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Subject: Liberté: Analysis of “Dagger” variant rss

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dave
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Introduction
I have been a long-time fan of Liberté and think that it is one of the finest, multiplayer strategy games out there. I’ve played a ton of games (100+) as everyone in my group really likes it, and is very smart about playing. The vast majority have been 3 or 4 player games, with just a few 5 and only a handful of 6 player games. The game changes quite a bit as you add players, so this is primarily directed toward the 3-4 player games.

Well I’ve never really liked house rules much as I prefer to play the game as was designed and how it is universally played—especially if the game already was outstanding. If the game’s not very good, well, there’s essentially an infinite amount of games to play, so next. However, with the new edition of Liberte (well, 2010 already), the designer has endorsed this so-called “Dagger” variant (as dubbed here on bgg named for the user who thought it up) which is now the official default rule. Default in that, if all players don’t want to use the new rules, well then you can still play by the old rules. So when we first got the game, I went around the table and it was universally rejected as we all loved the game as it is. Ditto the next time, and soon after it was forgotten other than me wanting to try it sometime. Well it’s taken a while, but we finally tried it.

Overview of Game
Liberté is relatively simple to play (barely 5 pages of rules), but yet has amazingly intense strategy that requires a complex skill set to even begin to master (I have a strategy guide running around my head). The balance of the 3 victory conditions are a thing of genius and no player is ever really totally out of the game. The game is highly replayable and no 2 games are really ever the same. And to top it off, the theme is great—raining the Terror down on historical French revolutionary figures, how much fun is that. It is a thing of beauty and definitely is worthy of a “10” rating.

The Dagger Variant
So the 2010 edition rule changes are:
1) you may play two 1-block cards to place both blocks in the same region [rather than only being allowed to play one card].
2) you may draw two 1-block cards from the 3-card display [rather than only drawing one card].

These 2 rules seem harmless enough and stem from, in part, players complaining about the game being “broken” if you have a bunch of 1-cards in your hand (ie, the game is too luck-based) and somehow the 3-card display bugs people if it isn’t being used all the time.

However, I think these rule changes have a large, albeit subtle, effect on the overall game—much of it is negative as it upsets the balance between the 3 factions and 3 victory conditions. This variant (now official) disrupts the balance of placement of the 3 colors, disrupts the length of the game turns, actually increases the luck factor, and thus effects the balance of the 3 victory conditions. Each of these diminishes the quality of the game.

Upsetting the Balance of the 3 Factions
So 1-block cards compose a full third of the deck (37 of 110 cards). But of these 1-block cards, 17 are Blue, 16 are Red, and only 4 are White. From this composition alone, it is quite obvious that allowing multiple 1-block cards to be played, you are favoring playing more Red and Blue blocks than White. In fact, because the 4 White 1-block cards are all in different regions (ie, different background colors) and there are no white Club cards, you cannot play two 1-block white cards at the same time. This obvious skewing of block placement upsets the delicate balance between the 3 factions—potentially increasing Blue and Red blocks on the board at the expense of White blocks.

On top of this, there are only 16% White cards (17) whereas there’s about 33% of each Blue (37) and Red (36) cards (along with 20 yellow special cards). Even though there are fewer White cards, they have a higher blocks per card average. On average, there are 2.24 white blocks per White card, whereas there’s only 1.67 blue or red blocks per Blue or Red card. By allowing multiple Blue and Red 1-cards to be played at once, you’ve now totally upset this balance between the 3 colors, and as a result, upset the balance between the 3 victory conditions. This is huge effect—and none of it is for the better.

Turn Length
So each of the 4 turns end when one of the 3 faction block supplies runs out, ie, when all of the blocks of 1 of the 3 colors have been played. The fact that now a player can play two 1-block cards at once means he’s putting more blocks on the board and the supply gets depleted faster. More blocks on the board necessarily means that the turn is going to end sooner. And not only does each turn end sooner because of this, because the two 1-block cards have to be in the same region, more often than not, the blocks are going to be stacked so the following turn will also be shorter. This, although subtle, radically changes the game.

