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Rex: Final Days of an Empire» Forums » General

Subject: What are we missing? 3/3 Hacan special victories rss

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Fluff Da Sheep
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We've played the game three times so far, the first with 5 players and then twice with 6. We houserule that Xxcha is unable to steal special victories (so Xxcha isn't actively drawing out the game either). All our games sort of followed the same pattern.

One strong alliance attempts to win on strongholds somewhere in the midgame (Hacan was in such an alliance two out of three games, they aren't actively trying to draw out the game). They fail in one of two ways:
1. They get crushed completely because they are spread too thin and lost the key battle for the final stronghold (fourth or fifth). Another alliance tries to win on strongholds following their defeat, but is kept at bay by the other players until the end of the game.
2. They are barely kept at bay for the rest of the game, getting guerilla striked by the other players in their weakest strongholds to keep them from winning.

In both cases, the game draws out to round 8 where there is a final battle for one of the Sol victory strongholds, which Sol and their allies lose. Hacan and their allies win (2, 3 and 2 players respectively).

Now, in all games there were some key battles that made the stronghold pushes fail. Some of these battles were very close, but all in all it seems that winning on strongholds is incredibly difficult if everyone knows what they're doing. A minority of players needs to hold a majority of the board. How do other groups pull off these wins?
 
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Perhaps this should be in the Variants forum, since you're not playing by the rules as written.
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Adam Rouse
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That minor house rule would not affect what he is asking.

But without seeing how you play, I can't answer that. All I can say is it is not typical for the majority of games to end the same way.
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Fluff Da Sheep
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If anything, the houserule makes Hacan special victory less likely, because Xxcha will never actively pursue it (outside of a normal alliance with the Hacan). Even so, the Hacan special victory still happened 3/3 games.

Also, Hacan's special was always plan B, when it became apparent that winning on strongholds was no longer possible. A Xxcha prediction would have changed nothing for the Hacan. I should know, because I was the Hacan in one of those games.

Just pretend the houserule isn't there and that Xxcha did not predict Hacan round 8.
 
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Matt Shinners
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fluffdasheep wrote:

Just pretend the houserule isn't there and that Xxcha did not predict Hacan round 8.


But you can't, because that's not what happened.

Sure, it might have been plan B. However, if people (especially Hacan) thought that Xxcha would steal that victory, he might have had another Plan B. Or maybe he wouldn't have been able to get so many allies who were relying on his Plan B to increase their chances of winning if the stronghold push failed.
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Anthony
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Your houserule does make it slightly more likely because Hacan knows they can push for it with impunity as it could not be stolen...with that being said I think thats a very small effect and therefore not the true root cause.

Can you tell us more about how the game is playing out through the middle. What tends to stop people from winning via Strongholds? Are you getting effective alliances or are people mainly playing on their own and picking on the current leader thus keeping the game in a stalemate? Are people bidding alot on cards and having little influence for deployments...or the other way around?

I really think the root cause will be something in how the middle of the game is played out rather than your house rule though it would have at least a small effect in pushing the game towards your results.
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Jon
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Is Hacan ending up with a pile of influence?

If people are over extending in combat and constantly redeploying people to the board, Hacan is getting rich, no?
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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To be helpful, going for an early win is often a classic newbie mistake, but it doesn't seem like that's what's happening here.
 
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Fluff Da Sheep
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Again, a Xxcha prediction would have made no difference for me, the Hacan player. I had no other plan B, too many of my units were dead to exert any pressure other than the stronghold I had (Mecatol Power South), and I would not have done anything differently. So Matt Shinners and others, kindly stop calling into question what my thinking process was or would have been. The houserule is irrelevant. Xxcha might have done things differently, but not I (nor my ally). Even if Xxcha did act differently, they would just push harder towards what happened anyway. They would then win instead of Hacan, and the point of this thread would still be the same. I hope we can move on now.


Yoren wrote:
Your houserule does make it slightly more likely because Hacan knows they can push for it with impunity as it could not be stolen...with that being said I think thats a very small effect and therefore not the true root cause.

