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Subject: Random thoughts. rss

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oystein eker
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I sense a kind of strange magic in Urban Sprawl (US) that is hard to explain. I never thought that is so much difference between euro - ameritrash and wargamer categories. But US seems to have polarized wargamers and eurogamers. First, look at the reviews.

Wargamer reviewers initial attitude was -"OK - I usually do not play euros, but it is Chad and GMT, so I will give it a try". And they love US.

Eurogame reviewers initially had high hopes, but was really disappointed.

And Tom Vasel may have ended up in the same trap as Scott Nicholson did with Android. The game needs to be better analyzed to come up with a correct conclusion.

Unfortunalety some thread commentators are cluttering a valuable discussion. They are following Alpha geeks who have played it only once, while they have never played it themselves. They assume game effects, and present them as facts.

And there are few gaming effects that can be proved to be facts. (luck or skill). In our last game a guy was really lucky during first turns. He placed both the "7" and "12" value markers and scored heavily. But ended up in last place. Owning just 3 buildings he lost his money making machine last 1/3 of game. What went wrong. Too greedy and optimize too early? Combined with bad luck? Or just pure once in the lifetime really bad luck? I do not know.

And that is the "problem" with US at this stage. Hard to analyze. In a wargame a player may have tried to roll less than "3" (D2) and failed. You can blaim him for trying to succeed against the odds, and that is a fact.

Your 2cents on:

The luck/playing the odds ratio in US?

Where is the golden "7" in US?*

Learnig curve is short and sweet. What about the experience curve to enjoy the game?

I have no idea myself.

* Rolling 2 D6 dice and average is 7. If your target is 7 then the odds are neutral to succeed. Higher and you are playing against the odds. Lower and you are playing wuth the odds (more likely to succeed)

A great game! BTW.Sweet spot is 3 player.




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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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I love it and I'm no wargamer.
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Chris B
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We just played our first game (4 pl) last night. After the game we talked about it and some common thoughts were:

- none of us had a really good idea of why we ended up in the positions we did;
- the winner did not feel that she "earned" the victory, that it was more the result of luck of the draw;
- we didn't have any good ideas what to do differently next game;
- there was way too much downtime during the game. Because the cards & boards change so much between a players turns it was difficult to use the downtime to plan ahead and;
- it went too long.

The game didn't make any of us say "Wow, I just gotta play it again". I think that the luck/chaos would be minimized with more plays as we learn the nuances and viable strategies, but in my group if a game doesn't hook us early it may not get any subsequent plays.

In response to the OP I would say the "experience curve" that you have to
work through in order to enjoy (understand) the game is quite high - higher than most games I've played.

For me 1 play is not enough to form an opinion of this game.
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Mark Buetow
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I've played several games with my regular gaming pals and aside from the usual AP banter when a guy's taking too long, we've never gone past about 3 hours and none of us have blinked at the downtime as we're all engaged running the end of turn stuff.

I played with my Dad and brother this past week, both of whom like good economic games (Acquire, Wealth of Nations) and enjoy longer and more difficult or simpler games (think Twilight Struggle and Viktory II as favorites).

They didn't hate Urban Sprawl but they did grouse about the downtime and complained they didn't know what to do.

I actually got my dad to play again the next day, two player and I think he enjoyed it a bit more but that was partly because he understood more what was going on.

I have a hunch that those who enjoy long games where your turn involves attacking others (i.e., war gamers!) will enjoy US more than those who are used to longer games with more open information and less direct conflict (i.e., "Eurogamers).

Something else that occurred to me as I played last time is that in the early game, you really need to nail down good position in the rows to take advantage of payouts. But as the game progresses into the Metropolis deck, the really big scores and cash come from the building effects. This is something you can't notice until you've played a few times. This is so pronounced that I actually won a three player game recently while holding only the Mayor. I was that far ahead the other politicians end scores couldn't catch me.

These experiences seem to demonstrate that there are indeed multiple paths to victory and the ability to strategize exists in a real way in the game.