So what are the consequences of the turn ending sooner? Obviously each player now has fewer actions per turn since the turn has now ended earlier than normal. Fewer actions means, well, each player has less of a chance to do stuff each turn. The primary impact of this is that a player now will have much less time to draw cards from the deck, and consequently will have less cards to choose from, and less time to implement any kind of strategy that might be planning. Furthermore, with fewer actions per round, it becomes increasing difficult to radically change the board to fit with your victory strategy.

As a result, and I think this quite unexpected, each player is now actually more dependant on the fewer cards that they get to see and thus you’ve now greatly increased the luck factor. Ugg, I can’t imagine this was in anyway intended. The primary reason for implementing the Dagger rules was to try and alleviate some of the luck of the draw by allowing someone to play two “unlucky” drawn 1-block cards at once. So much for good intentions.

Finally, because the turn ends sooner than otherwise, this necessarily means that there is less drawing done overall. Less drawing means that there is a delay in reaching the B deck, and an even greater delay in reaching the end of the deck. The A deck consists of about 46% Blue blocks, 24% Red, and 29% White whereas the B deck consists of only 28% Blue, 53% Red, and 19% White. Obviously be changing the timing of getting to the B deck, you’ve obviously changed the frequency of potentially getting a Radical government which has wide ranging consequences such as making a radical landslide more difficult and neutralizing Terrors. Without the killing power of Terrors, now powerful cards are more powerful because they’re much harder to kill. Thus if you’ve luckily drawn good cards, they will be even better for you and vice versa. Once again, the Dagger rules actually increase the luck factor. This is really an insidious assault on the game.

The thing that makes the game great is it doesn’t matter if you don’t get dealt of good hand—all you have to do is draw until you get one, and you will eventually get a good hand if you draw enough and there’s plenty of time to do it under the old rules. I have done this sooo many times that I know it is absolutely true. That was the beauty of the game, and it all fell into place because of the genius of the victory conditions and the balance of the cards. Victory Points don’t have to matter—just go Red or White and you can still win. Now, with fewer actions, you can’t do this nearly as well and now are stuck with the fewer cards that you get to look at and have less control over the game. These are all very negative influence on the game.

Generals and Battle Victory Points
Finally, and this is a smaller point, but yet still significant I think. There are three 1-block Blue Generals. Thus the Dagger rules now allow for 2 generals to be placed on a single turn! You may not think this is a big thing, but it is. Now it is much harder to target a player from winning the battle since they can play 2 generals at once, and/or it is much easier (less opportunity cost) to play them. In addition, it now makes it significantly harder for someone going white to eliminate all of the generals so that no one wins the battle. This seemingly innocuous rule has now made battle victory points more obtainable, more luck driven (as who draws the 3 1-block generals), and has upset the victory condition balance in favor of victory points.

Conclusion
So we’ve seen how the seemingly harmless Dagger rules (1) greatly change block placement on the board by favoring Blue and Red blocks at the expense of White blocks; (2) greatly shortens each game turn; which leads to less opportunity to change you fortune or implement your strategy and delays getting into the B deck; and (3) greatly upsets the balance between the 3 victory conditions by favoring the victory point win at the expense of a Counter Revolution and Radical Landside.

Obviously quite a few people like this variant, as did the publisher, but I think the rule diminishes the balance and skill of the game in a significant, negative way in which I think most people do not understand (although you’d think the designer would). At least the rules allow for players to play the old way without forcing these bad changes on all of us. There are lots of simple card games that are quite enjoyable, I don’t see why Liberté should be changed to be one of them.

So in final conclusion, I can’t imagine that we will play with these rules again.
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Eugene
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Finally, because the turn ends sooner than otherwise, this necessarily means that there is less drawing done overall. Less drawing means that there is a delay in reaching the B deck, and an even greater delay in reaching the end of the deck.

In your 4p games with original rules, when do you normally reach the B deck?
 
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dave
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garygarison wrote:
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Finally, because the turn ends sooner than otherwise, this necessarily means that there is less drawing done overall. Less drawing means that there is a delay in reaching the B deck, and an even greater delay in reaching the end of the deck.

In your 4p games with original rules, when do you normally reach the B deck?
Hmm, I've never really kept track, but I think maybe more than half the time we get into the B deck during the first turn. I would say that usually 1 or 2 players does some digging in the deck. Blue still pretty much always wins the first election, but red typically comes on strong in turn 2.
 
