haven't even gotten the new expansion to the table yet and people are already taking a dump on it? shake




Don't be afraid, it's a great expansion! It's just a tiny part that didn't work for us (and optional anyway).
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MScrivner wrote:
Man, I haven't even gotten the new expansion to the table yet and people are already taking a dump on it? :shake:


I haven't gotten to play mine either, but they do seem pretty powerful for something you can get early in the game.

Maybe if they had tiered them like the culture cards. 3 of each type in 3 decks based on where you were on the culture chart. The Airplane and the +8 combat bonus (on top of your +4) seem pretty huge (not saying insurmountable, but compared to +1 coin... or a 1 use bonus).
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After two plays with the expansion, we've started thinking about this too. The deck seems to bring the Great People bit too much into the foreground, while introducing bigger swings into the game. When you get a GP that fits your gameplan well, you benefit greatly, when you get something that does not suit you at all, it's basically the same as you had gotten a GP in the base game - except that you might have put more effort into getting one, knowing the potential benefit.

However, we are not giving up on the deck yet. Our two games have also seen some other quirks that have meant that they haven't been as balanced affairs as they usually are. But if this continues, we'll probably leave the GP deck out as well.

But other than that, great expansion!
 
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Justin B
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Darkmot wrote:
Mercuric wrote:
I do kind of wish that the GP deck was more inline with the computer games, where great people have consistent abilities (and all can create a golden age). I think this might have been a more successful design, but then everyone would know what GP cards people have in hand. Perhaps someone will come up with a variant with a toned down GP deck, or a tiered GP deck based on your position on the culture track.


Not the golden age one, but consistent abilities already implemented. In the base game. The Great People token only, without the cards. The cards are used when people wants some more variety.


Well, the great people tokens represent the ability of great people to settle in cities or improve the terrain, providing extra icons (long term benefit).

What is not represented are the short term benefits of, for example, a great engineer to hurry production (+ hammers), a great merchant to conduct a trade mission (+ trade), a great artist to grant a boon of culture at once (+ culture), and so on. I think it would add a lot of strategy if a player had to say, "Well, I can get 6 instant culture from my artist, or I can plop him down and get +2 culture each time I devote this city to the arts, plus an additional trade each turn...hmmm".

How do these generic abilities sound?

Great Artist:
Discard, Any Time: Gain a great artist token
Discard, City Management: Gain 6 culture
Discard, Movement: (perhaps a minor defection ability, destroy one army figure with 4 squares of one of your cities)

Great Builder:
Discard, Any Time: Gain a great builder token
Discard, City Management: One of your cities produces an extra 10 hammers this turn.
Discard, City Management: Take an extra action with one of your cities. This must be used to build a building, unit, or figure.

Great Industrialist:
Discard, Any Time: Gain a great industrialist token
Discard, City Management: Upgrade one of your buildings for free, even if you have not unlocked that building yet.
Discard, Start of Turn: Gain two free investments. You may not invest further this turn, even with special abilities.

Great Scientist:
Discard: Gain a great scientist token
Discard, Research: You may research any level technology, regardless of how much trade you have, as long as you have room for that technology in your tech pyramid. You must reset your trade dial to 0, no matter how many coins you possess.
Discard, Research: Before you research, you may flip this card over and place it in your technology tree as a level IV or below technology.

Great Humanitarian:
Discard, Any Time: Gain a great humanitarian token.
Discard, Movement: Before you defend in a battle, build one unlocked unit for free.
Discard, City Management: Take any one resource from the market.

Great General:
Discard, Any Time: Gain a great general token.

The great general is unique in that you can choose to settle him in a city or attach him to an army figure. If you choose to settle him in a city, he acts like a normal great person token with no icons. When you build a unit in the city that contains at least one great person, draw one extra unit for each great person in that city. Keep one of the units drawn, and discard the rest. If the city that the great general is in comes under attack, the city gets a +4 combat bonus.
If you choose to attach him to an army figure, place him under that figure and move him with the figure. That army figure gets a +4 combat bonus in all battles. If all friendly figures are destroyed in the square with your great general, he is killed and removed from the game.

During the start of turn phase, you may discard x+1 great people cards, where x is the number of golden ages that you have entered. Your golden age lasts for one turn, and gives each of your cities the following: +2 trade, +2 hammers, +1 culture.
 
