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Subject: Pimping the Game, First Turn Problems and Overhang Spaces... rss

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S. R.
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Well, how to begin.
Purchased the game at Essen '11, after hearing of it a day after Essen '10 (were it was presented). Fortunately, this meant that I could preorder and get the really generous discount...

Since then I have been patient. And finally, this weekend, I think I will be able to play it, for the first time.
So I pimped my copy a bit.

Seeing that three of the four primary ressources were made of nice material (wooden cubes, small stones, cloth pieces), I was a bit disappointed by the grey-painted stones that symbolize metal. So I bought some metal pins that look like miniature steel bars or poles, to replace them (I will upload a picture tomorrow).
And if the game will see a lot of table-time in the future (I hope it will), then I will also replace the luxury ressources. Small keys for the locks, small tin miniatures for the statues, fake gems for the jewellery, toy tin swords etc. for weapons (thankfully, I know a lot of tabletop gamers), glass beads for glass. I am, however, not yet sure as how to replace the furniture, and with what to substitute the gold (probably small coins, like those in Dominion).

Also, I made a small turn track, including special information about turns 1, 6 and 7 (for playing the Big and Advanced Game), with a small wooden turn marker. I am not yet satisfied with the outcome, though...
For the design, I used the box front image as background. I hope that is okay (for private use only, of course), and will only upload a picture of it if that is not against the publishers wishes...


The last idea I had concerning my pimped-up version ties in with one of my questions, so it is probably better if I ask it first.

Now, during the game, the Negotiation and Construction Phase are played simultaneously. This could lead to confusion and involuntary "cheating" or mistakes (I guess you would not play with someone who cheats consciously) concerning ressources and construction spaces.
This I will have to explain in a bit more detail.

As haggling goes on during the whole turn, some players will want to already build something while others are still haggling. As it is a constant back and forth, this could happen especially later in the game.
Now, if you want to construct spaces, you would probably want the best possible price for that (if you could afford it or do not want to save precious ressources for the next turn).

Say, you now have fifteen metal, three stone, three cloth, one wood, one statue and one gold, due to a bit of haggling. Not an optimal start, but there you go. Now you want to build the Armory as well as the canal and a flea market (5 spaces in total).
So far, you could only build a maximum of 4 spaces.
Now, you decide to build 3 spaces first (metal, stone, cloth, wood, statue, gold), as this would allow you to build the Armory.

Having built the Armory, you now have an Overhang Space of 1 (meaning you can build one additional space later). Keeping this one space in mind is not a problem, but it can get confusing once you have more than one Overhang Space. That is why I included a "currency" for Overhang Spaces (see below). But let us, for now, just follow the example.

And here comes the problem.
Having built the Armory, you can now manufacture 1 Weapon, as you have 2 cloth and an abundance of Metal left.
Now, you already "bought" the construction rights to 3 spaces using 6 different ressources.
Is it possible to "up" this amount of spaces by simply adding another different ressource (the weapon)? You would then have purchased the construction rights for 4 spaces in total.
Or is it not allowed to "add" to an amount of ressources you have already spent, and you have to start from scratch? Meaning, if we follow the example, that you have to use one metal, one stone, one cloth and the freshly manufactured weapon to purchase an additional space?

However you do it, you are then able to build the canal. If you haggle successfully afterwards, maybe you can place it so that another player benefits from it, and thereby gain some precious other ressource (glass, jewel) or three of them (if you cannot "add" to the already paid ressources, as mentioned above). Which will enable you to save most of your metal and build the flea market anyway.
On the other hand, if you could not close a deal successfully, you could always use 10 metal to get the additional space you need for the flea market...


So, the question is - can you add additional different ressources to an already "paid" purchase of construction spaces, to increase their number? Or is this not allowed, and once a construction space purchase has "gone through", you have to make another purchase...?


Now back to the confusion that could emerge.
If you have to pay the ressources to the appropriate pile the instant you buy spaces (and subsequently construct them), there can be confusion as to what you already paid, and how many spaces you have left as Overhang. Therefore, I would recommend to NOT put back the ressources until the complete round is done. This way, it is always reproducible WITH WHAT you purchased the spaces, and HOW many.
On the other hand, there could arise confusion as to how many spaces you have left to build. As this information could become crucial to the negotiations of other players, I included a "currency" that shows how many Overhang Spaces a player has left.

Fortunately, a friend of mine purchased a copy of Hamburgum which had double the amount of small clay bricks neccessary to play the game. Since I have been dabbling in prototypes for a while now, he gave them to me (maybe I could use them later in a prototype or something).
So I included these clay bricks in the game. They are used as substitutes for said Overhang Spaces. Whenever you purchase spaces and do not build all of them instantly, you take 1 brick for each Overhang Space. This way, every other player can see how many spaces you already have payed for, and can (and probably will) use this turn...
Again, a picture will follow tomorrow.



Finally, I have one last question, this time concerning the First Turn.
In this turn, players can build up to 7 spaces for free. As there is no order of play, and everything happens simultaneously, this could lead to some problems in the game. This is because it can be very important what another player builds where in his first turn, as it could influence what I build. But if everyone waited for the others to build their spaces first, the game stagnates ad infinitum, already in the first round.
So how do we do it? How to circumvent this problem?
Do we need a Start Player for first round only? This leads to advantages for the last players in the turn.
Do we choose buildings and reveal choice simultaneously? That would diminish reaction possibilities, and also would not solve the problem of placement. We would need an order of play(cement), also...
How to tackle this problem? The game is a no-nonsense trading game. So there needs to be some way of doing this in a satisfactory manner...