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Eugene
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We use the Dagger variant exclusively, and we typically always get to the B deck by the end of the first turn.
 
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Tim Gilberg
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dave65tdh wrote:

So in final conclusion, I can’t imagine that we will play with these rules again.


Fantastic breakdown of this rule and its consequences. I've not played this game, having only recently picked it up, but I'll certainly consider playing by the original rules when it hits the table.
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dave
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Gilby wrote:
dave65tdh wrote:

So in final conclusion, I can’t imagine that we will play with these rules again.


Fantastic breakdown of this rule and its consequences. I've not played this game, having only recently picked it up, but I'll certainly consider playing by the original rules when it hits the table.

Tim, Thanks. And absolutely, this really is a super awesome game and you should definitely try it with the original 2001 rules to really get the maximum exposure to this brilliance. It takes a bit to get your heaad around it, but it is well worth it.
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Stuart Dagger
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Dave,

Thank you for an interesting article. You are correct in thinking that the variant began as a house rule but wrong in believing that it had anything to do with wanting to reduce the luck element in the game.

We found in our early games that the display would quickly get clogged up with cards that nobody wanted. As a result "either choose a card from the display or make a blind draw from the top of the deck" would soon turn into "make a blind draw from the top of the deck". This does not break the game or make it unenjoyable to play, but it does take away an element of choice, and the group I play in is one that likes to be given real choices. So I suggested a rule that would restore it by making the 1-block cards more attractive. At that stage it was simply that you could draw 2 cards from the display provided both were 1-block cards and could play two cards from hand provided both were used to place blocks in provinces on the map. I then mentioned the rule in a review I wrote for the magazine that I edit (Counter, issue 16, March 2002). I don't know who then put it here on the Geek, but have no objection to the fact that they did. Since the suggestion left me it has been modified, most recently by Valley, and that is also fine, though we still use my original version.

Any rule change is going to affect the play of a game, though in this case I think that the effects are not great. However, it is in the way of things that whenever there is any change, some people will like it and some won't. What matters here, I would suggest, is that the existence of the variant means that more people will play what you and I both consider to be an excellent game, one of Martin's best. The original rules have not been taken away; you have a choice and the size of the pool that likes one or the other is going to be greater than that of the group that likes either on its own. Result: more people enjoy playing Liberté.

To address a couple of your specific points:
1) You say that with the variant an early win for red or white is less likely. After nine years of using the variant, that has not been our experience. We have had all three finishes on a regular basis.
2) I don't follow your argument that the variant will delay the introduction of the "B" deck. The turn ends when one set of faction blocks is exhausted. In the first turn this is likely to be blue, and where this comes relative to the junction between the "A" and "B" decks is to do with the number of blue blocks on the cards in the "A" deck. The effect of the change to "draw 2 /play 2" will be tiny, if it exists at all.

You are certainly correct in saying that the number of player turns is less if you use the variant and that this affects the speed at which events unfold. I don't think that the difference is huge, but it is certainly there, and I think that this is the point that will determine which version of the game individuals prefer.

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Eugene
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Stuart Dagger wrote:
At that stage it was simply that you could draw 2 cards from the display provided both were 1-block cards and could play two cards from hand provided both were used to place blocks in provinces on the map...Since the suggestion left me it has been modified, most recently by Valley, and that is also fine, though we still use my original version.

Can you clarify a bit more? How does the current version differ from your original house rule?
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Peter Mumford
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Stuart Dagger wrote:
You are correct in thinking that the variant began as a house rule but wrong in believing that it had anything to do with wanting to reduce the luck element in the game.

It seems that a reduction in the number of blind draws and an increase in the number of face up drafts does reduce the luck element in the game.
 
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dave
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Stuart, Ah, you do exist! Thanks so much you for your comments.

So sorry for (wrongly) implying any of your original intentions, as obviously I have little, if any information on that. I guess I assumed these from what I think are typical negative comments on the game (that it’s too luck-driven, chaotic, and the display not being used very much).

And it is a great thing that we both think Liberté is an awesome game and that we both want more people to enjoy/play it—I am 100% behind you on this.