Can you tell us more about how the game is playing out through the middle. What tends to stop people from winning via Strongholds? Are you getting effective alliances or are people mainly playing on their own and picking on the current leader thus keeping the game in a stalemate? Are people bidding alot on cards and having little influence for deployments...or the other way around?

I really think the root cause will be something in how the middle of the game is played out rather than your house rule though it would have at least a small effect in pushing the game towards your results.


I would say our alliances are made for effect. Small sample size of course, but the strongest two players (most strongholds/ strongest board presence) tend to ally the first chance they get.

What stops people from winning is one of two things. Either someone overextends in a late position (because nobody can react that turn) and loses a key battle for the last fortress. The next turn the overextended forces get hammered out of their strongholds and some other alliance is suddenly threatening to win, which usually ends up in the next scenario. (This is what happened to me as Hacan allied with Jol Nar. Jol Nar overextended, thinking they could win, and Letnev/Lazax picked up our pieces. Newbie mistake, perhaps.)

What's also possible is that 2, 3 or even 4 players are coordinating to stop the strongest alliance from winning, which is only necessary for long if they're very powerful. Defend the strongest position or attack them where they are weakest. (This is what happened to the Letnev/Lazax after they invested our former strongholds. I held Mecatol Power South (bottom left), Sol and Jol Nar both fought to hold onto the top left one.)

Influence expenditure seems pretty balanced. People get to deploy most of what they can recruit, and almost everyone has plenty of cards. Hacan gets very rich indeed, but Hacan's forces are very dead and he can only recruit so many every turn. Even with the two Fresh Recruit cards being handed to him by his Jol Nar ally, he has trouble exerting pressure against the four other players, especially Lazax.
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Jason O'Donnell
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I have played several times with a mix of experienced Dune players and new players. So far, no game has gone to turn 8.

I think the key is an experienced player playing the Sol. IMO, Sol is the hardest to play and therefore can lose their special victory condition easily.

I have not yet grokked how the differences in Rex will ultimately change the balance and strategy of play from Dune.
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D P
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Out of curiousity, why bother with the house rule? It's essentially nerfing the Xxchaa without penalizing anyone else. Why wouldn't you also remove the special victory conditions for everyone else as well as the victory conditions are all part of the race balancing?

This particular item could be a MAJOR reason why you're experiencing the same victory condition each time and the Xxchaa player loses a major bargaining chip which could have a dramatic effect on game end.
 
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Chris J Davis
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DeathInc wrote:
Out of curiousity, why bother with the house rule? It's essentially nerfing the Xxchaa without penalizing anyone else. Why wouldn't you also remove the special victory conditions for everyone else as well as the victory conditions are all part of the race balancing?


"Race balancing"...? What is this concept of which you speak?
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Fluff Da Sheep
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DeathInc wrote:
Out of curiousity, why bother with the house rule? It's essentially nerfing the Xxchaa without penalizing anyone else. Why wouldn't you also remove the special victory conditions for everyone else as well as the victory conditions are all part of the race balancing?

This particular item could be a MAJOR reason why you're experiencing the same victory condition each time and the Xxchaa player loses a major bargaining chip which could have a dramatic effect on game end.


The house rule is there to prevent Xxcha from drawing out the game until round 8. In fact, it incentivizes Xxcha to make the game end early (or late, whatever they choose) with a stronghold victory.

I realize that this means Hacan and Sol are free to try and go for their special without risk of it being stolen, but again, in our games, pursuing these conditions has not once been a matter of choice, but rather necessity: when it is the only remaining way to win. They would have done the same even if the possibility existed that Xxcha would steal the win. (Also, the 5 player game doesn't even have Xxcha, so the game should already be balanced for specials that cannot be stolen.)

The houserule exists to mitigate exactly what is happening to our games, and I am 100% sure it is effective in that regard. If your games never go to round 8... then none of your Xxcha players will predict Hacan round 8, will they (though I suggest they try and see what happens)? You would not need the houserule at all. Once our games start ending more quickly, I will reconsider the need for the houserule.

