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Subject: is there a starting invention rule? rss

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Randall Bart
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This gamed seemed very good, except that it had a fatal flaw: My first three invention cards were all very expensive, and they had powers which gave to my opponents and/or hurt me. The fourth card I got had the power draw one card per invention then discard one card per invention, which looked good for a third invention but pretty wimpy as first invention. It was the seventh invention card I drew which was my first starting invention card. I lost two minions and two cards from my hand from other players inventions, before I could help myself or hurt them.

Otherwise it's a great game, but if there isn't some rule we missed to make sure each player gets an early invention it's hideously broken.
 
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Donald X.
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Barticus88 wrote:
Otherwise it's a great game, but if there isn't some rule we missed to make sure each player gets an early invention it's hideously broken.

There is no such rule, nor is one needed. Ignoring Twists (which bend the game in different directions), there is nothing intrinsically bad about not playing inventions for a while. It takes just as many turns to win with a few expensive inventions as with a lot of cheap ones.
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Randall Bart
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donaldx wrote:
It takes just as many turns to win with a few expensive inventions as with a lot of cheap ones.


I have been thinking for a few days how to respond to this.

[sarcasm]Really? No matter what cards we draw and what actions we choose, it's always 14 turns?[/sarcasm]

I did not do a thorough analysis of your deck of inventions, but from what I saw, I am sure it is reasonably balanced. There is a formula where I can put in the number of points and the card power and get out the card cost, give or take $1. This formula was determined by observing dozens or maybe hundreds of playtests, including multiple plays with each twist. There's some gut feeling that goes into that formula, but it is rooted in science.

It's a light game which makes light use of some mechanics. I love simultaneous selection. Nefarious has simultaneous selection, but it's not for bluff and out-think, it's just to accelerate the game (which it does). Nefarious is an engine building game. It's not a big engine. The inventions effects are one time, so that is not an engine, but the minions and the per invention powers make an engine.

The invention effects which give or take minions and (to lesser effect) the effects that give and take cash, are helping or hurting the engine. Such engine effects have greater effect if they occur early in the game than if they occur late. That is inherent in any engine, unless there is a specific mechanic to oppose it.

You tell me that others causing damage to my engine while I cannot hurt theirs will not cost me the game. Really? Assuming you have successfully built the Little Engine that Can't, I must ask why? What is this engine for, what are these effects for, if it all comes to naught?

I am led to reconsider these comments in Item for Geeklist "New to you March 2012 => Best new boardgame" :
Quote:
Nefarious: seems to distill the whole role selection/card tableau thing down to the point at which there's nothing left worth caring about. The 'twists' don't seem to provide enough of DXV's trademark variabilitiy either.
agius1520 wrote:
I agree about Nefarious though, that was one of the worst games i've played simply because there is no game there.


Is there really no game there? At first glance I thought there was, but you must know better than I.
 
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Donald X.
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Barticus88 wrote:
Is there really no game there? At first glance I thought there was, but you must know better than I.

Dude, what? Are you talking to me when you say "you must know better than I" there? I have not said there was "no game there," and I am sure never saying such a thing. I am pretty pleased with a game before I go to the trouble of trying to get it published, and the secret history I will eventually post will show that Scott didn't make any changes I didn't like either. I am not here to go on and on about exactly how much I adore my own games, or to post quotes from other fans, but I mean, I am correcting you any time you put garbage in my mouth.

If you play a bunch of inventions, you are drawing a bunch of cards and inventing a bunch. Those things take time. If you play just a few inventions, you are spending time on work and investments instead. The fact that those things are balanced to work out to the same number of turns - ignoring twists - doesn't somehow mean there's "no game there," it means those things are balanced. As usual the point to balance is to give you a chance to win via playing well; you can still get a good or bad draw, but you don't just lose due to say drawing a hand of expensive cards at the start (again ignoring twists - a few twists do push luck-of-the-draw).

Meanwhile when an opponent makes you discard a card, for example, that's an ability that didn't come free to them; they paid for it. They always pay the same cost for it, the cost that makes it fair on average, but the effect varies in actual value, depending on everything else going on in the game. Sometimes it's a key play, and sometimes they would have been better off not playing it; also sometimes it's just the basic deal, and they break even. Again this balance provides the potential for good play; you don't just win because you got to make them discard while they couldn't afford to play anything.

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Randall Bart
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My uncle owned an aircraft engineering firm. They manufactured aftermarket products for commercial jets (727, DC-9, etc). One of their products was an auxiliary fuel tank. It was designed to be easily removable. You slid the tank into position, locked it in place with a bar, and secured the bar with two bolts. People would look at it and express concern that "those two little bolts" were holding tons of fuel. All the engineers were sure that the bolts were rated for the stress they would experience, and the locking mechanism had been designed to minimize that stress, but that was not enough. In order to stop people's first impression being colored by "those two little bolts" my uncle made the bolts bigger.

I don't recall what brought that story to mind a few days ago, but a few hours later I was listening to Dirk Henn on some podcast, and he said some rules are there not to make the game fairer but to make people think the game is fairer. You ought to read the first impressions geeklist every month. You should know what people's first impressions are, of your games and of others.

