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Subject: 2-3 way alliances rss

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JF G
Canada
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Hi.

At Wbc, we play the with 3 way alliances games. With a lot of experience, I think that 3 ways makes the game longer, by blocking cities. Also, I think that the new rule that advantages the Fremen makes changes in the balance of the game. Since he's stronger in battle in the sand territories, it's more difficult for Atreides and Harkonnen to go for spice at the start of the game, they are not very agressive after and the the game goes longer. That's my opinion but it can change.

Questions
1. Do you think 3 ways make longer games?
2. Do you think the Fremen rule to double forces without paying makes the games last longer?
3. What are the statistics with and without the Fremen rule?

JF
 
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Brad Johnson
United States
Crystal Lake
Illinois
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Hi JF!

1) I'm not sure whether 3-way alliances extend the game or not. I'll be interested to see what others think. If you assume that a 3-way alliances needs 5 strongholds to win, then that is difficult to do. If the 3 opponents resist forming their own 3-way alliance, it might be relatively easy for them to cooperate to block at least 1 stronghold each turn to prevent the win indefinitely. (I have heard some people assert that a 3-way alliance that does not include the Guild and/or the BG cannot win.) On the other hand, there were complaints this year that some 3-way alliances (namely Atriedes-BG-Harkonnen) were "unstoppable", which makes me think at least some people think it's EASIER to win the game with 3-way alliances. I'm not sure.

2) I'm also not sure what affect the Fremen rule has on game length. I don't think we have enough data yet. I would say it's true that if more of the power is distributed more evenly among the factions (some power is taken away from Atreides or Harkonnen or someone else and given to the Fremen), then it does make sense that the game may last longer, just due to parity.

3) The Fremen rule was just instituted last year (2011). In 2011-2012, the average (non-final) game length was 4.3 hours. In 2001-2010, the overall average (non-final) game length was 4.0 hours. So it has gone up a little after the Fremen rule was added.

(In case you're curious, here are the average durations by year, noting the years when we added the various house rules - extra stronghold, spice transfer limitation, Fremen boost.)

2001 - 5.3 hours
2002 - 3.9 hours
2003 - 3.7 hours (Shield Wall rule started here)
2004 - 3.5 hours (Spice transfer limitation started here)
2005 - 2.7 hours
2006 - 3.7 hours
2007 - 4.1 hours
2008 - 4.4 hours
2009 - 3.8 hours
2010 - 4.6 hours
2011 - 4.1 hours (Fremen rule started here)
2012 - 4.4 hours
 
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Klaude Thomas
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patachou15 wrote:
At Wbc, we play the with 3 way alliances games. With a lot of experience, I think that 3 ways makes the game longer, by blocking cities. Also, I think that the new rule that advantages the Fremen makes changes in the balance of the game. Since he's stronger in battle in the sand territories, it's more difficult for Atreides and Harkonnen to go for spice at the start of the game, they are not very agressive after and the the game goes longer. That's my opinion but it can change.

Questions
1. Do you think 3 ways make longer games?
2. Do you think the Fremen rule to double forces without paying makes the games last longer?
3. What are the statistics with and without the Fremen rule?

With the caveat that I haven't played with the WBC group(s)

1. 3-ways does not make the game longer or shorter. However, the increased stronghold requirements for alliances make the game much longer, and incidentally make the easiest post-nexus win in Dune a 3-way Guild default (you want Guild-BG-Harkonnen/Atreides). Good luck to the other players beating that combination if they decide to drag the game to turn 15. WBC mitigate that by making the Shield Wall a stronghold at some point, but I believe that games lacking that rule might as well call quits as soon as that alliance forms (unless there is a grave disparity in skill levels).

2. No, but I agree with you about the impact on impact on Atreides and Harkonnen. It might be that Atreides is hurt more turn-by-turn than Harkonnen, but Harkonnen peaks and often aims to win early, so maybe his win %age will be the more affected. Caveat is that I've only played it in only two sessions. FWIW WBC should implement allies being able to ride worms, as well as not being eaten by them. In one game I found that it mattered: the one free move Fremen were potentially able to give an ally would have been significant enough to make them worth allying with. Also, I am recently becoming more fond of using basic combat instead of Advanced: in which case the WBC bonus is irrelevant. I do keep harping on about this, but alliance games are overwhelmingly won by alliances, and Fremen lack any specific advantage that amplifies the power of an alliance, on top of which they are unique in having an active alliance dissonance with another character (i.e. Guild). Contrast that with BG, Emperor, or Guild, whose powers amplify hugely in an alliance.
 
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Ty Hansen
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Dist of Columbia
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My experience stretches for about 3-4 years at WBC and a couple of PBforum games here on BGG and two other sites, perhaps a total of 30 games played.

1. I don't believe the 3-way alliance ability (assuming additional stronghold needed) elongates games as a game mechanic.
Yes, the 'anti' factions can block strongholds - but this can either be done quickly ("OK, Guild, you're not in the 3-way, go first and lock X sietch", same with coexisting BG token in most cases), or cannot be done at all ("OK, BG come out of coexistence in the two sietches his allies aren't holding").
Yes, this makes for more turns played, but IMO that won't make the game longer, when compared to only 2-way alliances trying to maximize a way to win when their turns are up (longer time plotting)...

What I've come to realize at WBC is that time away from the table is what elogates the games, simple as that. 3-ways contribute to this in allowing more brain power to crunch a way to both win/lose. But even when not in a 3-way, other factions have the opportunity to leave the table and discuss strategy, though this happens far less when not allied to a player.
At WBC, the time granted away from the table dilutes players making mistakes, especially IMO, in the way of taking chances. We talk too much about everything, which ends up migrating towards the middle/risk averse action.

2. No, I don't believe giving the Fremen spice and taking it from the Hark/Atr elogates the game, other than as Brad surmised, that perhaps parity increases game length. If this is indeed the case, then I prefer parity.

3. Only person experience, but before the Fremen rule, I rarely looked at the Fremen as a viable ally/enemy. Now they at least get a nod during the first nexus, as they likely have 10+ spice and a stack of 10 troops that can strike a stronghold. Without the 10 spice, they remain impotent until turn 4 or later, I would estimate.
 
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