Your comment about variants expanding the potential fan base certainly has general merit and normally I would agree. Howver here I have some serious apprehensions as I think the typical player is only going to play the game a few times at most before conclusively deciding if they like the game or not. And if I was a new player with the 2010 game, of course I would play it as written—with the “Dagger” rules. As I’ve gone on at length above, I think these rules take away from the balance of the game and actually increase the luck factor. If I was a new player, and didn’t know any better, after playing a couple times with the 2010 rules, I would probably dump this game into the mediocre category and move on, never fully appreciating the real beauty of the game. This is what I’m afraid of that we are actually losing players because of this.

Of course you are also right in that some people like variants as others don’t. I am all for analysis of games and the discovery of interesting ideas and variants. I only wrote this up is because the variant has now become the official game. It was very considerate of them to allow for players to continue playing under the old rules, but only if no one wants to play by the new rules so it's not much of a consalation prize.

With regards to your specific points, it is very hard, if not impossible to conclusively decide this based on empirical evidence because so much depends on the play style of individual players and the interaction between them. I think I have made a very compelling argument that Victory Point wins will be more prevalent over Radical Landslides, and both of these over Counter Revolutions. I did not conclude that it would be impossible for a CR win, only that it would be less likely. Thus because you still see CR wins in no way contradicts my argument. I certainly think CR wins are possible, as if they weren’t, no one would like this variant, including you I think.

On your second point, regarding not following my argument on the delay into the B deck. You agree that the number of player turns is less, so doesn’t it naturally follow that less player turns means less drawing, and less drawing means a delay getting to the B deck? Once again, I’m not saying that you won’t get to the B deck, or even that you won’t get to the B deck in the first turn, only that you will not get as far through the deck and players will not have as much time to troll the deck to find what they need.

With regards to not using the 3-card display, I really don't see this as a problem at all. Some games it never get used, and it's really not a big deal. There are plenty of viable choices to be made, and not having a churning 3-card display is not one of the big ones. I think you could do away with it completely and the game would be fine. There is a disadvantage for going first in the turn, even on turn 1 when there's no battle, as the last player gets the last move that cannot be countered by anyone. The 3-card display provides an advantage for the first player as he gets first choice from this. Sometimes we use the 3-card display during the game, but only if there's a particular card there that now has an advantage such as a cannon is now useful for the battle box or a terror is now playable. This comes at a risk though, as the following player now sees what the next card is. With the dagger rules, drawing 2 cards gives the following player a huge advantage as now they get to see the next 2 cards, and one of them is likely to be good. This changes the opportunity cost for drawing cards and once again, I think this change is pretty much all negative.

And I agree that many of these changes certainly are subtle, and may in fact be small in some games. However, collectively, over most if not all of the games, I think they have a significant impact--and an impact that most players won't even appreciate because they have not played the game enough, or critically thought about it enough.

For example, in the game we played it was Blue/Blue/Blue/Red. I won by victory points at about 27 to 23 to something less than 10. The first 3 rounds ended very quickly, and I’m not sure we even got to the B deck the first turn. I had a good Blue hand, and because I was able to play double 1-block blues, I was able to get more Blue votes, stack them up so they carried over, was able to keep more of my better blue cards since I didn't have to play/discard them, and ended the round sooner so the other players had less chance to change their fortunes. One of the players was going Red, but he was denied fishing in the B deck for a significant amount of time and didn't have the actions to transfer the board into Red until the last turn. And the player going for white was hurt even worse as in addition to not getting as many draws, he was unable to kill the last general because the other player played two 1-block generals at once on the final play. White was totally screwed and I don’t’ think it is nearly as viable strategy anymore—not that it’s impossible, just not as viable.

So, if people play enough to really decide which is better for them (such as yourself), well then I have absolutely no problems with this variant. However, I think most people will not do that, or will even begin to appreciate how these innocuous changes can impact the game and thus will not think Liberté is as great of a game as I think it can be under the 2001 rules. My hope is to at least point this out and maybe get people to think about all of the delicious subtles of the game that ofter get overlooked.

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dave65tdh wrote:
On your second point, regarding not following my argument on the delay into the B deck. You agree that the number of player turns is less, so doesn’t it naturally follow that less player turns means less drawing, and less drawing means a delay getting to the B deck?