Those who don't like the game won't agree and that's fine. But it's a deeper game than it appears to be after just a few plays.
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Clyde W
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Quote:
Those who don't like the game won't agree and that's fine. But it's a deeper game than it appears to be after just a few plays.
...perhaps...after everyone at the table has memorized all cards in the game.
 
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Ed Bradley
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clydeiii wrote:
Quote:
Those who don't like the game won't agree and that's fine. But it's a deeper game than it appears to be after just a few plays.
...perhaps...after everyone at the table has memorized all cards in the game.


That won't help you when you don't get to see all of the cards every game.
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Mark Buetow
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clydeiii wrote:
Quote:
Those who don't like the game won't agree and that's fine. But it's a deeper game than it appears to be after just a few plays.
...perhaps...after everyone at the table has memorized all cards in the game.


Primarily, learning the cards speeds up the game. However, after several plays, I find I don't have the specifics committed to memory. There's too many results for that.

But there are some important general things to consider that relate to the cards such as houses being in the Town deck and the means by which the big Wealth markers get on the board or the large four-lot buildings in the Metropolis deck which give very large scores.

But as mentioned, all the cards are not seen every game so you can't on them and memorizing them isn't really worth it.

When it's not your turn, you should be busy watching what others are doing so that you can see where they need to be blocked or in what way you can take advantage of what they're doing. As your turn approaches, you can begin planning a little more concretely how you'll do that since you have a better idea of the cards that will be available when your turn hits.

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Clyde W
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clydeiii wrote:
Quote:
Those who don't like the game won't agree and that's fine. But it's a deeper game than it appears to be after just a few plays.
...perhaps...after everyone at the table has memorized all cards in the game.
Indeed...quite right, all, "memorize" isn't the right word. "Be very familiar with" perhaps is more accurate. It's like knowing about Blockade in TS. You absolutely must be familiar with it, and know your opponent might have it in his hand at certain times.
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Curt Carpenter
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Fwing wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
Quote:
Those who don't like the game won't agree and that's fine. But it's a deeper game than it appears to be after just a few plays.
...perhaps...after everyone at the table has memorized all cards in the game.


That won't help you when you don't get to see all of the cards every game.

It would absolutely help. Similar to card counting in Blackjack.
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Jenny Nguyen
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Well, I think my gaming group has unanimously decided to give up on US after just over a dozen games and a couple with various house rules. I was semi-willing to stick it out. US is incredibly playable...but what is the strategy here? There's obviously a crap tonne because we just can't figure it out. Do we go for vocations, do we go for buildings that let US place wealth/prestige markers, why is end scoring so unsatisfying when we've spent the entire game building up the city...My feelings toward US are so hard to articulate.

I've read so many threads where people say you have to play preparing for and preventing overpowered situations (such as when someone gets all the roles or gains a truckload of prestige from building something with a good bonus) but are we really to hive mind the game to do this, and then cooperatively work together to bring someone down? But really, once someone's ahead, you can't bring them down...you're just working to minimise the lead. And what happens when someone is the contractor but owns a bunch of the most valuable buildings...are we really to sift through the decks hunting for cards that let us place/move markers...and it seems counter intuitive to spend 5/6 ap fishing through town/city deck to delay end game.

Those are all my crazy thoughts flying through my mind every game. I (and my group) just don't understand. And I want to, but all you get on these forums are vague counters to people's concerns. I'd been hoping some deep threads would emerge but they just haven't seemed to move past the whole 'this game is too random/no it's not' circle. Anyway, wow, did I have a point or was I just ranting? Ha. So, looking forward to hearing about how you guys approach the game.
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B Bell
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Some thoughts:

-Our game ran about four hours with four people. This was a learning game but early on we spent a lot of time thinking about which spots on the board were most and least valuable. The finding of a web app fixed this greatly and sped the game on.
-One of us had a great first two turns and jumped to an early lead that lasted for several rounds.
-The lead tends to yoyo a great deal, mostly we found in late game.
-We all seemingly went broke about the same time and spent several rounds just building cash reserves.

Overall we walked away liking the game, and never felt that at any point it really dragged.
 
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