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Ricardo Donoso
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I liked the expansion very very much!

It adds depth to the game and make culture [very] interesting.
 
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Gargoyle wrote:
After two plays with the expansion, we've started thinking about this too. The deck seems to bring the Great People bit too much into the foreground, while introducing bigger swings into the game. When you get a GP that fits your gameplan well, you benefit greatly, when you get something that does not suit you at all, it's basically the same as you had gotten a GP in the base game - except that you might have put more effort into getting one, knowing the potential benefit.

However, we are not giving up on the deck yet. Our two games have also seen some other quirks that have meant that they haven't been as balanced affairs as they usually are. But if this continues, we'll probably leave the GP deck out as well.

But other than that, great expansion!


Ok, I have played this expansion finally so I feel like I can comment with at least some authority on it.

And I can't believe I am once again arguing this, but maybe the lack of balance, with the new great persons, is THE WHOLE DAMN POINT.

From a thematic perspective, and it's clear Kevin Wilson's design considerations are slanted toward thematic concerns, the right leader in a civilization SHOULD cause massive swings of luck. Macedonia would have been nothing without Alexander, nor Mongolia without Genghis Khan, nor India without Gandhi, nor the U.S. without Martin Luther King, Jr. I can list more, but I think you see my point. That's the way it works in a real civilization. In my mind, Ancient Greece goes from merely interesting (in the way of Phoenicia or Egypt) to the singlemost influential culture to all of Western Civilization BECAUSE of men like Pericles, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Euclid, etc. It is the GREAT PERSONS that made Ancient Greece so powerful and influential. I am STILL teaching the rhetoric of Aristotle, and the Platonic dialogs in my English class. I am STILL seeing the contributions of Euclid and Pythagoras taught in my son's Geometry classes.

Great people are required for civilizations to be great. Any game that includes them SHOULD have them significantly effect the civilizations that put them into play.

What's REALLY going on here is that this expansion challenges the groupthink. Prior to the expansion, people had tested the waters and gotten a sense of how the game goes, and had become ingrained in their strategic and tactical thinking. And along comes an element that disrupts that, and the whining is suddenly "this is too imbalanced" or "this has too much of a swing effect on the game."

Well it SHOULD, damnit. That's the way it works. Under the leadership of certain men and women, civilizations go from good to great. I am sure that the poor farmers who were cut down by the Mongolian hordes had similar complaints about Genghis. "It's not fair!" they cried. "He's too strong! He shouldn't be allowed to conquer us." If you want to stay on your farm and not have an imbalanced experience, go play Agricola.

Me? I can't see playing thing game WITHOUT the great persons. It's exactly the ingredient the game needed.
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MScrivner wrote:
Well it SHOULD, damnit. That's the way it works. Under the leadership of certain men and women, civilizations go from good to great. I am sure that the poor farmers who were cut down by the Mongolian hordes had similar complaints about Genghis. "It's not fair!" they cried. "He's too strong! He shouldn't be allowed to conquer us." If you want to stay on your farm and not have an imbalanced experience, go play Agricola.


You have me picturing a quiet game of Agricola that is suddenly interrupted when a gang of wargamers burst into the room, overturn the table, and light the box on fire. arrrh

Listen to the screams of the meeples...
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Troll should remember that there are also "great leaders" like george w bush who should harm the civilisation. So make it fair create these persons also. And thematically why only culture creates these persons. If you get defeated in battle you should also have the opportunity to breed dudes like hitler.. Gives boost to economy for two rounds and gives tanks to russians...

Ok.. Fight troll with a troll...

But use or dont. I fully understand this critic for these gperson cards... Basically same issue in twilight empire... But the luck factor is also forgiving.. For the loosing side.."yeah but you had that lucky roll..."


























 
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Ricardo Donoso
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I do not think that the great persons breaks the game at all.

In my last military victory with Spain (reported in the thread tracking victory types) the other players were all cultural, with lots of great persons, they held me a little, the defending player of the final battle even got a bonus airplane from Wright, and he did not had the tech, but my military might could not be held by great persons.

The game after that, the culture winner defeated a Greece focused on great person, the guy not only got a lot of great persons from the culture but he also developed the 1st lvl tech that let he buy great persons for resource and a special title that gives him 2 great persons, he ended the game with 7 great persons, being greek that means that he drew 14 great persons card, but the Arab played better and won.

