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Vampire: The Eternal Struggle» Forums » General

Subject: Why does this scale so poorly rss

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gamer 2012
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I have a group of 3 MTG players and this looks right down our alley. But we almost never have 4+ nowadays. I am wondering why 5 is so overwhelmingly considered the sweeetspot.
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Seamus O'Toole
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At the moment our group is normally 3 people and we are still finding it very fun if slightly different than normal.

The main difference is that with 5 players you each have 2 players you are not normally currently attacking. This leads to a game of shifting alliances.
With 4 players it is likely to play like a 2v2 game at the start.
3 player games are more brutal, with everyone at each others throat from the beginning.

The other main difference is that it is easier for one deck to dominate the game in 3 player games.
In every card game there is an element of rock/paper/scissors. Each deck will be strong against certain archetypes and weak against others.
With 5 decks on the table, the chances are good that each deck will have some deck in play that they are weak against and others that they are strong against. When there are only 3 players it is not uncommon for 1 deck to have a clear advantage over the others from the beginning (of course, this just means that the others have to gang up on it at the start to try to neutralise it).

Also, some archetypes are stronger in 3 player than they are in 5 player games. Notably minion removal (combat, banishment, etc) and minion theft (temptation, grave robbing, etc).

With all that said, it is still a very enjoyable game with just 3 players.
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Thanks.
 
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Chris Berger
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Round Lake
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tuathail wrote:
The other main difference is that it is easier for one deck to dominate the game in 3 player games.


In particular, I find intercept decks to dominate 3 player games. That is, decks that focus on blocking actions and beating you up in combat. Rush decks - decks that focus on attacking minions and beating you up in combat - are also pretty good in 3p, but not as boring. An intercept deck can really grind a 3p game to a halt, because no one wants to take any actions. It's not a problem in a 5p game, because a focused intercept deck can generally get a max of 2 VPs, and that's often not enough to win the table.

That just means, on the rare occasions when I play 3p V:TES, I just don't bring out an intercept deck. I do have like 30 different decks built, though...
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L. Scott Johnson
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Five is considered the sweetspot primarily for table dynamics. But 4 and even 3 are close behind: the gap is not that wide, especially in casual (non-tournament) play.

I suspect many players prefer five simply because the tournament rules favor five, and many players prefer to play as close to tournament style as possible (either as practice for tournament play or because it seems more official).

Tournament play has other reasons to designate a preferred (uniform) table size (whatever it may be): notably VP availability equalization.

Back to the first point: five player table dynamics.

In any game of VTES, your position is better as the strength of your neighbors (predator and prey) is weaker. In 4p, this produces a ripple of "runaway leader" effect, at least until the first oust: where "leader" is a pair of cross-table players. When one player gets a bit of an advantage, his prey and predator get a bit weaker, making the fourth player (across the table) a bit stronger in return. And that situation can, possibly, feed on itself.

In 5p (and 3p and any odd-p), you don't have that problem (until someone is eliminated).

That's the biggest thing, and it's not such a big thing, IMO.

Now, for 3p, some players will also cite the change in relative power of certain deck types (like combat) as a drawback. But it can also be seen as simply a change in relative power of certain deck types. Much like how 3p Ra produces a change in relative strengths of certain strategies from 5p Ra. And cf. poker, Settlers, Great Wall of China, Rattus, etc.

So I'd say VTES "plays best" with 5, but in a manner similar to how 100 is greater than 99. 4p and 3p are still quite good.

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Teeka
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If you're starting to get used to this game with MTG players (which I get from your first post), I'd say 3 is actually better than 5.

My experience (so YMMV of course) is that MTG players can have a bit of difficulty with the downtime you get in a 5 player game when you're cross-table from the current acting player (see LSJ's post).
They're used to a 1-on-1 game, so it's new to them spending time (usually) not directly involved in someone else's turn. Even in multiplayer MTG, you can throw effects all over the place in any turn. In VTES, there's way more restrictions.

When you play 3-player, you never get any downtime. Everything that happens pretty much affects you directly or indirectly, and can often be acted upon by you.
Also, as already mentioned, combat has always been considered the weaker of the 3 main aspects of the game (the others being bleeding and politics). In 3-player, combat is just as strong if not stronger. Makes for a more versatile game (IME), with cards seeing play that otherwise wouldn't.

In fact, I actually really like the tension of a 3 player game better. As explained, the table dynamics shift clockwise round the table, making anything you do to oust your prey have a direct downside.
If player A goes after B hard, B won't be able to go after C as much..which in turn makes C stronger against A! This is the mentioned ' ripple' effect strongly in play: if you rush into it blindly, it'll bite you in the ass.

Now, of course people would argue that you can't experience the entire feel of the game with less than 5. But I can only say that 4 is not that great (see LSJ's post), while 3 and 5 are both fine. 3 is fast and tense, 5 is tactical and intricate. Take your pick!
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