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Subject: Avoiding Bad Luck Hands - For new or frustrated players rss

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Jordan Franklin
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So far, I absolutely love this game.

Though, one of the more frustrating elements of the game is the bad luck upon hand draw. This can be especially devastating at the start of the game, and very difficult for new players to overcome. Example: Starting hand has no move cards in it, causing a very rough start down a slippery slope to last place.

That being said, I have tried to think of a few ways to remedy this problem.

1.) Allow players to reshuffle and redraw their hand once at the start of their first turn of the game. They must keep their second hand if they choose to do this.

2.) At the end of any of a players turns, after drawing a new hand, they may choose to discard 1 card and draw another.

3.) Same as two, but put the card at the bottom of the deck instead of discarding. This would help to prevent the rounds from progressing too quickly.

4.) Same as three, except you place the card sideways at the bottom of your deck. Once you draw down to the sideways cards, incur some penalty such as reducing the players hand limit by 1 for the remainder of the round. This may cause players to think twice before exchanging a card every turn.

As players get more games under their belts, these rules may not be necessary, but it is painful to watch a friend who is learning the game get screwed over with bad luck and develop a premature negative bias right off the bat.

Thoughts and insights are appreciated.
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Keith Wilson
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I'm having this problem. I played the base game quite often, I could beat the two cities but I could never get a good score.

Now the expansion is out I have no chance of beating Volkare. Do you have tips for new players (not that I'm new, just no good ) that don't involve changing the rules also?
 
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David desJardins
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I want to try giving everyone at least one March or Stamina card at the start of the game.

After the start, I don't see any reason for change. Good or bad draws later in the game are helpful, they keep the game from being too processional and deterministic.
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Jordan Franklin
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I have only played the game 4 times, and am still learning as well. I find reading game reports of players who had good scores to be very helpful. You can see what decisions they made to help them get there.
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Quietuss wrote:

Thoughts and insights are appreciated.


You've already got Rethink and Great Start during the day and Midnight Meditation and Preparation at night to fix your starting hand. Adding more hand fiddling will devalue those tactics and probably lead to people trying to bend your rules to their advantage.

If you're worried about a friend having trouble, why don't you just give them play advice instead of adding a bunch of rules to remember in a game that already has a bunch of rules to remember?

If you feel a change is actually necessary David's seems the easiest and most equitable. It's not as open to abuse as your suggestions are.
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David desJardins
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I definitely agree with not adding rules that make the game more complicated.

Another idea to make the start less cutthroat would be to give each player a skill (draw 2, keep 1) at the start of the game. You would still get an advanced action (but no skill) at your first level up. This can't really break the game, some players level up on their first turn now. But it would definitely help with some of the less favorable starts.
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Phil S. Stein
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The daytime Tactic "Rethink" helps with this a bit. It allows you to discard 3 cards from your hand, deal 3 new cards from the deed deck, then shuffle the discarded cards back into the deed deck. And since you choose tactics after looking at your hand, a player that gets a bad starting hand can do something about it.

Of course this does not help if the player before you takes that Tactic.

The "Midnight Meditation" Tactic is similar allowing you to shuffle your hand back into your deed deck, then redraw.
 
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David desJardins
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philsstein wrote:
The daytime Tactic "Rethink" helps with this a bit. It allows you to discard 3 cards from your hand, deal 3 new cards from the deed deck, then shuffle the discarded cards back into the deed deck. And since you choose tactics after looking at your hand, a player that gets a bad starting hand can do something about it.


It's pretty hard to use and fairly often I see it backfire. If you could draw then discard, it would be a lot better for optimizing your hand. As it is, often you end up throwing away the cards that you wanted when you see what you draw.
 
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Mark Bauer
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I think there was a mulligan houserule discussed somewhere else.
I think it can be sufficient if you don't have any movement cards in your hand, you can show your hand, reshuffle your deck and draw a new hand.

edit: of course only at the beginning of the game
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Chris Linneman
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DaviddesJ wrote:

It's pretty hard to use and fairly often I see it backfire. If you could draw then discard, it would be a lot better for optimizing your hand. As it is, often you end up throwing away the cards that you wanted when you see what you draw.


But it's the #2 tactic, so it's not supposed to be very powerful. If you want to draw cards and keep what you have, there's Great Start. Honestly, I have played this game a lot, and I have never seen someone have no move to start a round after tactic selection (unless they want to because they are already where they want to be). If this has happened to you, you may want to play with a mulligan rule on the first turn of the game or use David's suggestion to include one Stamina or March card in each opening hand by default. I can't imagine any more house ruling than that to be necessary.
 
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David desJardins
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QBert80 wrote:
But it's the #2 tactic, so it's not supposed to be very powerful.


On the other hand, Mana Steal is #3 and it's quite strong. I rarely see anyone take Rethink and it's always accompanied by a lot of grumbling. (Or someone is choosing last and both #1 and #2 are available so there's no cost to take it.)
 
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Rod Aguirre
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Tactics # 5 gives 2 extra cards so the new player can pick that one. At Night there's another one that gives cards. Don't remember which one.
 
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Sam Butler
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I want to try giving everyone at least one March or Stamina card at the start of the game.

