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Subject: Musings on the cooperative part of the game rss

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Steen Bang-Madsen
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I've just played the game for the third time, and it got me pondering...

In this game we were three players. Me and one other had tried the game before, and the third was playing for the first time. During the rules explanation, I tried to stress the need for focusing on the rising discontent of the natives. There is no doubt, that in order to keep the natives under control, everyone needs to chip in. But what if a single player doesn't, or at least is very reluctant to do so. This may be either because he is oblivious of the risk of running straight into a rebellion, or he might be too focused on getting ahead of the others, that he is hoping that someone else will "waste" their resources on controlling the natives, and let him foucs on expanding.

What is there to stop him? (Apart from trying to reason with the person.) If you let him do it, and just try to keep the natives under control, he will most likely win the game. If you try to keep up with him, the game will run rampant into a collective loss.

This may be more of a cooperative game than I initially thought. But it also has me thinking, that the cooperative part may hit me in the back of the head. In particular when playing with competetive players.

Right now I'm torn. I really really like the foundation of the game, but I'm not sure if I feel the same about the cooperation-part of the game.

The competetiveness of getting the most victory points, is certainly pulling opposite of the need to hold back in order to keep the natives content. In order to do this, everyone needs to agree on the pace. But you may have people that either don't want that to happen (The seperatist) and people who are either ignorant about it or too competetively minded to slow down as much as needed.

I think that my normal playgroup will run into a massive collection of revolutionary natives. soblue

Anyone else that have thoughts on this?
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Bartosz Rzepka
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The first player has best position, since he may decide if he is going to help, leaving the rest of players with no choice. So you can take first player possition, if you feel that other player is forcing you to pay every round.

Second thing is negotiations - in game you may trade with almost everything, so if you see one player has possibility to help with crisis, convince him you can pay something worth it - you may create some kind of monopoly to be in even best negotiations possition.

Next thing I can think of - if one player is not cooperating, you should gang him - block his tiles, actions etc. untill he starts cooperating.

Finally, you may stop paying too and either loose the game together or force him to pay.

There is a risk that one player is Separatist - if this is non-cooperative one, situation is obvious (you have to deal with crisises by yourself). If he is not, you may remind him, that somewhere there may be separatist and that he is helping more separatist player than himself.

EDIT:
One more idea - there are some buildings helping with negotiations - temples and towns - try to build and control them and you will have more negotiation power ("I will not stand up your meeples if you will not pay for this crisis" or "I will not let you gather tis resources if you will not help us".)
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Christian Cang
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I agree this "pseudo cooperative" aspect is not so straightforward, and it may affect the outcome of a game and be quite frustrating for the players...

What if we were to add a "compensation" for spending our own goods to help resolve crisis ?

For instance, a player that would give up one of his goods to reduce the revolted citizens could earn a bonus for next round (e.g. 1 or 2 of his own citizens would not get "revolted" next round ?)
Or some other compensation (money ? going up on the turn order ?...)

It would still need to be balanced with the game mecanisms.

Just a quick thought as I have only played twice the short game...

Still I find this game very appealing !!

plastic77
 
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Steen Bang-Madsen
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Gewar wrote:
There is a risk that one player is Separatist - if this is non-cooperative one, situation is obvious (you have to deal with crisises by yourself). If he is not, you may remind him, that somewhere there may be separatist and that he is helping more separatist player than himself.

You strike a truth... When introducing the game to new players, I've deliberately left out the seperatist and the pacifist. But once they are back in the loop, players will need to keep in mind, that by not focusing on the cooperation part, they may be handing victory to another player.

BUT! That's a doubleedged sword. What if his ignorance is being interpreted to "He must be the seperatist". Then people will try to calm the natives without his help, and he will be left to continue. Yes, you may then try to obstruct that particular player in other ways...
 
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Steen Bang-Madsen
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plastic77 wrote:
What if we were to add a "compensation" for spending our own goods to help resolve crisis ?

I would be veeeeery hesitant in making that sort of alterations/additions to the game. I would like to think, that the designer and playtesters actually do have a clue to what they are doing.

So, I don't think I want to think in this sort of workaround, until I've put some effort into getting my head around the problem.
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Thomas Büttner-Zimmermann
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You are pointing out exact the one thing I am pondering about.

I would really like to like this game. (I don't own it yet and am still thinking about it) But exactly the situation you describe comes to my mind when I try to decide if the game has a good mechanism - or if the cooperative part destroys it for competitive players.

The question is indeed: Why should I stand up YOUR meeples, if you can't?

The answer is, I believe: What will you give me to stand up your people? I need to spend one stone. Well, I want two wood for that from you. What? You don't want to pay? Well, not good for you, since the Rebellion may rise, BUT none of your Workers is now standing, so while we MAY still win against the rebellion, you will have NO workers at all this round. Say Good-Bye to winning this game!

