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Subject: A different way to look at scoring with animals... rss

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Pater Absurdus
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Here is the way the bonus points are currently expressed on the box:


Here is the same information but with a column added for when you get a 0 VP bonus;
 



This is how much of a bonus you essentially get (as you will notice there is no negative score so every column is worth 3 more points):
 

I was trying to explain this to my wife but she didn't get it for some reason. Basically if this was the way the bonus sheet looked it would not change the value of any strategy at all. Getting the fourth of any animal is worth a 3 point bonus regardless of whether it is expressed as a negative score I avoided or a positive score I gained.

I think that looking at this in this way can help clear up where the points come from.


This is how much a total number of any given animal is worth at game end adding the bonus and the VP you get per animal (the negative for having 0-3 is changed to a positive score for getting 4 here as well):
 


I found creating this list to be quite eye opening.


Some observations based on the above chart with some free random thoughts thrown in:
1. All animals are equal if you only have 1-4 of them.
2. The hierarchy (Horse > Cow > Pig > Sheep) is not consistent until you get to 10 animals. For example having 9 pigs and having 9 cows are equal at end game.
3. It is way easier getting 17+ points with sheep than with Cattle. This will be a bit different per game. It is difficult to get a ton of points from any animal if your opponent if they are trying for it as well.
4. Getting one's second horse before the end of round 2 is a solid investment. Even if you never get another horse (a very unlikely scenario) you will get to take advantage of 6 breeding phases and get 13 VP's for your trouble (as long as you make room for them in your farm).
5. The strategy for sheep/pig is different than cow/horse. The way to deal with sheep/pig is to collect as many as possible as they appear on the board. Breeding with them is very helpful but they show up on the board frequently enough that breeding is less important. One's cow/horse strategy should probably involve starting breeding early and then collecting when possible (not as important as breeding early since they show up on the board less).
6. While animal points are key remember that denying expansions to your opponent, filling up expansions, and high VP buildings can help a ton (particularly if your opponent is blocking you with animals.
7. Most importantly, and perhaps this should be obvious, it is better to cost your opponent 2 VP's than gain 1 VP for yourself. Their loss is your gain.

These observations may be proven false over time but they have assisted my strategy so far.

Happy Gaming,
Redward


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Brent M
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Thank you for the insight. I've played two games with my wife and lost both; perhaps the next game will end with my victory. (Or not.)
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Brian Foster
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Quite interesting. You can be sure I won't show this to my wife. She already beats me nearly every game!
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Pater Absurdus
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bboppr wrote:
Quite interesting. You can be sure I won't show this to my wife. She already beats me nearly every game!


I tried to explain to my wife the idea that her losing 3 VP's for not getting her fourth cow was the same as my getting 3 extra VP's for getting my fourth cow and she just didn't get it. She thought that would change her strategy and I couldn't convince her otherwise.

She is very intelligent but also very stubborn. I think that she lost the game one too many times and just wanted to disagree with me... whistle

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Pater Absurdus
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I actually wish that the scoring was expressed only as positives. It seems unnecessarily confusing to have negatives when it is not necessary. But that is just how I prefer it. I like that level of simplicity.
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Manuel Pasi
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bboppr wrote:
Quite interesting. You can be sure I won't show this to my wife. She already beats me nearly every game!


my thoughts exactlyshake
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Kuba P.
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I see an interesting pattern here - my wife beats me at this game too! ; ) Makes you wonder why :]
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G K
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Redward wrote:
Basically if this was the way the bonus sheet looked it would not change the value of any strategy at all. Getting the fourth of any animal is worth a 3 point bonus regardless of whether it is expressed as a negative score I avoided or a positive score I gained.


Redward wrote:
This is how much a total number of any given animal is worth at game end adding the bonus and the VP you get per animal (the negative for having 0-3 is changed to a positive score for getting 4 here as well):
 


I do think it would have been easier to simply have the animal scoring determined by looking at a single grid, instead of counting animals and then adding/subtracting a bonus. One step instead of two.