The last question ties in with this.
Is it allowed to negotiate during the first round, already?
Because placement of buildings can be (once again) crucial in the first round. Building (e.g.) a windmill could benefit the other player, as could a canal etc. Granted, it is not very likely that a player would want to build these early in the game (the margin is much higher when built in mid-game), but a manufacture might...
So, can there be negotiations about placement, future income, and the like? Even without the freebie gold, this could take place!


I hope that someone can help me with these questions.

All best,
Dumon

[Edit] Corrected a calculation mistake
 
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Tim Seitz
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Glen Allen
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I could be wrong, as it has been awhile since going over this, but I don't think that buildings placed immediately allow you to generate additional resources.
 
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S. R.
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Rules Excerpt "Processing Workshops":
"These buildings work the same way as the others, with the added ability allowing a player to combine two Ressources to create a rarer and more precious third. This ability can be used any number of times during a turn, including the turn they are built."
...emphasis mine...
Only basic ressource producing buildings and the bank cannot be used during the turn they are built (as the ressources are only generated in the following production phase, subsequent turn).


However, this does not change the problem. Even if it was not possible, more negotiation could lead to the same situation...


[Edit] Corrected the mistake in the OP...



 
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S. R.
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I am still waiting for your answers on how you do it. Or from the publishers/designers on how it was meant to be played.

Meanwhile, I have come up with some House Rules concerning my own questions.

1. Regarding "Confusion":
As I said above, to avoid confusion, a player should place all ressources that he pays for building spaces in front of him.
Also, he takes clay bricks for each space he does not build immediately, to keep track on how many he has left.
Ressources are only put back into their respective piles/bowls/containers at the end of the round. This should not create problems in the normal game, as the next Production Phase takes place at the beginning of the following turn.
If problems arise with the production of Luxury Ressources (my term, but I guess you know what I mean), as they are produced during the Negotiation and Construction Phase, an adequate way of substitution must be used.
Unfortunately, this does not work when playing the "Free for All" variant. I have not yet found a working solution for this, however (dice for counting ressources work, but then, this method is unwieldy).

2. Regarding "Upping the List of Different Ressources":
When using the first House Rule, all different ressources are still visible. It is, therefore, no problem to add to them another (or more) ressource later on in the same round. Therefore, I would choose to allow increasing the number of different ressources (for gain of additional spaces) during the same turn.

3. Regarding "Negotiation in the First Turn":
As it can be crucial where a specific building is placed, even during the first round, I would highly recommend negotiations during the first turn. Such negotiations can, of course, include promises of ressources produced in subsequent turns, or buildings placed later in the game (and, as all agreements, MUST be honoured).
This would also mitigate some of the problems of order of placement, as mentioned above.

4. Regarding "Order of Placement in the First Turn":
Using House Rule 3, the problem can be mitigated further if, for the First Turn only, the "Time is Gold" variant is always in effect. This is done even if you get the 3 freebie gold, and if you do not use this variant during the other turns of the game.
In doing so, the player placing last would have the advantage of reacting to other players' buildings, but the disadvantage of not getting the gold...
 
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S. R.
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So, here's the photo I promised. A bit blurry, since I only got my mobile camera. Still, I hope you get the idea...


 
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Marius Stein
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Thanks for this thread (because it might resolve the problem whether I'm going to get the game or not :)).

There aren't any answers to your still remaining questions, yet, I guess? Otherwise, would you be so kind and post them here?


*EDIT*
I've just read a short review and might answer one of the questions by myself (without having played the game or even read the rules!). It concerns the question about the simultaneous placement of new buildings: The reviewer wrote that, close to the end of the game, everyone had so many resources that they came up with the rule that everyone is free to just crap needed resources from another player while he or she is doing alike.

So my answer would be: Can't you change the rule (quoted in a post above) that new buildings will already produce resources in the same turn they have been build? If they produce from the next turn only there won't be so many resources either?!
 
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S. R.
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Unfortunately, there have not.
I got an answer regarding another question, months ago, but that was an easier question. It was also accompanied by the advice to tailor the game to my own needs. Something that I do not like that much (after all, I am buying games, not sandboxes).

But I am guessing that not many people have concerned themselves with the questions of this thread...


However, since I posted my House rules above, I have come to some conclusions, that changed the previously mentioned rules...

ad 1.
We have, over the course of the last three games or so (let's call them "the total of games I played"), come to the conclusion that the idea of an Overhang Space ressource is a good, but unwieldy and impractical, idea. Building and shifting around of ressources is most often an affair of one's own. Everybody does it on his/her own, and has no time and/or no interest in what the others are doing at that point.
...primarily this is due to never having played without the "Time is Money" variant, I suppose. On the other hand, I would always include this variant, as it speeds up the game tremendously, and makes it more fun. Although it mitigates the rarity of gold a bit (and maybe too much).
So I guess everyone has to rely on honesty and also on calculation skills of the other players...


ad. 3.
My take on this has completely changed.
I now understand it as a simple business transaction - ressources for spaces. This transaction is concluded once the first building is built on spaces you purchased. Meaning "the deal is done". There is no "shifting the deal", no "upping the ante", no "adding to the deal to get more reward". The deal is done.
Therefore, I would now rule that any luxury goods that are made due to a workshop just constructed can ONLY be used to barter with other players, OR to purchase new space lots...


[Edit regarding your Edit]
I understand your notion, but truth be told, we have never run out of ressources so far. Additionally, I think that it is crucial to be able to use a building forthwith for the tempo of the game. It is something that you can calculate with.
Also, it would not change a thing. The amount of ressources would amass during the next round, then. The difference here is that luxury goods are not produced during the production phase, but at any time during the action phase. Therein lies the crux...
 
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