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Subject: Maybe too many conflicting rules??? rss

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Derek Carver
United Kingdom
Cobham
Surrey, UK
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I love this game and want others to be equally enthusiastic but our game last evening (5 players) produced some frustrating moments for players already familiar with the game and these tended to take the shine off it somewhat.

Players always like to feel that they are playing the game and not the other way round, yet some of the mandatory rules in Vanuatu often deprive players of this initiative.

Firstly there is the superb action selection system that is at the heart of this game. The likelihood of a player ultimately being able to carry out all of his intended actions in the order he planned is often remote. In fact, it often transpires that he is unable to carry out some actions at all! Yet the rules say that if he has a majority available to him he MUST carry out that action (even if it is not to his advantage to do so) In other words he cannot simply remove his markers but do nothing..

Speaking of my own experience last evening, I firstly suffered from the rule that states you must change vatus for victory points immediately you reach 10 vatus. This means one has to try to plan one's income so that you either stop just under 10 or sufficiently over 10 in order not to be totally without money. And this can sometimes go wrong due to the rule I mentioned above.

I found myself with just 1 vatu when I had expected to have 3. I was then forced to take an action that in those circumstances was not to my advantage so ended up with no money at all. And since I was unable to take a character card that would help me I found myself doing nothing whatsoever for the final two turns of the game. This is an 8 turn game and it lasted 2½ hours. And although I did well enough, coming second, that wasn't the point. I simply felt that I was completely powerless against what the game was tellling me I MUST do whether I liked it or not and ended up powerless.

And since at least one other player similarly suffered I'm left wondering whether the enforced changing 10 cash to 5VPs and/or being forced to take an action when it is clearly disadvantageous (or even disastrous) are unnecessary rules in what is already an excellent game system.
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Stuart Carroll
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The rules do emphasise this point:

"Note : This conversion occurs immediately, even if the player still has actions to perform for which they would need the money."

...so it should be part of your planning. Worth noting that when you sell, you may choose how many fish tiles you wish to sell.

I suppose a simple house rule, like being able to take up your entitled amount of vatus would be easy to implement.

I doubt many competitors will complain if you choose to take less than you are entitled to.

Discount fish for sale!
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Ben
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As Alain has pointed out, the rules exist to discourage/disincentivize degenerate blocking strategies. The same holds true for the requirement that you may only select an action that you can perform. If players could select actions freely and then either refuse to perform them or take a smaller benefit to avoid the penalty, vindictive blocking strategies would ruin the game. Instead, the game is designed so that blocking generally occurs only by those who are legitimately competitng to perform the action at issue. The strategy then comes from getting in or out of sync with particular other players so that you can accomplish the most actions for the fewest markers. As written, the game's rules reward skillful planning (and punish poor planning) rather than reward bare interplayer aggression.
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Jimmy Okolica
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Washington Township
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I'm curious... was the Mendiant not available as a role? In our games, very few people grab him but he is great for when you find yourself without any cash. If you pop over 10, you get 5 VP. If you then have to turn 3 of them in so you have $3 (the amount you sart the game with), you still made a 2 VP profit.

Also, could you not Rest and get $1 from there. I realize it delays your income a turn but 2 turns without money seems a little over the top.

Did you also not have any treasures you could turn in?

or tourists that you could deliver?

If you mess up your cash, you may have a limited amount of actions you can take on the next turn; however, during that turn you should be able to get majority on a couple of actions that will give you some cash for the following turn.

or maybe our group just plays this game more gently.
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Jon
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chally wrote:
As Alain has pointed out, the rules exist to discourage/disincentivize degenerate blocking strategies. The same holds true for the requirement that you may only select an action that you can perform. If players could select actions freely and then either refuse to perform them or take a smaller benefit to avoid the penalty, vindictive blocking strategies would ruin the game. Instead, the game is designed so that blocking generally occurs only by those who are legitimately competitng to perform the action at issue. The strategy then comes from getting in or out of sync with particular other players so that you can accomplish the most actions for the fewest markers. As written, the game's rules reward skillful planning (and punish poor planning) rather than reward bare interplayer aggression.


Right on mark. For all the comments of how vicious this game can be, my own attitude is that when something goes wrong for me like losing an action, or having to take an action at a time I didn't want, I blame my own poor planning rather than the vindictiveness of my opponents. I find the rules are excellent at acheiving a great amount of player interaction while still leaving you with ultimate control of your destiny.
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David Larkin
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The traesure tiles are really handy for offsetting an unexpected loss of money
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Derek Carver
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Thanks everybody for your comments - especially Alain, of course. And I would stress that my admiration for the game has not diminished in any way. I simply wish to avoid the possibility of its attraction 'going off the boil' with players.

Just to say in reply to the various question more or less starting with "Were you aware that . . ", the answer is "Yes, we were aware of all these things"

Many different people play at our house and I keep a careful note of all games played, complete with scores and comments. I always find this informative on many levels. I have looked up the record of the previous game of VANUATU that involved mostly the same players. .

Our most recent game - the one that prompted my posting - was a five-player, two of whom (Adam and Dave - I've changed all the names) had never played the game before. On the other hand the other three knew how to play and had played in a recent 4-player here. I have shown this week's scores and the scores (shown in brackets) from the previous game:

Adam 65(new) / Me 60(36) / Clive 52(75) / Dave 35(new) / Eric 34(56)

Such disparity in scoring - especially that illustrated by Eric's scores for two games not that far apart - always raise questions in my mind. And because he was sitting next to me I know he had armed himself with treasure tokens to change for vatus in an emergency. Yet whilst he acknowledged he had made mistakes he ended up with only half the score of the leader (a totally new player) and came away with the impression that the game was playing him a lot of the time.

[Whilst I don't wish to take the posting off-topic I'll give an example of what I mean about 'the game playing you'. It isn't key to my comments but is an example I remember happening to another player - the guy coming second to last. He had the Acheteur and intended sailing to an island to buy a goods cube to load onto a ship, plus a second cube free from the stock - a standard tactic in the game. But he was low in the turn order and he was forced to 'Buy' before he achieved the majority enabling him to 'Sail'. Here again good tactical play by his opponents. But he happened to be next to an island that had on it a cube for which there was no demand on the boats. In all other similar games he would have simply wasted his turn, removed his tokens, and done nothing - all punishment enough one would think. But the rules in Vanuatu twisted the knife in the wound. They say one has to carry out the action if one can. He had enough money to buy the unwanted cube so was forced to do so and then, as also explained in the rules, dump it in the sea because there was no demand for it on the boats. Laughs all round, of course - well, nearly all round - but it didn't really seem logical in a game lasting 2½ hours.]


 
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James To My Friends
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Carver wrote:
Yet whilst he acknowledged he had made mistakes he ended up with only half the score of the leader (a totally new player) and came away with the impression that the game was playing him a lot of the time.


There's a surprise, gamer blames game/dice/cards/other players because they lost.

The only reason you will ever end up doing nothing in a turn is because you have been too greedy in what you want to achieve and have not correctly anticipated other players needs. Make bad choices and face the consequences. For me that is what makes this game so good.
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