But if you play this game with somebody who clearly don't want do give his fellow players (and competitors) ANYTHING, yes, then it will not work.

But isn't the same true for SETTLERS OF CATAN? You can hardly win, if you don't trade, while the other players do so - progressing much faster than you do...
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Thomas P. Felder
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I've read now so often about this concerns, it's fascinating as there's a simple solution even presented in the rule book - play with two trend cards, one being the Benefactor-trend card (p. 17).

A four point lead is a strong incentive. In contradiction to the variant description, I'd leave the pacifist and the separatist in the deck, though.
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Thomas Büttner-Zimmermann
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Well, only a 4 point lead in a five player game, and only against the last player on the benefactor card; BUT you are right! This is an additional way to score, and it certainly makes the donations interesting!

This could even lead to the effect as in TROYES, where a player with a monopoly of one ressource would, as starting player, just spend the ressources to stand ALL workers - just to take the lead as Benefactor!

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea!
 
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John Watts
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Stony wrote:
Gewar wrote:
There is a risk that one player is Separatist - if this is non-cooperative one, situation is obvious (you have to deal with crisises by yourself). If he is not, you may remind him, that somewhere there may be separatist and that he is helping more separatist player than himself.

You strike a truth... When introducing the game to new players, I've deliberately left out the seperatist and the pacifist. But once they are back in the loop, players will need to keep in mind, that by not focusing on the cooperation part, they may be handing victory to another player.

BUT! That's a doubleedged sword. What if his ignorance is being interpreted to "He must be the seperatist". Then people will try to calm the natives without his help, and he will be left to continue. Yes, you may then try to obstruct that particular player in other ways...


I also left out the Separatist in my introductory game but now I'm getting to grips with the rules i can safely say that the Separatist (and Pacifist) definitely help players focus more on keeping the game going, because only one person can win if the rebellion succeeds.

However, an interesting point raised here is that if one person 'gets the monk on' and decides that they want to end the game early and make everyone lose (assuming nobody has the Separatist) ie they want to be a tw*t, then they usually can. Of course, this would spoil the game for everyone else but it can be very difficult to prevent even if the other players gang up on the 'party-pooper'.

I really don't think of this game as co-operative because there is so much screwage involved.

On a slightly different note one of the biggest problems i've encountered is that during exploration you risk not being able to lay a tile because you can't match all of the terrain types. In two games now, a player (and it was ME in the second one) had to explore 4 times in a row before a single one successfully matched. This meant a loss of 3 actions which was a huge deficit to make up. Variant rules are definitely needed to prevent this happening - when it happened to me maybe i should have caused a rebellion so that we could have started again.....
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Thomas Büttner-Zimmermann
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As for the "party pooper": You could still just stand his workers for him. Gives you points (Benefactor card is in play) and prevents Rebellion. Easy as that.

And for the Exploration "problem": Maybe it was because you chose a difficult spot (e.g. combination of land and sea) to explore? As soon as the players know the tiles better, I can't imagine that this is a problem...
 
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Steen Bang-Madsen
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Almecho wrote:
As for the "party pooper": You could still just stand his workers for him. Gives you points (Benefactor card is in play) and prevents Rebellion. Easy as that.
No, regrettably it's not easy as that. If I had the separatist and wanted to spoil the party, I would aim towards somehow being last in the turn order. Once it's my turn to stand up my meeples, I just don't, and noone will be able to respond to it. If I've got eight meeples on the board, and six or seven of them are still lying down, then I will move the black meeple forward six-seven spaces. That could easily be a gamebreaker.
 
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Bartosz Rzepka
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Stony wrote:
Almecho wrote:
As for the "party pooper": You could still just stand his workers for him. Gives you points (Benefactor card is in play) and prevents Rebellion. Easy as that.
No, regrettably it's not easy as that. If I had the separatist and wanted to spoil the party, I would aim towards somehow being last in the turn order. Once it's my turn to stand up my meeples, I just don't, and noone will be able to respond to it. If I've got eight meeples on the board, and six or seven of them are still lying down, then I will move the black meeple forward six-seven spaces. That could easily be a gamebreaker.


So - you should never leave an opportunity to the last player to start revolution (unless you are absolutely sure he is not separatist) - if 6 is enough to end game, you may leave 5 workers to the last player. If he will not stand up them, you may be sure, he is separatist.
 
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Steen Bang-Madsen
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Gewar wrote:
So - you should never leave an opportunity to the last player to start revolution (unless you are absolutely sure he is not separatist) - if 6 is enough to end game, you may leave 5 workers to the last player. If he will not stand up them, you may be sure, he is separatist.
Fair point to raise the meeples of the last player, but if this happens during the last phase, and you've only got a gap of 1 between the white and the black meeple, I'm fairly content that it would be game over. So essentially you may need to rise ALL the meeples. But this could have the sweet sideeffect, that it may be lucrative to be last in the player order.
 