We play again on Saturday, 6 players, perhaps things will be different then.
 
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Darrell Pavitt
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By not using that house rule, the Hacan will not be able to rely on winning at the end of the game, and will have to actively get out there and play.

Instead of having the Xxcha prolong the game, you have just substituted having the Hacan prolonging the game. Only a fool Xxcha would go for a turn 8 Hacan victory every game, in any case.
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Fluff Da Sheep
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Right, forget this thread. In fact, forget this whole forum.

I was a fool for thinking anyone here would be willing to answer a simple question. If you missed it, it's at the end of my opening post. It was intended to convey the topic of the thread.

Most people here are allergic to houserules or something. Instantly blame it on the houserule, rather than try to see past it, for reasons I have clearly explained three times by now.

Yes, you're all right. You were clearly all present at my table and know what happened in these games better than I do. You know my intentions, my own mind, the minds of my fellow players, and our metagame better than I do. The minuscule psychological effect that this houserule has on the Hacan impacts the game so greatly, that it alone has to be causing the game to go to round 8. Never mind anything else. Never mind that one of the three games did not even have the Xxcha. Just keep plugging your ears and thumbing each other's pointless comments.

I would like to thank Adam Rouse, Anthony/Yoren, JonPrud, Jason O'Donnel, and Chris J Davis for not being colossally arrogant and soul-erodingly obtuse and for attempting to help instead.

That is all.
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Derry Salewski
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So you're playing poorly, or the game sucks.

Take your pick.

Why wouldn't your Hacaan player be trying to get to turn 8? It seems like it'd be a sweet strategy in your group . . .
 
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Chris J Davis
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fluffdasheep wrote:


Most people here are allergic to houserules...



I have this engraved on my computer monitor.
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Loïc Boué
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From what I understand, even without Hacan (because that's not his mindset) and Xxcha (because of your houserule) stalling, no alliances manage to win before the end. I agree that the houserule doesn't change anything if Hacan does not actively pursue his condition.

Being an experienced Dune player, I would say that some other players in your group play like Hacan should play (or like the Guild used to play). That is they keep enough troops, cards and money (Influence/Spice) in reserve to prevent the others from winning. This is entirely different from the "packing against the leaders" mentality, which is normal and unavoidable. This is not using your strenght to try to win, but keeping it in order to be able to stop the others from winning later.

In Dune, the Guild would always try to keep a "fire brigade" up in space to jump on stronghold just in time to prevent victory (taking advantage of the "no more than 2 factions in a stronghold" rule, and of its special power to move when it wishes). Barring a successful traitor, this is something they can do once, but usually not twice. It takes time to rebuild troops (the Guild had to use a lot of them to overcome the other factions leaders and powers) and it also takes times to recover killed leaders. In fact it might be almost impossible to recover your best leader in time, as you must loose ALL your leaders in Dune to start bringing them back.

In Rex, if two players play that way, they can easily prevent anyone from winning, because Rex rules allow a rather rapid rebuilding of strenght compared to Dune. They "just" need to alternate in taking the lead role in overwhelming one stronghold with troops, with some assistance from other players.

When you have "strenght" (meaning a combination of troops, cards, influence, efficient alliance, well-placed traitors and positionnal advantage), you should use it to try to win and let the weaker factions get wasted trying to stop you. If when you are in a good situation, you keep your strenght and wait to stop others from winning, it will always end on turn 8. You can wait for a better opportunity, but if you actively use your strengh just to stop others, it just won't bring you victory.

In my Dune games, the two stronger factions (or two of the strongest factions) would usually get into an alliance and push hard for the win. One of them would be badly hit by the Guild, or sometimes the Bene Gesserit trying to fulfill their prediction, or another player taking the burden to prevent a victory. Then the faction that was in a good shape would switch alliance with the other dominant faction of the moment, and usually win.
This switch could happen one, two or even three times, with the strenght of the Guild decreasing (they get richer, but no troops and no valuable leaders left), one or two factions completely savaged by losses of troops, cards, leaders and spice, and then a winning alliance emerge.
The most devious (and obvious) trick is of course to arrange for your partner to be destroyed while you get stronger, and then ditch him and ally with the strongest other faction (that might have just destroyed your former partner thanks to your "failed" use of the Voice or Prescience).
Don't forget that a faction can actually get stronger from winning a combat (killing leaders and recovering spice from the board), especially the Harkonnen.

