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Subject: Replayability and strategic variety rss

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Olaf Polly
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I would like to ask all the playtesters about their view on the replayability of this game. After reading the reviews and rules it seems that each game uses all cards and land types and each player has the same deck to buy cards from. It appears that the main driver of the tactical decision-making is the availability of building cards and the player turn order. There does not seem to be any way to distinguish my decks from decks of fellow players (e.g., I cannot buy unique cards to add to my decks). All this leads to a fear that after several plays the game will become pretty straightforward since there are few "environmental" changes to force me to deviate from my favorite strategy or design a new one (I compare this to Thunderstone-type games where each game is unique due to unique combination of card types used).

Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.
 
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Drew Sonnenberg
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I think the replayability comes from two areas: the order in which the building/town cards come out and the play of your opponents.

I can see how, just from reading the rules, it would seem that each game would be very similar. Howver, the buildings that show up each round often force tough decisions. For example, if your strategy is to get an Academy in the first round each game and use that for a steady flow of Science, you are obviously going to have to adjust your strategy if no Academies show up.

Similarly, if your opponents take academies before you get to them, you're going to adjust your strategy. I realize these examples are very basic, but I think that, after playing the game, you begin to see how important each and every building is to your city and, therefore, how different each game can be based on what buildings show up/which ones your opponents take. It's a game where you can't do everything you want to do so you have to pick your battles based on what your opponents are doing.

I guess the simplest way I can put it is this. I have played the game 16 times so far, primarily with the same opponents. We all have general strategies that we lean towards but we still end every game with very different results. My opponents agree that each game presents a new challenge and feels different from previous plays. After 16 plays, I feel like I'm just scratching the surface of this game.

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Cory Suter
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I agree with dedlius's thoughts.

Also, take into account the military options as well - You can take towns for resources too, and the order of those cards change every game.

The game itself offers a lot more depth than it would seem. It even tricked me for awhile but I played more and more and realized the game could offer more and more. That said, I am sure someone still study it and perfect a strategy for most building reveals, but you can very easily buy your deck in different orders. And the player powers add cards that others do not have, so there is that.
 
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Chris
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I only have 6 plays but with the same guys and one of the main comments is that the game is different every time we play. There is a lot of variety in the game. Also very tactical as you need to be able to change stratategy on the fly.
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Scott Lewis
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I've got 9 plays in, and I also agree, no two games have had the same feel. The order the buildings come up is very important to deciding what to do in the game, as is (to a lesser degree) the order of the towns that can be conquered. Jostling for play position can be important, and in bigger games, jostling for 2nd place in various goods is important.

While the overarching strategies won't change much, how you accomplish them from round to round will vary greatly. I haven't felt this game to be "oh, this again" yet, not even close.
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Jack Francisco
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lordunborn wrote:
Also very tactical as you need to be able to change stratategy on the fly.


I love games that make you do this.
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Olaf Polly
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Guys, thanks a lot for the explanations - these help a lot. Was afraid that the game will become too predictable based on initial setup, so it is great that even after 10-15 plays it stays fresh.
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dedlius wrote:
I think the replayability comes from two areas: the order in which the building/town cards come out and the play of your opponents.

I can see how, just from reading the rules, it would seem that each game would be very similar. Howver, the buildings that show up each round often force tough decisions. For example, if your strategy is to get an Academy in the first round each game and use that for a steady flow of Science, you are obviously going to have to adjust your strategy if no Academies show up.

Similarly, if your opponents take academies before you get to them, you're going to adjust your strategy. I realize these examples are very basic, but I think that, after playing the game, you begin to see how important each and every building is to your city and, therefore, how different each game can be based on what buildings show up/which ones your opponents take. It's a game where you can't do everything you want to do so you have to pick your battles based on what your opponents are doing.

I guess the simplest way I can put it is this. I have played the game 16 times so far, primarily with the same opponents. We all have general strategies that we lean towards but we still end every game with very different results. My opponents agree that each game presents a new challenge and feels different from previous plays. After 16 plays, I feel like I'm just scratching the surface of this game.



This sounds similar to Ascension? Hope for the card type you want? Hope the other players don't take what you want?

Not that it's bad, but is it similar to that game?
 
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Scott Lewis
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Desferous wrote:
dedlius wrote:
I think the replayability comes from two areas: the order in which the building/town cards come out and the play of your opponents.

I can see how, just from reading the rules, it would seem that each game would be very similar. Howver, the buildings that show up each round often force tough decisions. For example, if your strategy is to get an Academy in the first round each game and use that for a steady flow of Science, you are obviously going to have to adjust your strategy if no Academies show up.

Similarly, if your opponents take academies before you get to them, you're going to adjust your strategy. I realize these examples are very basic, but I think that, after playing the game, you begin to see how important each and every building is to your city and, therefore, how different each game can be based on what buildings show up/which ones your opponents take. It's a game where you can't do everything you want to do so you have to pick your battles based on what your opponents are doing.

I guess the simplest way I can put it is this. I have played the game 16 times so far, primarily with the same opponents. We all have general strategies that we lean towards but we still end every game with very different results. My opponents agree that each game presents a new challenge and feels different from previous plays. After 16 plays, I feel like I'm just scratching the surface of this game.



This sounds similar to Ascension? Hope for the card type you want? Hope the other players don't take what you want?

Not that it's bad, but is it similar to that game?

It's more the latter than the former; if you spend too much time hoping for the card you want to show up, you'll be selling yourself short. There are tons of other things to do to build your infrastructure, so even if you don't want any of the cards, you can prepare for the next round.

Plus, each round there's usually a wide selection of cards, some juicier than others (although which ones will depend on which strategy you are using in the game).
 
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Justin
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I know I am a bit later in responding to this, but I wanted to throw my 2 cents in, because I bet lots of people have the same question. I played the game 15 times during test play, and I am looking forward to many more. I believe this game has high replayability due to several factors. First, the number of players you play the game with will give you a slightly different feel. Second, the way the cards come out will have an effect on the initial strategies players intend to use. If you want to secure knowledge, but no Academies come out, you may have to adapt. The way the cards come out will change every game and force some players to adjust their strategies during the game. I found this happened to me several times, and it made the game very enjoyable. At the end of the round 4 cards automatically will leave the game, so deciding on what to go after will also be important, and add to the variety of the game. The mechanic of bidding for turn order can also have an effect on your strategies, and you will have to decide if paying for first position to get a desired card is worth the price, as you will likely sacrifice an ability to buy something else needed. Third is the deck building aspect. Even though each player has pretty much identical decks (except for nations cards) to build from, the variety of strategies will have players purchasing different cards than each other throughout the game. Fourth is the variety of strategies a player can use to compete. After 15 games, I know there are still approaches I have not tried effectively. Last a big thing I liked about the replayability was the fact you can play this game very competitively (head to head style) by racing to resources or blocking an opponent with an action, or you can play to best yourself from prior games. I found even when losing in a big way, I still had lots of fun, without intense frustration.

I am the type of gamer who likes variety, and has lots of games on my shelf. I do not have one like this, so I can see it coming out more often than others. The rules are also easy to remember, so if you have not brought it out for a while, I think any refresher on the rules will be extremely quick, and for me this adds to its replayablility.
 
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