Great persons are good, but also are investments, developing sailing to move faster and get atlantis, city of gold and confucius academy is also good.

The game was good, now is great!
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Chris J Davis
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MScrivner wrote:
Gargoyle wrote:
After two plays with the expansion, we've started thinking about this too. The deck seems to bring the Great People bit too much into the foreground, while introducing bigger swings into the game. When you get a GP that fits your gameplan well, you benefit greatly, when you get something that does not suit you at all, it's basically the same as you had gotten a GP in the base game - except that you might have put more effort into getting one, knowing the potential benefit.

However, we are not giving up on the deck yet. Our two games have also seen some other quirks that have meant that they haven't been as balanced affairs as they usually are. But if this continues, we'll probably leave the GP deck out as well.

But other than that, great expansion!


Ok, I have played this expansion finally so I feel like I can comment with at least some authority on it.

And I can't believe I am once again arguing this, but maybe the lack of balance, with the new great persons, is THE WHOLE DAMN POINT.


Has it honestly never occurred to you that you're just... y'know... wrong?

Because arguing that the designer is trying to instil in the game an authentic sense of hopelessness and futility of existence as when the rampaging hordes of Genghis Khan come knocking at your door is just... dumb.

An overwhelming sense of dread and pointlessness may be appropriate for when the above actually happens in real life, but maybe not so good due to the random draw of a single card in a civ game.
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First, it's against BGG rules to call someone a troll, especially if all they are doing is disagreeing with your opinion. Consider those who did so reported to admins.

Second, the great person's deck DOESN'T break this game.

It does SWING the game. And my point is that this sort of imbalance is not only appropriate to the theme, but in fact, gives players a new challenge to consider.

What gamers on here don't seem to like is new challenges. They seem to like same-y-ness, as evidenced by how many worker placement style games, or economic enginey style games (or to be honest fantasy themed dudes on a map style games). And this goes beyond theme or mechanics, it gets into what we are comfortable with as gamers. There are still gamers bitching about how Android, ahem, is not the game they wished it was, or how it's not fair how powerful Khorne is in Chaos In the Old World (which is just absurd), or etc etc etc. All I am trying to say is, rather than bitching that a game is not working the way you hoped or expected, try adjusting your play style for once. Try freaking adapting to the game, instead of varianting it away into some new game. Try being actually strategic and tactical, actually taking the strange new game state into consideration and acting accordingly, try actually playing the game as presented to you, instead of playing the game you wished it was in your head. Or go design your own game, that is perfect and flawless.
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petercox1001 wrote:

Second, if you wanna play a game where random card draws will define who wins and loses the game, then cool for you, but many other people don't feel the same way.


But this is gross hyperbole - the game is NOT determined by random card draws. I could see your complaint if I drew the God great person card, and his ability was "win game now."

But NONE of them say this. None of them are even remotely that powerful. They DO give advantages to the civs they join, as they should. And there are enough ways to get rid of them. You don't like my Shakespeare or my Florence Nightengale? Come attack my city. Or play culture yourself, so you get the great person killer card.

Everyone should know what is in that deck before they start to play. Everyone should know that Orville Wright could come out and give me an airplane on the third turn. Everyone should know that Leonidas can swing my militarily weak position into a strong one.

*And EVERYONE has equal access to this deck.*
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Thank you, Mr. Calavera Hermosa, you do speak for me.
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Reminder - calling other users a troll or accusing them of trolling is a violation of the site rules.

If you see something you want to react negatively to, flag it and forget it. Using the icon serves two functions - first, if enough users flag a post then it will be collapsed from general view. Second, flagging posts helps bring them to the attention of the forum moderators.

Thanks!
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MScrivner wrote:
What gamers on here don't seem to like is new challenges.


Let me just stop you there...

No. Just no. It's nothing to do with that at all (and it's quite insulting to keep harping on that that's the case). Your argument defeats itself, because if it weren't for the population of BGG's acceptance of enjoying new challenges, there wouldn't *be* worker placement games, or deck-building games, or whatever. It's only *because* these mechanics come along as a "new challenge" and are accepted as good mechanics that they survive and become popular and therefore repeated in other games.

The mechanic of drawing random cards that heavily sways the outcome of a game is not new and has been determined, in most part and by most people, tried and tested, as a bad mechanic, which thankfully most games have abandoned since Talisman. It is not fun to have most of what is supposed to be a strategy game decided by whether you luckily draw the correct card or not.