I would assume the same dynamic should happen in Rex. It seems easier to recover from losses in Rex and you can get more than two opponents in a stronghold. However the Hacan can't play whenever they wish like the Guild, the Xxcha can't suicide-bomb like the Bene Gesserit, or accompany to every stronghold on the planet, and the mobility is increased so you can attack several strongholds. I'm a little bit worried by the situational advantage given by moving last (Xxcha could compute that in its prediction) if you are rich enough to compensate for the increased cost to deploy.

But winning is not something that can be done in just one turn with all 6 players having somewhat equal strenght. You need to create an imbalance to your advantage by destroying other players troops, make them spend money, make them loose cards and leaders, while making sure you loose less that them, or even better gain from your battles (usually you can only gain influence from winning a battle, taking into account that being already on the planet is also an indirect influence gain). Since it's easy to rebuild leaders in Rex, but not without a cost, it's important to inflict losses of troops and deny access to influence to really weaken a faction.

My favorite tactic as the Emperor was to reward with spice whoever would kills Fremen (and deprive the Freemen of cards to make it easy and attractive), then offer the same reward against another weakened faction (hopefully deprived of cards as well). With two factions out of the equation, a mighty fleet of sardaukars in space, you just need to find the right ally to win.
(unless the Guild uses Karama on your mighty landing....)
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Alex Martinez
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bleached_lizard wrote:
fluffdasheep wrote:


Most people here are allergic to houserules...



I have this engraved on my computer monitor.


In my experience, it's the exact opposite here. People can't wait to "fix" a game. This thread seems to begin with the notion that I have changed a rule meant to discourage certain victory and now, I am unsure of why one faction (the one that wins via stalling) is winning. Please tell me how to fix it, but please don't imply that changing how the game is won might have something to do with it.

The "fix" you created takes away an element of uncertainty that is vital to the gameplay, IMO. The game is all about alliances and second guessing, and by "fixing" the Xxcha, you have given the Hacan all the more advantage.

Complex games are like complex recipes. You can't just remove an ingredient and expect everything to taste the same.

Now, I don't think it's a crime that you play the way you want. And I certainly respect your right to alter the game to your style. But it's silly to expect no one to comment on it when you deemed it important enough to mention in the first place.

Ultimately though, I think you've fallen into a typical BGG trap. You've assumed that something is flawed (the Xxcha special victory) because it feels "unfair". At the same time, by removing their strength and fixing the unfairness, you've overpowered another aspect. With no uncertainty to keep them from going for their most obvious goal, the Hacan can become very powerful.

As a fix, it seems as if all you've done is taken the possibility of an Xxcha victory in an extended game (via good guess) and made it an inevitability of the Hacan player. You haven't fixed anything. You've only made it more appealing.

Putting all of that aside, if the other players aren't allying and trying to stop this, then again, I'm not sure the game is at fault.
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Evan
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KingCroc wrote:
Putting all of that aside, if the other players aren't allying and trying to stop this, then again, I'm not sure the game is at fault.


This is crucial; in his outraged insistence that the houserule didn't affect his behavior and that the Hacan and Xxcha are the only ones who matter, the OP has ignored the behavior of the other four players. On the one hand, this weakens his case; since each of them could potentially ally their way into a Hacan special victory but not an Xxcha special victory, this is going to change the incentives in subtle ways, but on the other hand, if they've learned that their odds of joining a Hacan victory alliance are not high, then you're right to point out that, in forming their respective strategies, they're simply either not assigning sufficient weight to the likelihood that the Hacan will win, or not working hard enough to prevent this outcome.
 
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Chris J Davis
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kobold47 wrote:
...or not working hard enough to prevent this outcome.


