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Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game – Fame and Fortune» Forums » Strategy

Subject: How to counter Arabia? rss

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Simon Lindén
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I played my first game with the expansion yesterday. I suggested that we limit Arabia a bit according to some suggestions already mentioned on BGG, but my friends wanted to try it out as the designer made it. So one of them got Arabia and immediately went for the most straight-forward (and probably best?) Arabian strategy. Pottery + endowment of the arts, and very quickly he was rushing up the culture track. I played Rome (100% culture focus) and did much better than I've ever done before, but Arabia was always several steps ahead of me.

We stumped his investment ability one or two times by sacking the coins before he could invest them but there really didn't seem like there was much we could do. I didn't count the rounds but he seemed to go as fast as a economic victory did at its fastest before. Only it was easier to halt the economy players who also didn't get as good benefits from their progress (keeping trade is inferior to culture cards).

Suffice to say, the only way to stop him was to go military, and this is what another player did on the other side of the map. So the game actually ended with a military victory (Spain invaded India's capital). With the culture cards I had I could probably have stopped that invasion but there was no point since that would only give the victory to Arabia instead (who had already completed the culture track).

If going military is the only way to stop Arabia I feel that it shapes the game in a direction that I don't like.

Arabia's continuous abilities didn't seem like the overpowered part though (2 culture per resource spent and one step after investing), but the fact that they started with four resources and could start investing straight away. For our next game I'll suggest they start with no resources or at most with two. Their ability seems good enough anyway. Or can anyone talk me out of it by showing me that Arabia is not as overpowered as they seem at first hand?
 
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Todd Sweet
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As with anything, I would play a couple more times before deciding that you need to change it. Your sample size is 1 game!
 
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Simon Lindén
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Yes, but if you've played more than once I wouldn't mind hearing what you think of it?

EDIT: My point is that I don't have an abundance of gaming opportunities. Maybe I get to play this game once every second week at most. With our games being so sparse I'd rather not use them for play-testing.
 
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Andreas Hohmann
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I agree that Arabia in the original version is very hard to stop and I tend to call it "overpowered".
I use the EftA 2/4/5 and the Arabian culture power with only 1 culture per ressource.
This keeps Arabia on loevel with the other civs.

I would also say that CIV is a military game. A player who strictly avoids military in the expansion will loose.

If you decide to play with the original Arabs you cant win a culture race against them but need to harass them via military (like you also stop any other winning-condition)
 
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El-ad David Amir
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You're welcome to follow PBF #38a- it's a 2p game between two expert players, one playing Arabia and the other Spain. None of them are having it easy there...
 
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Simon Lindén
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Thanks, I've been following both PBF#38a and PBF#40a, in both those games Arabia wins quite comfortably. There was even an interesting discussion in PBF #40a about how broken Arabia is. It applies mostly to 2p games but I think they made the point I was trying to make more clearly: even if Arabia can be defeated in a 3-5p game it will require the other players to change their strategies all because of one civ. Maybe this will result in Arabia having less chance of winning in many gaming groups, because the other players will unite against them from the start. But having this tension from the start just makes the game less enjoyable in my opinion.

I'm wondering if removing all four resources from the start will be too hard on them?
 
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El-ad David Amir
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Alandor wrote:
Thanks, I've been following both PBF#38a and PBF#40a, in both those games Arabia wins quite comfortably.

When I replied I thought Spain has a good shot at 38a, but that was not the case ... we're having a rematch in 40b, where I'm America and dlhammond is Arabia, I think I have a sad meager chance of winning that. I will wait till that game is over and then come back to comment
 
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Iron James Rackham
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I noticed that neither of the PBF games mentioned use the GP deck. Since the GP deck is a very strong boost to the culture path, if the Arabs turn out to be OP without it, what does that say about the balance when using it?
 
