I'm reluctant to accept that the game is unplayable because of the runaway bridge-building problem others have described. I love the game (see my review: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/874467/europhile-reviews-a-f...) I thought it would be good to get a few thoughts on it.
The supposed problem is this: In La Venise du Nord, one of the end-game conditions is if one player builds five bridges. The "problem" arises if one player immediately sets about building bridges at the start of the game, they can very quickly (in 15 minutes or so) achieve their five bridges. This nets them up to 25 points depending on the positioning. It is unlikely that any other player will have amassed this many points yet through other strategies (selling goods etc.) so the bridge-maker will win the game. This means that all players must focus on preventing bridge-building in the early stages of the game, primarily by building their own bridges. Those used to European-style games will be inclined towards picking a strategy at the beginning of the game and pursuing it, letting the other players do their own thing. Most European-style games balance these scoring opportunities so that all players will do well, if they approach their own strategy, but one player will be the most efficient and win the game at a set point. In La Venise du Nord, it seems the players are forced to spend much of their energy blocking and preventing other players, rather than focussing on their own activities.
My own experience: I have played the game twice. In my first game, we played for quite a while, working out the rules, trying different strategies etc. Then one player spotted the opportunity to build bridges and end the game, went ahead, and finished up winning quite quickly. In my second game, the same player built bridges from the outset and won the game within 15-20 minutes. Admittedly, we're all new to the game so the other players didn't spot what he was doing in time to stop him. I suspect that in future games I will be able to do something to counter his bridge-building, but if other players don't do this as well, doesn't this take me out of the game? They will benefit by pursuing their own strategy unaffected. The other problem is the "bridge-builder" has come to the conclusion that the game is solved, and that there is no point him playing it anymore. He is not a BGG user, and hence uninfluenced by other comments on here. At the very least, there is a problem in the game if it is so easy for players to jump to this conclusion, as a handful seem to have done so far on the game's BGG page.
I would be interested in an opinion from the designer or play-testers. What is the purpose of the bridge-building game-end condition? What would be the effect of playing using the other game-end conditions, but ignoring this one? Or could it be made more difficult by saying that the five bridges must be built in a chain to end the game?
I really don't want to write this game off, but I've already lost one of my main gaming-partners where this game is concerned. I will, of course, play it some more, try some different strategies and report back. Everything else about the game is wonderful! I want it to remain in regular play with my group.
Thanks for your report, and your constructive attitude.
As many new players have this reaction about bridges, we must admit that there is "something".
We are really surprised, because we never saw this reaction during the numerous playtests Asyncron's team made with core gamers as less experimented ones. Sebastien Dujardin made himself many personnal tests, he too never found this problem.
We both have some experience in game development, so it's really surprising.
Here is my personnal feeling :
I first thought perhaps players didn't play the right rules.
I think that because myself i first forgot during several games one important rule which can modify the bridge strategy power, and i found another mistake on a game review which can have the same effect.
Here they are :
1) when you build a bridge, you have to remove one of the two dice which allow you to build the bridge
2)a control dice can be replaced by a dice with EQUAL value. So even a 1 can be replaced by another 1.
I keep thinking that some new players made one or both of this errors, as i did myself during my first games.
But let's say it isn't.
I think it's true that if a player is going on a "all bridges" strategy and nobody react, he can win easily. But it will only happen in this particular case : a well playing player, and weak opponents.
You can compare this with scholar's mate in chess ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholar%27s_mate )
Does it make chess a bad game !? I don't think so.
I found myself same feeling experience in A few acre of snow (something completely different ! ), where my first games ended by a big defeat with french, because i didn't know how to counter military ship strategy of British player, and i did common mistake for beginners by making a (too) big deck.
That said, believe me when i say that with experimented players, "all bridges" strategy is not a winning one. Too easy to counter, and very risked.
But saying this doesn't resolve the problem : it seems that we "loose" new players because they don't see that.
Your idea to remove the bridges end condition is interesting.
As we didn't find this "problem", we didn't test this option.
I think the main problem is that it makes the bridge strategy weaker, so with experimented players it will bee too weak.
But with beginners it can work. And if the result is to please more beginners, it will be perfect. It's really ennoying that players miss all the quality of the game because of such a few point. So an optionnal rule for beginners could be the right solution.
We will test this on our side, and if you do it yourself, please report the result. Specially if you play with your reluctant partner !
All i said is my personnal feeling. I am going to ask Sébastien Dujardin to answer here.
He already did it in another BGG topic :
- Last edited Wed Dec 5, 2012 8:55 am (Total Number of Edits: 6)
- Posted Wed Dec 5, 2012 8:44 am