I've heard things expressed this way a few times - that the other players should be in some way working harder to prevent an Hacan default victory - and I'm always confused by it. The only way to prevent the default victory is to win by standard victory, which is all the other players will be trying to do one way or another anyway. I don't see how having the Hacan in the game makes any difference to how hard the other players will try to win.
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Scott Lewis
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bleached_lizard wrote:
kobold47 wrote:
...or not working hard enough to prevent this outcome.


I've heard things expressed this way a few times - that the other players should be in some way working harder to prevent an Hacan default victory - and I'm always confused by it. The only way to prevent the default victory is to win by standard victory, which is all the other players will be trying to do one way or another anyway. I don't see how having the Hacan in the game makes any difference to how hard the other players will try to win.

I think, though, that Hacan's allies may be working to enable the default victory, and thus by doing so, have more force in prolonging the game.

Hacan alone will have a very hard time drawing out a default win. If playing RAW, the Xxcha would have an even HARDER time trying to prolong the game to the end if they make that prediction, because they can't directly control how Hacan holds out. They can still influence it in their own way, but it does become harder for them.

I really can't answer the OP's question definitively. All I know is I've only played one game that even went the full 8 turns, and Xxcha wasn't in the game. Sol ended up winning that game with their default victory condition, too, not Hacan. I think kobold47's point is somewhat valid, though - if it drags consistenly to turn 8, I think there's not enough unification among the other players to keep the game shorter. Sure, everyone is trying to win that way anyway, but I think somewhere there is a lack of urgency and ruthlessness among the players.

In many of the games I've been in, it comes down to an alliance really hurting another set of players, and having one of their own hurt in the process. Then the Ceasefire comes up, and the strong players dump the weak player for their own 2-player win, or ally with the strongest outsider for a 3-player win that becomes much easier. On the other hand, in games where players are unwilling to change alliances, it does make it harder to win early.

You gotta be ruthless in this game, willing to betray an ally if they aren't pulling their weight!
 
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Fluff Da Sheep
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I never said the game was at fault, and from the beginning I have been assuming our group is doing something ... wrong, somehow. Look at the title of this thread. I was asking what we could be doing wrong, how other groups get stronghold wins in this game.

I was asking for, basically, information that Loïc/Torc just kindly provided. Thank you, Loïc, that was extremely insightful!

Also, my "outraged insistence" stems from the fact that I was there, I was me, and some posters here are apparently unwilling to take my word for what happened during our game, or in my own head. Seriously, the arrogance there is staggering. If that doesn't make sense to you, I honestly don't know what to tell you.

EDIT: oh and this...

bleached_lizard wrote:
kobold47 wrote:
...or not working hard enough to prevent this outcome.


I've heard things expressed this way a few times - that the other players should be in some way working harder to prevent an Hacan default victory - and I'm always confused by it. The only way to prevent the default victory is to win by standard victory, which is all the other players will be trying to do one way or another anyway. I don't see how having the Hacan in the game makes any difference to how hard the other players will try to win.


... is like it was pulled right out of my own head. But Loïc's post has some good stuff in it to work around that.
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Matt Shinners
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fluffdasheep wrote:
Seriously, the arrogance there is staggering. If that doesn't make sense to you, I honestly don't know what to tell you.


I don't think we were being arrogant, as much as responding to the fact that we really don't believe that this houserule didn't have an effect on the game. I believe you 100% when you said that you weren't affected by it; I truly believe that you believe that. However, you're only 1 person at the table, and you can only say how it had a conscious effect on you.

So, in short, sorry for derailing your thread and coming across as arrogant, and I'm glad you got an answer you were looking for. However, I don't think it's unreasonable for people to insist that changing the rules of the game had an effect on how it played out.
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Fluff Da Sheep
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MattShinners wrote:
However, I don't think it's unreasonable for people to insist that changing the rules of the game had an effect on how it played out.

I guess that's where our views differ the most.

Saying that it may have had an effect is perfectly reasonable.
Insisting that it did have an effect is, to me, completely unreasonable.
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