It's card draws that bring the B deck out, not player turns. If players are using two cards on a turn, they also drew those two cards earlier. Cards cannot be played unless they are first put into one's hand, and putting cards into one's hand depletes the deck.

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With the dagger rules, drawing 2 cards gives the following player a huge advantage as now they get to see the next 2 cards, and one of them is likely to be good.

Not necessarily. Three cards in display, one is a single block card, and the other two are (for the moment) worthless Terror cards. A player draws the single block card. By good fortune, it immediately gets replaced by another single block card. That player takes that one as well, and another card is turned up for the display. The following player sees one card that wasn't there previously, same as if any single card were taken from the display.
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Stuart Dagger
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garygarison wrote:
Stuart Dagger wrote:
At that stage it was simply that you could draw 2 cards from the display provided both were 1-block cards and could play two cards from hand provided both were used to place blocks in provinces on the map...Since the suggestion left me it has been modified, most recently by Valley, and that is also fine, though we still use my original version.

Can you clarify a bit more? How does the current version differ from your original house rule?


I haven't seen the Valley version but was told that they had done a lot more playtesting and made some modifications. From what Dave said in his description, it would appear that now when you use two 1-block cards to place pieces on the map, they both have to go in the same region. In my original version you could play them where you liked.
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dave
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Yes, both 1-plays must be in the same Region (ie, the same color of the 6 on the board) and be a legal play there (ie, must have the correct color and/or be a club card). There's no requirement that they be the same color (could be a red and a blue 1-block cards). I have no idea why they decided to impose this restriction other than not having the exact some rule as Stuart originally devised.
 
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Remus Rhymus
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I recently purchased and played Liberte for the first time. We used The Dagger variant, as they are the default rules for the Valley Games edition. It was a 4 player game, all of us newbies to the game, and we all enjoyed it very much. That said, your analysis is a very interesting read and It's intrigued me enough to want to try playing the game with the original rules next time. Thanks!
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Roger Hobden
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Being able to pick two "one-block" cards from the draw pile could be allowed, but not playing two cards. This really destroys the essence of the game as it should be played. Did Martin Wallace approve of these changes in the rules ?

If I ever buy the new version I will still play with the original rules, thank you.
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Mallet wrote:
Being able to pick two "one-block" cards from the draw pile could be allowed, but not playing two cards. This really destroys the essence of the game as it should be played. Did Martin Wallace approve of these changes in the rules ?

If I ever buy the new version I will still play with the original rules, thank you.
Yep, and I'm even against the drawing of two 1-block cards as I think that give a big advantage to the following player and distorts the intended purpose of the 3-card display (giving the starting player a benefit since he's at a disadvantage).

You've raised a very interering quetions that I bolded. I'm assuming that because his name's on the box and that this variant is now the official rules, that, sadly he did approve of this. And if he did, did he consider this kind of analysis, or did he merely bow to the public saying they like this variant better, or was it just a pile of money? However, maybe he's already given up any design power by assigning all rights to the game in which case I guess he's more innocent, but I'm guessing this is unlikely as I can't see assigning the game with the ability to complete change stuff. I'd like to know the answer to this as well.
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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Disclaimer : I'm very far from being an experienced player of Liberte.

I'm on Stuart's side regarding the issue.
Eventually ending with a frozen display full of 1-block personality cards feels at least weird, if not annoying. Even with my very limited experience, I can see how it would happen very often if not always. There is something wrong. However, it's very clear to me that Start's proposal has impacts beyond the issues it intends to fix. I don't know if Dave is right : maybe those impacts are too strong, maybe not.

The question is : is there a possibility to fix the issue while reducing the impact on the game ?
The reasoning behind Stuart's proposal seems right to me. Making 1-block cards easier to draw only wouldn't fix the issue. They have to be made more interesting to play. Actually, it should do the trick by itself : one will draw them more as a consequence. In theory, there is no need to make them more interesting to draw, only to play.

It seems to me that the perceived issue with the variant mainly lies in the following 3 points :
- Some cards that don't need to be improved are improved. Club cards are as good as 2-block cards on average (flexibility vs. one more block) and the 1-block generals are great cards.
- The relative value between 1-block cards doesn't change. 1-block personality cards that are not generals are still much weaker than the other 1-block cards.
- Being able to place 2 blocks with two 1-block cards changes the balance between the 3 factions (as Royalists have very few 1-block cards) and gives less time to plan and execute your strategy (as turns end faster).