After the start, I don't see any reason for change. Good or bad draws later in the game are helpful, they keep the game from being too processional and deterministic.


Exactly this! At the beginning, I think you need a good move card; after that, it's time to try to figure out the puzzle.

If, for example, I draw a hand that is light on influence the second time, I'll try to end somewhere that I will use influence (or be close to a spot using influence) the next round. Similarly, if I am light on attack so far halfway through my deck, I'll try to get within a space or two of an enemy, so next turn I can really lay down the hate.
 
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Joseph Cochran
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Quietuss wrote:
Though, one of the more frustrating elements of the game is the bad luck upon hand draw. This can be especially devastating at the start of the game, and very difficult for new players to overcome. Example: Starting hand has no move cards in it, causing a very rough start down a slippery slope to last place.


There are two cases here.

Case one is what you state above: new players (where I will define "new" as someone who has done the walkthrough but hasn't yet played more than a few games past that) stuck with little or no movement and not knowing how to adapt for that. In that case I'm all in favor of a mulligan. I want them to be able to learn the game in an enjoyable way. Because if they have a good time they will play with me again.

Case two is experienced players. I don't think a house rule is necessary for that case. For an experienced player, managing the hand is part of the risk/reward structure of the game (as other people have already noted, there are two Day Tactics that can reduce the odds of no movement to negligible levels, and even if you have a hand of other things, you should know what remains in your deck and be able to craft a strategy based on what you will draw that will allow you to use appropriate cards sideways).
 
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Chris Linneman
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DaviddesJ wrote:

On the other hand, Mana Steal is #3 and it's quite strong. I rarely see anyone take Rethink and it's always accompanied by a lot of grumbling. (Or someone is choosing last and both #1 and #2 are available so there's no cost to take it.)


Sure, but Planning is really good, and so is Great Start. The only outlier is The Right Moment, which hardly ever gets chosen in my group.

Point being, yeah, Rethink is the weakest tactic with an ability, but it also lets you go first (unless someone takes the even weaker Early Bird, of course). I think it's nice they included it, otherwise there would be a lot more bitching about card luck.
 
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David desJardins
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QBert80 wrote:
I think it's nice they included it, otherwise there would be a lot more bitching about card luck.


My observation is that Rethink does virtually nothing to ameliorate the effects of bad initial draws, and therefore it also does little to reduce "bitching".

Like I said, I hardly ever see Rethink taken. And, a large fraction of the time when it is, the player just gets a bad redraw, and then it's just made the problem worse.
 
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Chris Linneman
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DaviddesJ wrote:

My observation is that Rethink does virtually nothing to ameliorate the effects of bad initial draws, and therefore it also does little to reduce "bitching".

Like I said, I hardly ever see Rethink taken. And, a large fraction of the time when it is, the player just gets a bad redraw, and then it's just made the problem worse.


Hmmm. My experience has been quite the opposite; Rethink has often turned a weak hand into a passable or even good one. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on the subject.
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Chris Berry
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my experience with rethink has been different; when I get a weak movement hand I generally get 1 or two movement cards out of rethink. but mileage varies game to game.
 
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Brandon Crowson
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Tactics are an obvious way to help fix a poor starting hand, but lets look at other ways to ameliorate "bad luck" draws. I'm going to preface these suggestions by saying I have only played this game 3 times (1 first reconnaisance, 2 solo conquest), and I'm actually midway through my third game, I'm waiting to finish my last 2 rounds once I get home from work.

1. Hero skills - All the heroes have ways to either affect card draw or influence mana tokens to maximize the hands that you draw. Last night I got Tovak's "Motivtion" skill on my first level up, it's basically a "Great Start" tactic that you can use any time during your round.

2. Training AA - I love this advanced action, I used it to great affect my last game to replace a few cards in my deck with other's that I felt I needed more. With Training, I was able to pick up a Song of Wind and Diplomacy by trashing a Swiftness and Promise. Not huge differences, but minor upgrades that also give greater flexibility.

3. Cheap units early game - an early-game forester or peasant can pay big dividends early on, and you can always disband them for a better unit mid/end game. A peasant is cheap to recruit and you can use him in a pinch when you really need that extra move/attack/block.

I'm sure there are many more ways than I've explained here, again I'm only halfway through my third game ever (just purchased this gem on Monday) so I'm not as familiar as others may be.
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Jordan Franklin
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After reading the comments, I think the best option would be to allow one mulligan hand at the start of the first round given the player shows his/her hand and there no movement cards present. Players do not draw a tactic card until after they mulligan,or forego the option to mulligan.

Otherwise, the game is probably best left to it's rules regarding this matter.
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birchbeer
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I want to try giving everyone at least one March or Stamina card at the start of the game.

After the start, I don't see any reason for change. Good or bad draws later in the game are helpful, they keep the game from being too processional and deterministic.


This seems reasonable. I'm reminded of the Mulligan Rule in another deeply strategic game, Titan, where a bad opening movement roll can have far-reaching consequences. Besides, I'd think any adventurer who stepped into quicksand as soon as he stepped off his back porch might just call-it-a-day, have a couple pints of grog, and set out early the next morning.
 
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