The first impressions of Nefarious fall into two classes: There's no game there or there is a starting disadvantage problem. I understand card balance. I can use a type 4 action to get $4. I can do a type 3 action to get $2 plus a card, so the card is worth $2. When I invent, I forgo taking $4 and I consume a $2 card, so the per invention overhead is $6 in addition to the printed cost. If someone's invention cost me a card, the inventor paid (approximately) $2 for that. If I lost a minion, he paid $4. I understand how you built the deck, and I have no gripes about that.

But effects are different at different times of the game. Deep Sea Monster costs $16, gives 6 points and has no effect. A card i had from the beginning (I don't know the name) costs $19, gives 7 points and gives $3 to everybody. Compared to Deep Sea Monster, this costs $6 more and gives me one extra point (which is expensive for a point) unless I play it on the last turn when it costs me only $3 for that point (which is a good deal).

So it's a game where you can get little advantages from asymmetries and edge effects. If I am out of cash when someone else invents a -$2 effect, I gain a little advantage. Not that I can plan for that, if I am saving to buy a big invention. Likewise, I am sure to have minions in play, so I won't gain by an edge effect there.

I have a minion engine. Maybe it's not big, but it's my minion engine. I am having others beat down my engine while I can't do anything to theirs. Also they cost me $ which slows me down. Loss of cards was also frustrating, but in retrospect, I had cards I didn't like, so I was losing only the nominal $2 card value, while others might have lost cards they wanted to play.

I was getting beat up. Are you telling me that they paid so much to beat me up that they were hurting themselves as much or more? Yes, I question why you bothered to publish this game if now you are going to tell me these actions are meaningless.

The game isn't meaningless, but a game needs to give the player meaningful choices. More important a game needs to give the player the impression of meaningful choices. Depending on the twists and other game circumstances, some cards are better than others. It's a card game and in any game the cards run good or bad. In Poker (and moreso in Panguingue) most of the skill is in throwing away bad hands and watching the fools play. In a Euro game I need an escape from bad cards.

With modestly competent opponents this game, this game escapes my 15 minute rule: Once you've lost, the game should end within 15 minutes. I played with some glacially slow newbies, which certainly didn't help the experience. I'll play it again, but I'll warn people that the game needs a mulligan rule.

BTW, the box wrap where nothing bleeds but white made me think of a prototype in a white box with stickers. All the components except the cardboard bag chips also looked like very high class prototype. Prototyping is definitely the mad scientist part of gaming. Was that a deliberate part of the look?
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Donald X.
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Barticus88 wrote:
I was getting beat up. Are you telling me that they paid so much to beat me up that they were hurting themselves as much or more? Yes, I question why you bothered to publish this game if now you are going to tell me these actions are meaningless.

I am not going to tell you those actions are meaningless. I am also not here to give you strategy advice. You asked if there was a rule you missed about starting hands; that's a rules question. I can answer that for you: no, there is not. And that's no mistake.

I played the game with Wizards of the Coast R&D people over a weekend back in 1999. We played at least 20 games of it over the weekend, and I won all but one game. This was satisfying but not surprising; I had experience with the game and they didn't. I had a better idea of how things would play out depending on what the twists were, and made better decisions. Somehow this was possible! And that hasn't changed since. There is a little less discarding now, so it's a little less skill-based; that in fact was a change due to impressions rather than for balance.

Barticus88 wrote:
The first impressions of Nefarious fall into two classes:

This has not been my experience at all, and I bet I have a lot more data there than you do.

Barticus88 wrote:
You should know what people's first impressions are, of your games and of others.

Another thing I should do is, I should try to get good games published, even though there will always be people who don't like them for whatever reason, or who have house rules I would never have, and think the only reason I haven't made such sensible changes myself is because I must ignore everyone's opinion but my own.

Fortunately I do this already.
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Steve Duff
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Barticus88 wrote:
The first impressions of Nefarious fall into two classes: There's no game there or there is a starting disadvantage problem.


Come on now. There's much more than that.

My first impression was that the game was really fun. From what I saw at bgg.con, first impressions were overwhelmingly positive.
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Randall Bart
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donaldx wrote:
Another thing I should do is, I should try to get good games published, even though there will always be people who don't like them for whatever reason, or who have house rules I would never have, and think the only reason I haven't made such sensible changes myself is because I must ignore everyone's opinion but my own.

Fortunately I do this already.


laugh Vague pronoun
 
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Chad Ellis
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Speaking for myself, my first impressions was positive. There's clearly a game here and I thought every single turn offered at least a moderately interesting decision. I also think that I won our game because I chose the correct strategy given the Twists in play and the person who came in second did so mainly because while he missed the best reaction to the Twists his other decisions were better than anyone else's.

I'm surprised to hear that anyone went 19-1 (even the designer) because I would have guessed that the combination of learning curve and skill vs. luck balance wasn't quite that big, but I'm not stunned. This isn't a game of one or two big decisions but lots of little ones that certainly matter.

If you didn't have a decent invention until your seventh draw that seems either like an extreme case of bad luck or that you should have been content with inventions that weren't good from an engine perspective and sought your play advantage elsewhere.
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