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El-ad David Amir
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ironJames wrote:
I noticed that neither of the PBF games mentioned use the GP deck. Since the GP deck is a very strong boost to the culture path, if the Arabs turn out to be OP without it, what does that say about the balance when using it?

Since I'm a huge anti-fan of the GP deck ... I'm all in favor of disposing of it entirely
 
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Ian Kelly
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I love the GP deck too much to get rid of it. Sure it's swingy, but I think it adds a lot of fun. I'd much rather just nerf Arabia.
 
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El-ad David Amir
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Peristarkawan wrote:
I love the GP deck too much to get rid of it. Sure it's swingy, but I think it adds a lot of fun. I'd much rather just nerf Arabia.

Oh yes, Arabia needs to be nerfed either way ... rdonoso's rhetoric was convincing, but after you smashed him I changed my mind back to nerfing it Actions speak louder than words.
 
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Justin B
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Unfortunately, removing the GP deck also significantly hinders America. Had we been using it in 40b, America would have drawn St. Francis of Assisi. America could have advanced up to 5 times on the culture track, getting another great person and choosing 2 of 4 culture cards. This might have really set Arabia back.

The problem, though, is that against any other opponent it would probably be an auto win. (But that's a discussion for the GP deck, not Arabia).

I think the 4 free resources is too much. Let's look at starting freebies in equivalent city actions.

Arabia: 4 city actions
Germany: 2 city actions
Russia: 1 city action
Spain: 1 city action
China: 1 city action
Egypt: 1 city action

Everyone else has an intangible benefit that will vary in effect. We could assign values based on theory.

Rome: ~2 city actions
America: 1 city actions (A GP is about equivalent to a building)
America: 2 city actions (A GP that provides a good benefit)
America: 4 city actions (Jacques Cousteau)
Egypt can vary wildly. Hanging Gardens is worth a lot of city actions over the course of the game. Stonehenge is barely worth 1 or 2 through the whole game.
Greece: 1 city action. The extra trade from Democracy is the same trade benefit as a barracks.
India: 0 city actions. Their metropolis is as good as many other civilizations' normal capitals.

So there we see the problem. Arabia can very easily get going and use those powerful resource technologies. Basically, take Adam Smith's flavor text, and change money to "city actions." Getting free city actions during the course of the game is a bonus (say, Germany or China). But getting them at the start of the game is much more important, because you can build on that, and it snowballs easily.

To make matters even worse, they get free devotion actions by using their resources. Using all 4 starting resources, they get +8 culture, which is approximately equivalent to a late game devotion. Adding in 5 huts or villages that they can likely use, and that's a total of +18 culture. Another free city action early in the game. On top this is any resources that they gather. Compare this to India. India can devote a city to the arts, and gain +1 culture for a resource icon. Or India can gather the resource. Arabia gathers the resource and then gains 2 culture once it is used. I understand that the Indian city will produce more culture in addition, but this forgoes the opportunity to use resources.

How to fix Arabia? Well, let's compare Arabia to China. China will get about 5 or 6 free advances on the culture track. (Or perhaps 3 coins on Printing Press). Arabia will get many, many more. A simple investment in Pottery gets Arabia 3 advances, and they still get to keep their huts. Using Pottery again is 3 more advances. This is all with Arabia's starting resources, not huts found like China must do. Arabia could choose to not explore and accomplish this goal.

Here is my suggestion. Remove all of Arabia's abilities. Then give them the following abilities.
After setup, gain one of each resource that is in your capital's outskirts from the market.
Each time you gain a coin token, gain two culture.

This would give them 1 to 2 free city actions to start with, and it would base their resources on the terrain. The territories nearer the arrow are already favorable anyway, so they probably remain favorable. Then throughout the game, they can move up the culture track by gaining coins. Usually, these two paths are mutually exclusive. Or, it can be used to gain more coins with printing press. The synergy is still there, but it is less obvious and more strategic.

It might be too much of a nerf, but I think it would make them a viable economic threat, and still be able to go for culture.
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