That was my starting point.
The first 2 points are easy to fix in principle : have a variant that only improve 1-block personality cards that are not generals. For the 3rd one, my idea is to boost their impact on drawing only, hence keeping the addition of blocks the same.

Here is my proposal :
"You can discard a 1-block personality card from your personal display to draw a face-up card. This can be done at any time during your turn, whatever the action performed and as many times as you wish."

This variant fixes the 3 issues I mentioned. Only 1-block personality cards give this free draw, generals are unaffected (because you would have to discard them, hence loosing their "general" ability) and you still play one card per turn.
You have to invest to acquire this free draw. You have to draw a 1-block personality card, play it the usual way and have a space for it in your personal display. Furthermore, the free draw is restricted to face-up cards.
However, the benefit is strong. Once played, not only does the 1-block personality card refund the draw action you had to spend to take it, but it gives a much more flexible one. You can now draw one or more cards and play cards (even the ones you just drew) during the same turn.
Said otherwise, 1-block personality cards are free to take (via an investment-refund cycle) and gives flexibility.

Apart from that, it find that this rule change is very simple to understand, may not feel completely out of place thematically and has a reduced impact on the game (compared to Stuart's) while solving the issue.

However, this is all theory. My gaming time is limited, so I'm afraid that I won't have many occasions to try it.
What do the experts of Liberte think about it ? Would you mind trying it if it sounds good to you and report how it goes ?
Thanks !
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tublefou wrote:
Here is my proposal :
"You can discard a 1-block personality card from your personal display to draw a face-up card. This can be done at any time during your turn, whatever the action performed and as many times as you wish."

This variant fixes the 3 issues I mentioned. Only 1-block personality cards give this free draw, generals are unaffected (because you would have to discard them, hence loosing their "general" ability) and you still play one card per turn.
You have to invest to acquire this free draw. You have to draw a 1-block personality card, play it the usual way and have a space for it in your personal display. Furthermore, the free draw is restricted to face-up cards.
However, the benefit is strong. Once played, not only does the 1-block personality card refund the draw action you had to spend to take it, but it gives a much more flexible one. You can now draw one or more cards and play cards (even the ones you just drew) during the same turn.
Said otherwise, 1-block personality cards are free to take (via an investment-refund cycle) and gives flexibility.

Apart from that, it find that this rule change is very simple to understand, may not feel completely out of place thematically and has a reduced impact on the game (compared to Stuart's) while solving the issue.


Interesting. I do think you understand the issues and this rule certainly is better than the 'dagger' variant (and creative), but I don't think it is better overall than the old rules and still affects the game in a negative way without much, if any, benefit.

I'm pretty sure what would happen is now you would just automatically play 1-block cards in your display, since you can always get rid of them so why not. This takes away from the beauty of the display and the choice you constantly have to make about what cards you should put there, and when you should be putting them there. Then when you were going to draw a card, you dump the 1-block card(s) to get additional looks at cards in the deck (or do it when you're not drawing and give a stupidity bonus to the following player as now they get a free look at the card). So intead of drawing just one, unknown card, you get to look at the top card (it's now the replacement card on the display) and then decide if you want it or the next unknown card.

So consider the first turn. In a typical game I usually play 3-5 1-block blue cards which normally are just discarded. In addition, I usually draw many times more than that. With this variant rule, now I would get to swap out 3-5 times in the display, which results in getting to look at 3-5 more cards in the deck which would be drawn. Now multiply that by 4 (in a 4-player game), and all of a sudden we are 12-20 cards deeper in the deck. And this is a pretty conservative estimate since I think you would play more 1-block cards since now there's an addition benefit to playing them.

So because you're 20 cards deeper in the deck, the B deck shows up faster which changes the dynamics of the game (see original post). In addition, players have looked at 20 more cards, thus have collected a better set of cards in their hands, which again changes the game. I see little benefit in using the display more when radically changes the game. Yes this my be a smaller impact on the game than with the Dagger variant, but nonetheless there still is a significant negative impact on the game.

