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Subject: runaway-leader problem rss

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Towerwood
Belgium
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What follows are the two cents of me and my girlfriend about the basic game, i.e. without expansions.

The first couple of times we played the game, now one year ago, we liked it quite a lot. Unfortunately, afterwards the more we played it the less we liked it. One part of the problem is the dominant luck factor. Now, games with a lot of luck aren't necessarily bad games. It's just a matter of taste whether you like those games or not. We own and like other games where luck is an important factor. We do consider a luck-driven game 'bad', however, when it regularly also suffers from a runaway-leader problem. In our experience, this is the case for the Settlers of Catan. To illustrate what we mean, we show the scores of our last 6 games:

1) A: 12 J: 6
2) A: 12 J: 7
3) J: 12 A: 8
4) J: 12 A: 11
5) A: 12 J: 6
6) J: 12 A: 6

As you can see, nor me (J) nor my girlfriend (A) dominates the game as both won 3 times. Not surprising because we have the same amount of experience. But in 5 out of 6 games the player who was ahead quite early in the game "ran away" from the player behind. Only one game (nr. 4) was "thrilling" and a lot of fun. Admitted, mentioning only 6 consecutive scores is rather low-number statistics but in our experience no more than about 1/3 of our games were fun for _both_ of us.

We guess this problem is inherent to the game mechanics. The more resources you have, the more buildings you can build. The more buildings you have the more likely you get even more income, more hand-cards, or more cards/buildings that protect you from bad luck. This then usually also implies you get the mill and/or the knight token which decrease even more the income of your opponent. We also find that very often it's the leading player that steals cards, destroys buildings, or eliminates knights from the player behind, making life for the latter even more miserable . So, in about 2/3 of our games, the winner got it all.

What should we conclude? We think that either this game is flawed with a runaway-leader problem, or we still don't have enough experience to know how to come back from a losing position. If the latter is the case, we wonder what should we know to actually enjoy the majority of our games?

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Jeff Paull
United States
Cumming
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ziph4,

The basic 2 player game is fun, but I agree that it can be difficult to catch the leader. This is even more acute when it is the _same_ 2 people playing each time. Each follows the same strategy (ie get the 5th settlement), so it feels a bit scripted.

Try mixing it up and getting a red building out early. Oftentimes, red buildings are built in the last few rounds and don't get to use their power often.

If that doesn't spice it up.... try this:

expansions, expansions, exapansions.

--JP
 
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Ray Jankowski
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I've had several games where there would seem to be a runaway leader problem, but then again, I've been behind 3 to 10, and suddenly, everything would go my way, and I'd end up winning. The same thing happens in regular Settlers. The person sitting in last place grabs victory in the end. I don't think the game is broken....
 
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John McGeehan
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Manchester
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One thing that I've tried when playing this game is to act as if the starting resource cards for both sides have the same numbers - ignore the numbers on one side's starting ones and assume they're both the same - i.e. a given number will always give both people the same resources at the start of the game, and this would only change as players get new ones. This means that rolling certain numbers wouldn't lead to one player getting a bunch of, say, gold, while the other gets something useful.

Another thing we've done before is decree that, when using the Scout, a player cannot take both Mountain (ore) resource cards. If they draw them randomly as a part of creating a new settlement, then fine, that's life.

A last thing we've thought of, but not used, that has been suggested here, is to use the Strength points of Knights to add to the number of ungarrisoned resources one can have before triggering the raider/brigand whatever it is roll (for example, instead of it being 7 resources, treat it as "4+knight strength"). That makes Knights, particularly ones with Strength values, more useful.

When we do this, we've found that the 5th settlement doesn't always lead to victory - yes, there's an advantage, but not an overwhelming one.

T.
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Alex Churchill
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Wow... that's odd, what you say about the runaway leader problem. I've never seen this game suffer from this problem. Every game right from the start has been very close-fought, usually going 10-12 or 11-12 with the base game, and often 11-13 or 12-13 in the expansions. There was only one exception, which was a combination between bad strategy and bad luck.
 
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Gary Averett
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Salt Lake City
Utah
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uh...whose turn is it?
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I've never had a runaway leader problem. The ability to take the windmill and knight tokens away helps and too many resourses is often solved by brigands attack. The ability to spend resources to look through a stack and take the card that you want is big. The expansions really do add the possibility for different strategies, so don't discount them.

My 2 cents.
 
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Bob Wilson
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I came to the game entry for SoC Card Game today just to see if anyone else had the same runaway leader issue. I am bored to death with this game for this reason...
 
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Bob Wilson
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Tarrant wrote:
One thing that I've tried when playing this game is to act as if the starting resource cards for both sides have the same numbers - ignore the numbers on one side's starting ones and assume they're both the same - i.e. a given number will always give both people the same resources at the start of the game, and this would only change as players get new ones. This means that rolling certain numbers wouldn't lead to one player getting a bunch of, say, gold, while the other gets something useful.

Another thing we've done before is decree that, when using the Scout, a player cannot take both Mountain (ore) resource cards. If they draw them randomly as a part of creating a new settlement, then fine, that's life.

A last thing we've thought of, but not used, that has been suggested here, is to use the Strength points of Knights to add to the number of ungarrisoned resources one can have before triggering the raider/brigand whatever it is roll (for example, instead of it being 7 resources, treat it as "4+knight strength"). That makes Knights, particularly ones with Strength values, more useful.

When we do this, we've found that the 5th settlement doesn't always lead to victory - yes, there's an advantage, but not an overwhelming one.

T.


Brilliant suggestions!!!!
 
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