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Subject: The Gearing of the Time Track rss

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James Clarke
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Firstly, I feel uncomfortable about querying a choice of rule in a game which I love, by a designer who is my current favourite. Nevertheless, I am curious why it was decided to gear the progression of the time track to the number of action markers moved. I ask this because there doesn’t seem to be a natural relationship between these two facets of the game.

As an alternative mechanism, it would seem that a track that advanced 1 step per turn would be easier to administer and it would also enable all players to plan for a known number of remaining turns. I plan to investigate such a mechanism in our next game, by using (say) one lap of the track as a quarter year. The revealing of the three demand markers would take place at the ¼, ½ and ¾ lap points, to preserve the phasing required by the current rules.

As I see it, the main advantage of the above proposition is that it would avoid the situation which has occurred in all of our games to date, whereby a player can ensure that the game ends on his turn simply by moving his largest group of action markers (often more than 6). This tactic has invariably created an uncomfortable feeling (for all players) that the game ending has somehow been sabotaged, and that players have been denied their final move.

I would be interested to hear of any similar experiences or disagreement with the above.
 
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Adina
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I feel like your complaints, namely the apparent randomness of the years with regards to planning and ending the game "early" on your turn to deny others is the very reason the rule is in place. The nail biting feeling and your inability to completely AP this game with an established turn sequence is why this game is so damn fun and replayable. Just like Goa, it has you wishing you had JUST ONE MORE TURN... ERRR
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Shawn Fox
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There was another thread discussing the unequal turns problem, but I don't think the time track needs to be changed other than at the end of the game play should continue so that each player gets the same number of turns throughout the game. Just remember who the first player was and allow the last turn to continue until the last player has had their turn.

Even with an equal number of actions I'd estimate that the last player is at a 3 to 6 point disadvantage vs. the first player. I'd also give a point bonus to the 2nd/3rd/4th players to help that out, probably start players 2/3/4 with 1/2/3 points at the start of the game.

I haven't played with a rule to give bonus points to the 2nd/3rd/4th players, but at a minimum I'd recommend giving each player the same number of actions at the end of the game.
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James Clarke
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Many thanks for the comments. I concede from these and the earlier thread, that the time track mechanism is generally well appreciated. Also, I admit that the perceived disadvantage of not going first was not a particular issue with us, however, this point is already being debated in the earlier thread.

The underlying motivation for my posting, is the point that it is often in a player’s interest to end this very elegant game with a clumsy, negative blocking move. In essence, this player is summoning an immediate cataclysm (choose your image; Pompeii-like disaster, meteor strike or giant Monty Python foot). I just feel that those clever, scheme-loving Romans deserve more of an opportunity to reconcile at least some of their careful plans at game end.

Perhaps one more round of turns for those players who did not kill the empire (regardless of who started the game), would balance this issue. It should also eliminate that empty feeling that we all invariably get, when the game is abruptly curtailed by the scatter of a large bunch of action markers.


 
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Benjamin Benson
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James, did you ever try your alternate time track version, where you advance one spot at a time and bring out the demand tiles at the 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 spots? If so, how did it play and did you stick with it or return to the designed time track?
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Jeff Pearce
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I think it's a great novelty to the game and it means that some rounds (usually the second and third) are much quicker than others. And I like the fact that sometimes you want that whole one more turn and it's denied because another gamer saw that they you could make a move that would net you some points.

That said, it's not without any issues, and one I would do is to add a few points to the second/third and fourth players. Perhaps in a three player game the second player would get 2 points and the third player would get 4. And in a 4 player game the second, third and fourth players would get 2, 4 and 6 points respectively.

I would also use the variant to allow the last player to pick their option of the ending goal, with the reverse turn order.

That said, having a set number of turns would also help with some strategy, knowing just how many turns each player has (approximately 5) and it doesn't take away from the action selection, as each player still needs to work out each move and attempt to use it to get Trajan tiles.

It's an approach I think can work for some players, but I do enjoy being both the receiver and the administrator of that one more turn game and I think it's something that isn't in enough games.
 
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