Having a frozen display is not at all wierd (or annoying), it is the normal state of affairs in Liberte. It provides a small, potential advantage for whomever randomly is choose to go first (since it is a general disadvantage to be first in the turn), and provides some limited choice for people throughout the game. It is not meant to be anything more than that so get over it. Seriously, get over it. Spend this energy focusing on the very subtle strategies in the game which are awesome once you start to appreciate them. The original rules are perfectly fine (and awesome).

If you want to play a game with a churning display of cards, there are plenty of other games out there. I would recommend Ticket to Ride--Marklin, one game that we also play frequently.
 
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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Thanks for your input Dave, but you misread a very important part of my proposal, which I tried to highlight as much as possible : this free-draw applies to 1-block personality cards only, not to club cards. Hence I'm not sure your reasoning is relevant.
How often do you take, play or put those cards in your personal display ?
There are 12 of them in deck A, 3 of them in deck B (I removed the 3 generals on purpose because it's very unlikely that you will sacrifice them for the free-draw).

As for the desire to "solve the issue" of the clogged display, I think that we all have to agree that it is mostly a matter of personal taste...
 
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Yes, right. I saw your club card comment, then forgot it. Doh. I still think my analysis is relevant--maybe just not as much so since there are less cards that fit the criteria. As the number of cards diminishes, well it effects the game less and less. But it still is effecting the game.

If the stagnant display bothers you that much, my suggestions would be that you:

(1) play a different game (sorry, glib but true);

(2) just get rid of the display entirely (I think this would have a smaller effect on the game than any other variant I've seen and would certainly solve the problem); or

(3) get rid of the display after all players have chosen not to draw from it. (This way the first player on turn 1 would still have some small benefit, but now you can just get rid of that horribly annoying thing once it's no longer useful.
 
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I'll comment your negatives then !

dave65tdh wrote:
I'm pretty sure what would happen is now you would just automatically play 1-block cards in your display, since you can always get rid of them so why not.

That's the purpose : boost the 1-block personality cards.

dave65tdh wrote:
do it when you're not drawing and give a stupidity bonus to the following player as now they get a free look at the card

This is the case whenever you draw a face-up card, through normal action or the free-draw.
You will probably only do this if the face-up card is interesting enough to risk the flipping of a new card for next player or if you need to play the face-up card this turn. You can also have multiple 1-block personality cards on your personal display to do multiple draws in the same turn if needed. But your personal display is then filled with those cards, giving less room to others... If you need to do the free-draw to free a spot in your personal display, then it necessarily means that there is still - if not more - personal display management with this rule.

dave65tdh wrote:
the B deck shows up faster

Being limited to 1-block personality cards, I'm not sure that cards will be drawn that faster. Again, you need to have such a card in your hand, have some interest in playing it and have a space in your personal display that you are ready to leave occupied until you want to use the free-draw.
 
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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The more I think about it, the more I think you're right Dave : the issue is not the static display. I have experienced static displays in other games (like Ticket to Ride) and it doesn't bother me at all.
The issue is the fact that 1-block personality cards are too weak compared to other cards. One consequence being the over-frequently over-static display.

And my proposal fixes exactly that. Or at least tries
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tublefou wrote:
The issue is the fact that 1-block personality cards are too weak compared to other cards. One consequence being the over-frequently over-static display.

Why then stop at the 1-BPCs and not make every card behave as if they were 3-BPCs? If there is such a thing as cards being 'too weak' with the number of blocks on them being a solid indicator, then obviously the 2-BPCs also need strengthening. Less strengthening, but strengthening just the same. So why is all attention focused on the 1-BPCs?

Whenever I read through these discussions, I am reminded of another game of Martin's, After the Flood. There it was 'established' that by 'waiting' or 'lagging behind' a player could maneuver himself into a position where he had free reign over the board, crushing everyone easily. If you tried to avoid this by taking small actions then the complaint was that the game would become slow, and what would then be the use of these efficient options? The point was, however, that in that 'slowness' game patterns all their own were hiding which had no chance of appearing if gamers approached AtF as a whambamthankyoum'am-type of game. And once you realise that, you also realise that the many proposed fixes are not needed. If you accept the game as it is, it plays just fine.