Also, although I am a big proponent of theme in games, I am also very aware that there is a line to be drawn; in the same way that a book usually needs to be adapted to make a good film (because the story often can't be told the same way on page than on screen), real life events need to be adapted to make a good game.

So could we please just end this by you admitting that you have really bad taste in games, because really, you seem prepared to accept all sorts of imbalances and bad design choices for the most spurious of reasons. Please.
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bleached_lizard wrote:
MScrivner wrote:
What gamers on here don't seem to like is new challenges.


Let me just stop you there...

No. Just no. It's nothing to do with that at all (and it's quite insulting to keep harping on that that's the case). Your argument defeats itself, because if it weren't for the population of BGG's acceptance of enjoying new challenges, there wouldn't *be* worker placement games, or deck-building games, or whatever. It's only *because* these mechanics come along as a "new challenge" and are accepted as good mechanics that they survive and become popular and therefore repeated in other games.


This is only true up unto a very specific point, and it arguably reflects something about American culture (and to a lesser extent British culture.) Americans seem to like newness, but only prescribed newness, safe newness. We like the rebel, but it's the rebel we choose. REAL rebels, true outsiders scare the crap out of us. It's no different than board games. We like the prescribed safe newness of the new games - we even have a phrase for it on here "cult of the new". Deckbuilding games are new, but they are the prescribed newness, the safe new. When something comes along, however, and it is truly outside the preconceived notions of how things ought to be, then it is absolutely rejected. Your own reaction to Android elsewhere on the site is evidence to this. The outcry against ripping to shreds cards and writing on the game board of Risk: Legacy is another. Interestingly, over time, groundbreaking becomes prescribed newness and then eventually just becomes commonplace - as was most certainly the case with the worker placement.

I would argue that right now, the outsider is imbalance and asymmetry, though they are gaining more and more favor. Eurogames, especially, seem designed with careful balance in mind - they eschew things like runaway leaders, or situations that allow for kingmaking, etc. And so when a game has those things, and it has them BY DESIGN the criticism is that it must be a bad game. But it isn't bad. It's just unexpected. It is outside the zone of prescribed newness.

Quote:
The mechanic of drawing random cards that heavily sways the outcome of a game is not new and has been determined, in most part and by most people, tried and tested, as a bad mechanic, which thankfully most games have abandoned since Talisman. It is not fun to have most of what is supposed to be a strategy game decided by whether you luckily draw the correct card or not.


I think we are in agreement here about games, in general, being decided by a single card draw. Where we are not in agreement is whether or not the Great Persons cards in the new Civ expansion constitute that. Having played, I can say, hell no they don't. I think they add to the asymmetric nature of the game. I think they present some new challenges to the established and comfortable and stale strategies that players have developed. But to say that an ENTIRE game of Civ was decided because one's opponent happened to draw Orville Wright? No, I am sorry. That is simply bad play. What's really going on here is failure to adjust. Knowing that an opponent has played an extremely powerful card, I don't just continue playing my game with blinders on and hope for the best, I adjust. But there are so many beloved games on here where the conflict is nearly-non-existent, a parallel RACE for victory where your choices don't effect me but in the most INDIRECT way. In THOSE kinds of games, YES, some of the great persons would be broken. But CIV isn't those kinds of games. Because in CIV, I can march across the map and burn your city to the ground, killing the person that gave you that advantage. In CIV, I can build an atomic bomb and drop it on the city where that great person lives. In CIV, I can develop cultural advantages that allow me to draw cards that let me just outright kill your Orville Wright. Furthermore, I too can get great persons, so I too could get Sun Tzu or Leonidas or whomever, and suddenly your airplanes are not so powerful any longer. So NO, it is not broken. It is absolutely just a failure to adjust. It is just bad play.


Quote:
Also, although I am a big proponent of theme in games, I am also very aware that there is a line to be drawn; in the same way that a book usually needs to be adapted to make a good film (because the story often can't be told the same way on page than on screen), real life events need to be adapted to make a good game.