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Thomas Büttner-Zimmermann
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Stony wrote:
Almecho wrote:
As for the "party pooper": You could still just stand his workers for him. Gives you points (Benefactor card is in play) and prevents Rebellion. Easy as that.
No, regrettably it's not easy as that. If I had the separatist and wanted to spoil the party, I would aim towards somehow being last in the turn order. Once it's my turn to stand up my meeples, I just don't, and noone will be able to respond to it. If I've got eight meeples on the board, and six or seven of them are still lying down, then I will move the black meeple forward six-seven spaces. That could easily be a gamebreaker.

That is no game breaker - that is just the Separatist winning the game.

One thing we didn't considered: Every player has a hidden Objectuve card - stating a game end condition, and a scoring method.
So, since I don't know, what cards my fellow players have, I just can't know where I stand! Since it is very difficult to say, who is winning (at the moment), I honestly doubt there is a moment where somebody can clearly say: "Crap! I have ABSOLUTELY no chance of winning this game! Now I screw this up!!"

You have to be a very, very pessimistic person to think so in a normal situation. So, the more I think and write about this game, the more I am thinking that the KOOP will be no issue at all.
But I would always play the variant with the Benefactor - and still keep the special end cards in the game. Hey, it is even interesting for players who have neither Pacifist nor Separatist to keep the Rebellion on a level, where neither the Pacifist scores, nor the Separatist can easily end the game as winner with a Rebellion!
 
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Lennard Grimm
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Stony, what duration games have you been playing? Short, medium or long?

I've played the short game 3 times (two 2-player games and a 4-player) and never had a problem with the rebels exceeding the population. Maybe we don't play that cutthroat or we're playing it wrong (I don't believe so).
In 2 of those games I found that the rebel marker hardly moved (those were both games without progress cards that add rebels, like slavery) and one of those games included the separatist.
Only due to crisis on the export market, which sometimes wasn't payed. But almost never due to players not standing up their citizens, 'cause if you won't stand up your citizens there's not much you can do in your turn and you can pay with an exploration token to stand your citizens. Rebels being added through the 4 boards almost never happened.

I also can't believe why a single person would try to make everyone lose the game, if he thinks he's behind. Cause I wonder what that thought is based on. You only know one way to score victory points (except for the trend card) not the other ones. If you see someone else stacking up on something, just try to do that once and you'll score points as well.
The scores for the three games I played were very close. In all 3 games the difference was only 1 point.
And of course that player can make someone else (separatist) win the game. It would also be very hard for you to tell if someone is breaking the game, cause he might actually be winning it.

So I don't see a problem with the cooperation part. Not according to my plays. I do believe that there are a lot of ways this game can go (due to different cards, different archipelago layout and starting resources).
 
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Steen Bang-Madsen
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Almecho wrote:
Since it is very difficult to say, who is winning (at the moment), I honestly doubt there is a moment where somebody can clearly say: "Crap! I have ABSOLUTELY no chance of winning this game! Now I screw this up!!"
Well, I've experienced this once in the three games I've played, and it also happened at another table next to me. They don't need to know they are doing poorly. They just need to feel that way.

retteketet wrote:
Stony, what duration games have you been playing? Short, medium or long?
Two short games and one medium.

retteketet wrote:
I've played the short game 3 times (two 2-player games and a 4-player) and never had a problem with the rebels exceeding the population. Maybe we don't play that cutthroat or we're playing it wrong (I don't believe so).
In 2 of those games I found that the rebel marker hardly moved (those were both games without progress cards that add rebels, like slavery) and one of those games included the separatist.
Huh? I find that hard to believe. Not impossible, but hard. Did you remember to fill 6 of each goods type onto the domestic market at the start of the game? (I've experienced someone that forgot. ) That alone would ensure unemployment to rise, and in turn the raised unemployment will cause unrest. Even more so, if the players go exploring a lot.

In the short games, I never experienced the goods level in the domestic market drop much before the game ended, but in the medium length game it happened, and with an unfortunate combination two back-to-back crisis events, based on goods that were on low stock in the market, the game ended prematurely.

EDIT: Disregard. I'm talking rubbish.
 
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Thomas P. Felder
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Almecho wrote:
(...) And for the Exploration "problem": Maybe it was because you chose a difficult spot (e.g. combination of land and sea) to explore? As soon as the players know the tiles better, I can't imagine that this is a problem...

No, that not how it works.

Rule Book, p 10 wrote:
The active player decides whether he wants the first visible hexagon of the region deck. If not, he discards it to a separate discard pile and takes the next one. He must make that choice without advance knowledge of the next hexagon and without looking at the other side of the first visible hexagon. The hexagon deck must stay in its dedicated storage tray at all times. Once he has picked a hexagon, the player can look at both sides and decide which region to use.