But bumping all the points for animals up by 3 points to avoid having negatives would seem to devalue points gained outside of animals (expansion board points, points from buildings, the storage building, etc). It is very interesting to see the break points plainly as you've discussed however.

I wish the box side was printed with something like this instead:

# of 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Sheep -3 -2 -1 0 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 13 14 16 18 20


and so on.
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Pater Absurdus
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speltor wrote:
But bumping all the points for animals up by 3 points to avoid having negatives would seem to devalue points gained outside of animals (expansion board points, points from buildings, the storage building, etc).


Well, it wouldn't actually change how many points any given number of an animal is worth. Having 4 Pigs is worth 7 VP's whether it is expressed as avoiding negative points or gaining actual points.

I'd of preferred if it was expressed as a positive because it makes scoring clearer and understanding how much each item is worth less elusive.

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Redward wrote:
Well, it wouldn't actually change how many points any given number of an animal is worth. Having 4 Pigs is worth 7 VP's whether it is expressed as avoiding negative points or gaining actual points.


I understand that getting that 4th animal is worth 7 VPs since you start "in the hole", and the number of points you are getting relative to the scale is not changing. I just meant that non-animal points would have also had to increase to keep their relative value if the animal scoring started at zero instead of at -3.

Also, I agree that using negative numbers probably wasn't necessary in this game. Guessing it was just following the original game's precedent of having negative scoring for not having any items in a category. Having a negative score for zero seems to make sense thematically to me, but why score a negative for having 2 animals?

Anyways, your post was interesting and I thank you for it. Am considering making a new scoring grid to put in my box.
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I myself prefer having the negative score intact. Sure it makes it harder to count, but by having the -3 penalty instead of having a sudden bump in points from 3 to 4+ animals it just seems more "natural flowing". (a penalty for 3 or less animals, then subsequently BVP goes up 1 by 1 from 0,1,2,....)

IMO it also gives the impression of the urgency of getting at least 4 of each animals by end game, as I find telling people you'll get a penalty for having too less animals is easier to explain than telling them the sudden point leap if you achieve 4+ animals as oppose to 0~3.

Redward wrote:


 



I also find this chart giving the false impression diminishing returns, as going from 3~4 animals give 4 pts, then for each additional animal count giving only 2 and sometimes 1 pt.

Not trying to criticize your graph (also your analysis is quite good ), as you can easily determine your total animal points easily from that graph. However when it comes to scoring I prefer the slightly more complex (yet easy to explain the penalty) version that came with the game as (for me) it adds a slight tension when I count up my animals 1 step at a time
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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I'm confused... is subtracting so difficult?
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Pater Absurdus
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Ponton wrote:
I'm confused... is subtracting so difficult?


Obviously not. Knowing how to prioritize one's strategy during the middle of a tense game is made easier when everything is really clear and straightforward. Having penalties and bonuses is more complicated than just having bonuses.
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Pater Absurdus
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genesyx wrote:
However when it comes to scoring I prefer the slightly more complex (yet easy to explain the penalty) version that came with the game as (for me) it adds a slight tension when I count up my animals 1 step at a time


It definitely impacts one's perception of the scoring and creates tension. One could also argue the thematic value of it. That is my wife's thinking on the matter. She likes the threat of lost points. To me it feels like an illusion that can obscure the VP value of any given game choice. Regardless, I appreciate your thoughts on it see where you are coming from. IMHO your in good company since You agree with my wife.

Happy gaming,
Redward
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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I say its only a matter of taste. I find bonuses and penalties more natural.
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As I mentioned above.. having penalties works for me when they make thematic sense. In Agricola you are trying to get at least one of everything at the end of the game, and also trying to get enough food for your family during the game. Sounds reasonable there should be some tension in achieving these goals.

In Agricola:ACBaS you get negative victory points even if you have a breeding pair of animals. You don't really score positive points until you hit 4 animals. This doesn't make as much thematic sense to me, and I would have preferred if they would have scaled up all the scoring to be more in line with the original's feel. Also, now scoring animals is a two-step process and more complex than the original (albeit still simple), which seems unnecessary for such an otherwise streamlined design.

