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Subject: Handicapping this game rss

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Matt Lashof
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My SO and I love to play this game, but so far I've won every time (as Britain or France), though many games have been close. We've recently applied the new rules as posted by Martin Wallace, which makes raiding more powerful, making the game more dynamic. This has definitely improved the game, but we're looking for something to balance it out between players of (slightly, but it's enough) differing skill, as it is getting frustrating for my SO, she sometimes feels like she'll never win.

What are some things we can do to balance it out?

Specifically, I'd like to impose some kind of penalty on myself, or bonus for her which is discrete and clearly defined, so that I can still play my hardest from thenceforth. Nobody likes to win because their opponent let them win.
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Tim Seitz
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Glen Allen
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You can use VPs.

Start at -5 VPs (or whatever your average margin of victory has been) to your final score. If you win, subtract another and make it -6 for the next game. If you lose, add one and make it -4. pretty soon, you will get to a VP level that gives her 50/50 odds of winning.
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Gavan Brown
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Quote:
as it is getting frustrating for my SO, she sometimes feels like she'll never win.


You play French?

In another thread it's been suggested to try a 6 card hand limit for French... I'm very interested to see how that would play out. As it essentially does NOTHING to effect the mechanics of the game, but it does give the french more options and a place to store their needed (yet unneeded) crap.
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Francis Gauthier
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How about adding the bateaux to your initial deck. It works for both side, isn't terribly handicapping but should slow down your deck a bit.
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Mark Wignall
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Well, two suggestions I've done when playing w/ my kids ...

1. Let her go first, regardless of which side you both are playing.

2. Adjust Income for her beyond starting the starting amount. I use +10 for the kids, but maybe +5 if your games are that close.

Hope this helps.
 
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Matt Lashof
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out4blood wrote:
You can use VPs.

Start at -5 VPs (or whatever your average margin of victory has been) to your final score. If you win, subtract another and make it -6 for the next game. If you lose, add one and make it -4. pretty soon, you will get to a VP level that gives her 50/50 odds of winning.


If I'm taking a VP penalty, could I not alter my strategy to go for the military victory?

RoosterJuice wrote:
In another thread it's been suggested to try a 6 card hand limit for French... I'm very interested to see how that would play out. As it essentially does NOTHING to effect the mechanics of the game, but it does give the french more options and a place to store their needed (yet unneeded) crap.


That seems like it'd be a pretty powerful advantage, I don't know if we want a handicap that big. Also, it seems like it'd be even stronger for the British, and we like swapping which side we play.

Spyzou wrote:
How about adding the bateaux to your initial deck. It works for both side, isn't terribly handicapping but should slow down your deck a bit.


I'm not sure that would actually hurt the Brits. It may make their early attack weaker, but it seems like it might help with an early expand strategy, since they only start with 1 Bateaux (on St Mary's, which also has a settler). As for the french, it could work.
 
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Gavan Brown
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Quote:
That seems like it'd be a pretty powerful advantage, I don't know if we want a handicap that big. Also, it seems like it'd be even stronger for the British, and we like swapping which side we play.


Not sure. You'd have to try it before making that assumption.
 
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Tim Seitz
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Lashof wrote:
out4blood wrote:
You can use VPs.

Start at -5 VPs (or whatever your average margin of victory has been) to your final score. If you win, subtract another and make it -6 for the next game. If you lose, add one and make it -4. pretty soon, you will get to a VP level that gives her 50/50 odds of winning.


If I'm taking a VP penalty, could I not alter my strategy to go for the military victory?

If you want to go for a military victory, just alter the rules so it's not an instant win, it just ends the game. You can settle the location normally and then count up the VPs.
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Ken Dilloo
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Ah, just keep beating her (in the game), she will get better. I swear the only reason my wife plays Agricola with me, is that she takes such joy, when she does actually beat me. Apples and oranges, sure, but if she is still playing, and having fun, fogetaboutit.
 
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Paulo Santoro
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If she likes the game so much that she is still playing in this condition, why don't you discuss strategy with her? Tell what you are doing and why. Show the paths. Learn together new ways. This will be fun and maybe you won't need to handicap.
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Miljenko Murkovic
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Lashof wrote:
I'm not sure that would actually hurt the Brits. It may make their early attack weaker, but it seems like it might help with an early expand strategy, since they only start with 1 Bateaux (on St Mary's, which also has a settler). As for the french, it could work.


That is good idea.. But British side needs bateaux sometimes, if you want to handicep British side, use Ship as extra card, not bateaux.
 
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Tim Seitz
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miljenko wrote:
Lashof wrote:
I'm not sure that would actually hurt the Brits. It may make their early attack weaker, but it seems like it might help with an early expand strategy, since they only start with 1 Bateaux (on St Mary's, which also has a settler). As for the french, it could work.

That is good idea.. But British side needs bateaux sometimes, if you want to handicep British side, use Ship as extra card, not bateaux.

This is so wrong, it's funny. laugh
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Chris Rudram
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Why not try handicapping just on starting money? Increase the French gold, or decrease the British Gold?

Both of these would have a small change, but might be enough to swing the tide.

You could possibly remove a starting location from the board and cards from either side, but some might be a blessing rather than a curse....

 
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Andrew Kluck
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I was under the impression the (perceived?) failure of this game was that one strategy works so well there is no reason to do anything else, why not handicap it in such a way as to limit the effectiveness of HH or give the British player such a greater beginning headache in another part of the map that HH is the least of his concerns.
 
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Richard Young
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miljenko wrote:
Lashof wrote:
I'm not sure that would actually hurt the Brits. It may make their early attack weaker, but it seems like it might help with an early expand strategy, since they only start with 1 Bateaux (on St Mary's, which also has a settler). As for the french, it could work.


That is good idea.. But British side needs bateaux sometimes, if you want to handicep British side, use Ship as extra card, not bateaux.


As I suggested on another thread, how about making both player's start deck the same size? Adding Bateaux and one other (Trader?) to the English start deck are suggestions. Might give the French much needed breathing room?

Another approach I was mulling over was reversing the turn order to have the French go first, particularly on the first round. After that, some in-game balancing mechanism could be used to determine the initiative after that (for example, Brass uses money spent - spend less money, go first)? Money may be more of a driver in Brass than here and thus may be not the best measure, but shows what I'm getting at...
 
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Ken Dilloo
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Is going first really a huge advantage? Imposing your will is nice, but reading and reacting is also pretty critical.
 
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Mike Brewer
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Quote:
My SO and I love to play this game, but so far I've won every time (as Britain or France), though many games have been close.


I also have this issue; I play with my daughter. The issue for me (and, I think, for the person who started this thread) is NOT that there is a dominant strategy: it's that I am a better player than my opponent (she is aged 9...).

Anyway, I would have thought that the first thing to try tweaking is VPs. Of course, giving someone extra VPs doesn't help if your games end with sudden death, so then you can try giving the weaker player extra money, possibly in combination with Tim's suggestion that the sudden death conditions no longer lead to an auto-victory, but merely end the game.

Mike
 
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