Here we'll disagree. I am interested in the place where games and narratives intersect. I want a game to either tell me a story, or to be so intellectually and emotionally engaging that I feel compelled to tell the story of playing it to someone else. I am generally only engaged intellectually and emotionally by games that put me in uncomfortable situations - force me to negotiate or kingmake or lie or make and break alliances, or because of their lack of balance or their asymmetry, force me to adapt new tactics. I like playing as Italy or Austria in Diplomacy, as the Free People in War of the Ring, as the U.S. in Twilight Struggle and as the humans in Battlestar Galactica - all situations where the games are, by design, significantly imbalanced, and by design, I have a statisically more difficult time hammering out a win.

And I think Civ goes in the category of those games like BSG or TS or WOTR where, for thematic considerations, certain players have advantages over other players, where the lack of balance is part of the experience. But the problem is, there are all of these euro-like trappings - such as resource management, building, etc etc, that with the dominant eurogame groupthink around here, it's easy to think that Civ should play out like Through the Ages - a tedious wood-pusher that is more about logistics and efficiency than building an actual civ. And amid all of this, we forget that in human history, some civs had it easier than others, that some civs are still around while others were stomped out, that some civs were better at some things and worse at others, that the military and economy of the great civs will always player a bigger role in their longevity and success than, say, their technology or their culture, and that some great people, when they came along, had such a significant impact on the civilization they were a part of that they changed not only that civilization for the better, but in many cases all of human history. The game captured this before the expansion, and does so even more now. It's incredibly imbalanced, and that's why its enjoyable. There is a civ-themed game on here for people who don't want unpredictability, who eschew the challenge of having to react to a rapidly mutating game state. I just happen to prefer this one - it's far more interesting and accurate a simulation.

Quote:
So could we please just end this by you admitting that you have really bad taste in games, because really, you seem prepared to accept all sorts of imbalances and bad design choices for the most spurious of reasons. Please.


Oddly, looking at your list of top 10 games, we appear to have significantly similar tastes. So if my taste in games sucks, so does yours.
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This is neither here nor there, but the base game of BSG does not favour the Cylons once everyone knows what they're doing. In fact it's very balanced, with humans winning a tad more. Throw in Pegasus and it swings to 65-35 Human, throw in Exodus and it's the other way round, use both and it's balanced again.

Also, I really do think America starting with Orville Wright is really very powerful - I won't say broken. It's not unbeatable, but it's just ridiculous for players to care about aircraft on Turn 3. It's also swingy in the sense that the America player might just unluckily not draw his Aircraft unit. Starting units shouldn't differ so much in power. So no matter what it is, I think it's bad game design that this can happen.
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I honestly don't have much of a problem with most of the great person cards. Orville is powerful, but I don't see him as game breaking. I think it only comes close to this if China happens to draw him. An airplane allows you to get village markers earlier. However, if you attack another player there's a good possibility of you losing your plane if another player uses iron.

The worst offender in the deck I think is Leonidas. His combat bonus is almost as good as 6 coins worth of investment. I think the intent of the card was to help culture players defend themselves a little better, and in this situation it works ok. The problem is if a military player happens to get him with the luck of the draw. In this case it can potentially ruin the game. Yes, GP can be killed, but it's so difficult to do against a strong military early on. I think changing his bonus to defense only, which makes perfect sense considering who he was, would fix the problem.

I agree with what has been said earlier, that the game doesn't need to be balanced perfectly. Luck can make games more exciting by requiring players to adapt. However, it's a delicate aspect of a game because you can get to a point where luck trumps skill and any amount of adapting will not help you. The game designers perhaps went a little too far with a few of the GP cards.

The good news is, if you don't like a particular card you can remove it from the deck or make a house rule. I know there are those of you who have issues with not playing how the game is supposed to be played; I'm one of them. It would have been nice if the designers had put more testing into some things. But ultimately it's about enjoying the game, so I'm going to do what I can to make that happen because I really like this game despite its flaws.

I suppose you could also cross your fingers and hope that the next expansion will offer some replacement cards or civilization sheets.
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Chris J Davis
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MScrivner wrote:
...snipped for space...


Like a moth to a flame, so am I to fruitloopery...

Quote:
Quote:
So could we please just end this by you admitting that you have really bad taste in games, because really, you seem prepared to accept all sorts of imbalances and bad design choices for the most spurious of reasons. Please.


Oddly, looking at your list of top 10 games, we appear to have significantly similar tastes. So if my taste in games sucks, so does yours.


Maybe I should clarify that it's more your taste for what's in the games...?
 
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