So you first pick the hexagon and THEN decide on where to place it. We even allowed for trying it out first (without looking at the other side) for people being challenged by just imagine to fit it.
By looking at the other side a person decided to try that and acutally used the action.

I have a hard time to imagine that with three exploration actions (and thus 6 hexagon sides!), none fit.
 
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Itai Perez
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Stony wrote:
Huh? I find that hard to believe. Not impossible, but hard. Did you remember to fill 6 of each goods type onto the domestic market at the start of the game? (I've experienced someone that forgot. )


I am afraid you have been playing it wrong. You put in the domestic market 6 cubes, one of each color and not 6 of each color...

 
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Steen Bang-Madsen
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Itai wrote:
I am afraid you have been playing it wrong. You put in the domestic market 6 cubes, one of each color and not 6 of each color...

Oops! modest
 
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John Watts
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In both games i have experienced this exploration problem it has been the laying of the third hexagon that was the issue. At that point players were starting to get hemmed on both sides so matching the water and land is more difficult, particularly when ALL of the land types have to tally - including those bloody mountains!

Don't forget that you can't see the reverse of the top hex when you discard it to take the one underneath so we were effectively losing three hex sides of choices for the three failed actions (unless you have memorised both sides of every tile so you know what's on the reverse of the top one which would certainly help - maybe a variant using a crib sheet with all hexes displayed would help solve the problem and put everyone on a level playing field?).

The ease with which a player can force a rebellion ending is also enhanced by repeatedly buying the cards or rotating them out of the game - thus increasing the chances of a 'red' crisis.


Edit: removed quotes
 
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Lennard Grimm
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Stony wrote:
Itai wrote:
I am afraid you have been playing it wrong. You put in the domestic market 6 cubes, one of each color and not 6 of each color...

Oops! modest


Have you been playing it wrong or just writing it wrong in this post? Cause if you actually placed 6 cubes for each good, then the rebel marker would indeed move very fast.

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Steen Bang-Madsen
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retteketet wrote:
Have you been playing it wrong or just writing it wrong in this post? Cause if you actually placed 6 cubes for each good, then the rebel marker would indeed move very fast.
I played it wrong. So no I need to hit a full reverse, and see how my next game will evolve. But starting out low could be a hazard too, as a couple of early back-to-back crisis probably will get the unrest moving fast.
 
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Gary James
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As for not being able to place the tiles John, two things I found significanty reduced this occurring: 1) spread your citizens out so you have a variety of places to explore from 2) remember you can explore with a ship as well as a citizen - so you can place a tile that creates an island or unconnected land mass provided you can move a ship into its sea zone. You then have to migrate with a convoy action to get a citizen to it or recruit directly to the new land mass.

Gary

(Edited to add recruit option)
 
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Chris Boelinger
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Didn't have time to read you all, but just wanted to mention two things :

What's the point of being ahead and not Win ? What's the point of being ahead and losing versus the rebellion ? It's even worst than losing normally because all the other players will complain about you behavior, and the more you do it, the more they will point their arguments towards you. They may even finally not accept you at their table anymore...
What you mention in this subject is true, but one thing is missing : if this greedy player rushing to get a lead is smart enough, right from the start or after one game, once he finds himself leading he will understand that he needs to give away some stuff in order to win.

Best stat I have so far, a tournament that happened in Octogones a Game Fair in Lyon france. 24 participants. 6 tables of four. Thwo Swiss round and two finals. That's a total of 14 games with players competing to win. Only 4 games ended up with a revolution out of the 14 games played. This is a real measurement of what you pointing out since all those players were coming from various horizons and were all competing for victory !

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Chris Boelinger
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plastic77 wrote:

I agree this "pseudo cooperative" aspect is not so straightforward, and it may affect the outcome of a game and be quite frustrating for the players...

What if we were to add a "compensation" for spending our own goods to help resolve crisis ?

For instance, a player that would give up one of his goods to reduce the revolted citizens could earn a bonus for next round (e.g. 1 or 2 of his own citizens would not get "revolted" next round ?)
Or some other compensation (money ? going up on the turn order ?...)

It would still need to be balanced with the game mecanisms.

Just a quick thought as I have only played twice the short game...

Still I find this game very appealing !!

plastic77


This already exists. You just have to play with the benefactor trend ( Le bienfaiteur in French) and you won't have to worry about this problem with your greedy friend players, they will all compete to give away.
As a matter of fact each one of those variants are made to adapt the game to each certain type of group of players.

The No secret between friends is here to satisfy the more calculator and cube counting optimize players that like Agricola or Puerto Rico and don't like to be in the shadows of unknown elements or uncontrolled elements.
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