A pretty minor gripe however about a decent and quick 2 player game.
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Well, breeding animals is all you do in this game. In that light, I think it makes sense to be penalized for have only a couple of a type of animal. I mean, getting a breeding pair of animals is not really an accomplishment.
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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Stormparkiet wrote:
Well, breeding animals is all you do in this game. In that light, I think it makes sense to be penalized for have only a couple of a type of animal. I mean, getting a breeeding pair of animals is not really an accomplishment.



... especially when getting animals in this game is beyond easy!
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Ponton wrote:
Stormparkiet wrote:
Well, breeding animals is all you do in this game. In that light, I think it makes sense to be penalized for have only a couple of a type of animal. I mean, getting a breeeding pair of animals is not really an accomplishment.



... especially when getting animals in this game is beyond easy!


Yes and no. Except for the 1st 2 animals (for breeding), it's always better to delay grabbing animals as long as possible and let the space accumulate 1st. IMO this requires a fine balance of letting the animals accumulate 1st and knowing when is enough and grab it before your opponent does.

There are times that I was caught off guard and had to barely squeeze in 4 cows, and in 1 particular game suffered 6 pt penalty for having 2 cows and had the last open stable snatched away.( I wasn't even trying to accumulate pigs) shake

luckily my sheep farm (16 sheep and 10 horses) paid off quite well and won by 1 point. devil
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Brian Foster
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jeekubPL wrote:
I see an interesting pattern here - my wife beats me at this game too! ; ) Makes you wonder why :]


Easy answer for me: My wife is naturally good in games. It's true. Over many years, she has consistently won about 60-70% or so of the games she has played. This is true for 2-P or multiplayer games.

She often says she is just lucky. I always counter with one of my favorite statements about gaming: Frequent good luck is called skill. She will smile knowingly and realize it's true.

I very much enjoy playing her, even though I know she will win more games than I do. I cherish the times I do win!
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speltor wrote:
I understand that getting that 4th animal is worth 7 VPs since you start "in the hole", and the number of points you are getting relative to the scale is not changing. I just meant that non-animal points would have also had to increase to keep their relative value if the animal scoring started at zero instead of at -3.

That's not right. The two scoring systems are exactly the same. You just add 12 points to everyone's score at the end of the game to move from one to another.
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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He is actually right with saying the relative values change.

Imagine, I scored 38 points via animals (the old fashioned way) and 18 points otherwise, I've score 38/18=2.11 times more with animals than with other stuff.

With your method, I'd have 50 points in animals (38+12=50) and still 18 points otherwise, thus, scoring 50/18=2.78 times more with animals than with other stuff.

In the end, it doesn't change anything - that's what you are right about. Still, the relative values did change (but they do not matter at all).
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Martin G
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Quote:
In the end, it doesn't change anything - that's what you are right about. Still, the relative values did change (but they do not matter at all).

Agreed

EDIT: hmm, I guess since this causes confusion, I don't quite agree In both situations you scored 50 points from animals. It's just that in the scoring in the rules, you started at -12, while in the all-positive scoring you started from zero.
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Yes, Grzegorz has described what I was trying to express better than my own post.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I think it actually does (or could) matter a little bit. Changing the scoring scale is still fair for both players. However, if taking the Storage Building and completing expansion boards aren't as strong relative to animal strategies, the number of viable options are sometimes reduced. Without playtesting it's hard to say how big a difference it would be. In my opinion this game needs the variety of available options to be worthwhile in order to keep things interesting, otherwise why bother including them?

Edit: This doesn't make any difference in strategy, thanks guys!
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Martin G
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No, sorry, but you're not right. It literally makes zero difference, except for the meaningless numerical ratio of scores that Grzegorz mentions.

Changing the animal scoring from negative/positive to all positive just changes the baseline of your total score, it doesn't change how many points you get from animals versus other strategies.

In the scoring in the rules, collecting 4 sheep gets me 7 points - I go from -3 to +4. In the all-positive scoring, collecting 4 sheep gets me 7 points - I go from zero to +7. There's absolutely no difference.
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