Liberté is quite similar in this regard. People do not play the game often because it 'feels' rather odd: There is a certain 'slipperiness' to the control the players appear to have over their own destiny. It takes several plays at the very least to begin to get a feel for it; and to hone the skills to actually accomplish what needs doing requires certainly more plays than most people ever get out of this Wallace design. So to begin with it is legitimate to ask how much experience a player has in order to judge the validity of his statements. That sounds berating and patronising, and I certainly do not mean it to come across like that... But the fact remains that there is a lot of subtlety to Liberté which you don't pick up straight from the beginning. It could very well be the case that in the final analysis 1-BPCs are indeed too weak... But it certainly isn't as obvious to me as it is to, exxagerating somewhat, a newcomer who chanced upon this game and enthusiastically read through the rules.

In somewhat more detail: many gamers start off by attempting to win Liberté in the straightforward way, through VPs in the gouvernment or opposition. This means having lots of influence everywhere, and then, obviously, having more blocks to place means a bigger chance at victory. But if you're for example into a royalist counterrevolution, then influence everywhere means squat. You only care about white influence in the CR-provinces, and lost battles. Perhaps that in other areas you try to win at least one popular vote so you can access the power of the special cards; but still: to you the white 1-BPCs will in general be more useful than 2- and 3-BPCs of other colours. Also, the victor is determined by counting white blocks you have under your control, including your cards. Explain to me again why you would want to ignore and/or discard VPs ...?

I should stress the fact that in Liberté those alternate victory conditions are an essential part of the game. It's not like you only rarely encounter them and that everything is determined by control in the government or opposition. Someone who is into winning by straight points whill find it difficult to stop determined alternate victory-pursuing players. And then, perhaps, you actually want weaker cards in the decks: it helps to diversify scores (if every white card is worth 3 VP there isn't much difference), and it helps in increasing the number of cards in the deck and thus reduce luck of the draw with respect to the occurrence of this particular victory condition. If all cards were 3-BPCs then that revolution would occur too frequently to be interesting. If you lower the number of cards to compensate, then luck of the draw increases to the point where perhaps the withholding of several cards can already destroy the outlook for this type of victory, which is again an undesired outcome. As I said: there is a lot of subtlety at work which, at least in my opinion, is not adequately addressed when someone comes along and pronounces the 1-BPCs to be too weak simply because there are less blocks on the card. That said: I have to admit that I find it considerably harder to think of a good reason why there are approximately equal numbers of blue 1-BPCs in the game. Perhaps it simply worked out best in terms of balance, who knows.

As I said, in the final analysis it may be the case that 1-BPCs are indeed too weak. But for now I don't really see the need to change the rules; and in the event that it is necessary I will have clocked up quite a number of enjoyable hours with this game to begin with.
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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Wow. Very interesting read. Thank you very much for that. I wish I could thumb it up more than once.

The only thing I can answer is that I'm not trying to turn every card into a 3-block card. Club cards are a very good example : they can be as great as 3-block cards because they trade blocks for flexibility. And I can feel that this flexibility can be as important - if not more - than straight block placement. 1-BPC trade blocks for nothing. But they can still be the right card at the right moment, I can see that.

My proposal doesn't turn 1-BPC into 3-BPC. Far from it. It turns them into another type of flexible beast. Which makes them different but no less interesting. Just like Club cards.

Is it needed ? I don't know.
The thing is that 1-BPC cards are more circumstantial than other cards (if not, the display wouldn't end up full of those even in expert games) and their strength can only be seen with some amount of experience (I take your word). The perception of this and the associated consequences can detract newcomers from playing. And that's my issue : I love this game, I can already see it's incredible potential but I don't want to ruin it's introduction in my gaming group - especially with the number of other games that we could play instead.
So why not give 1-BPC something that won't harm the game but will make them more attractive to the new player ? And remove it afterwards when it doesn't feel necessary anymore ?

This thread convinced me of one thing : I don't want to play with the Dagger variant.
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cymric wrote:
So to begin with it is legitimate to ask how much experience a player has in order to judge the validity of his statements. That sounds berating and patronising, and I certainly do not mean it to come across like that...

No apologies necessary, Maarten. I've been encountering an all-tastes-are-equal position quite a lot recently on BGG. That fact of the matter is that all tastes are not equal. The tastes of knowledgeable and seasoned judges are more worthy.
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