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Subject: Why I'm selling RtfG and keeping San Juan rss

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Eddie
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I bought both. I knew my wife, and my close semi-gamer friends would enjoy San Juan, but not RtfG. My co workers, big gamers (like one like Caylus to give you an idea) -- I thought they would love the depth of RtfG.

But sadly today we played our last game. Yesterday we played San Juan, enjoyed it. Today we pull out RtfG. We're feeling mostly ready for it. (this was about our fourth game).

And then I get that same feeling again, like there is just too much to track, too many "things" -- you feel like you are swimming in the depth, not analyzing it from above and planning. Deciphering and keeping track of the power usage (that might actually be an objective design complaint)...

Suddenly I'm six cards in on my tableau and one of the players was doing a VP chip grab (hey, he could get 8 every other turn! can't blame him).

So then one of the players ends it by VP chips. We all felt a bit meh...

And while I do not think RtfG is a bad game at all, if I was building myself a huge collection of games I would certainly keep it on my shelf, but in reality I'm trying to have a small collection of games I truly love AND that I can play often. Sadly RtfG isn't it :-( I'll miss it, kinda.

San Juan does make me want to some day get Puerto Rico. But RtfG, as a "step up" from San Juan just seems to have gone perhaps a bit far for some?
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David desJardins
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isthar wrote:
San Juan does make me want to some day get Puerto Rico. But RtfG, as a "step up" from San Juan just seems to have gone perhaps a bit far for some?


There wouldn't be 64454 different games in the BGG database if everyone liked the same things.
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Eddie
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DaviddesJ wrote:
isthar wrote:
San Juan does make me want to some day get Puerto Rico. But RtfG, as a "step up" from San Juan just seems to have gone perhaps a bit far for some?


There wouldn't be 64454 different games in the BGG database if everyone liked the same things.


Sure, of course. Thing is, I don't think RtfG was something I didn't *like*. I would argue that as cousins, SJ and RtfG are either liked together, or not, as a style. I have nothing against the RtfG game style - concretely I was thinking the following:
- why bother having windfall vs normal production worlds? I might have preferred if production was just a single thing
- could a design have made the power reading more streamlines rather than feeling like you have to eyeball the entire tableau every time back and forth? (in SJ you end up able to somewhat memorize what 'powers' you have)

I was hoping that the depth would be what would keep me playing for a long time (kinda like how those that don't like Mage Knight cuz it "has too much", but I love it for that because at some point you end up assimilating the rules internally and don't think of it as complex anymore)...

I was also looking at the most-played-games-last-month geek list, and I do see how much it gets played. I think I'll never turn down a game if offered, but just can't picture it in my top 10 boxes I keep.

Not looking for answers of course, perhaps some might tell me that after 20 games it is second nature, and that might be. Was just writing down my thoughts in case somebody is doing the SJ/RtfG comparison. If you are reading this doing said comparison, do look at my collection to get a sense of what I play...
 
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David desJardins
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isthar wrote:
I would argue that as cousins, SJ and RtfG are either liked together, or not, as a style.


Your own experience contradicts that. You like one more than the other, precisely because of the ways they are different. The things you like less about RFTG are the same things that other people like more. That's why both games exist and are reasonably popular: some people like one more and some people like the other more.
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Matt N

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If you want a card game that's somewhat like San Juan but is more amenable to long term planning, Eminent Domain could be a good option. The cards repeat themselves a lot more, so they are easier to learn, and there is not much deciphering to do.

Hopefully you can find the game that's right for you. I'd encourage you to give Rftg another shot at some point after a while; it's possible that things might start to click. Once you're used to the cards, everything fits much better and it's easier to develop a good strategy. Until then, stick to what works for your group.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
isthar wrote:
San Juan does make me want to some day get Puerto Rico. But RtfG, as a "step up" from San Juan just seems to have gone perhaps a bit far for some?


There wouldn't be 64454 different games in the BGG database if everyone liked the same things.


64K should be enough for anyone
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Scot Ryder
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monteslu wrote:

64K should be enough for anyone

Bite your tongue!
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isthar wrote:
San Juan does make me want to some day get Puerto Rico. But RtfG, as a "step up" from San Juan just seems to have gone perhaps a bit far for some?
isthar wrote:
I was also looking at the most-played-games-last-month geek list, and I do see how much it gets played. I think I'll never turn down a game if offered, but just can't picture it in my top 10 boxes I keep.

Not looking for answers of course, perhaps some might tell me that after 20 games it is second nature, and that might be. Was just writing down my thoughts in case somebody is doing the SJ/RtfG comparison. If you are reading this doing said comparison, do look at my collection to get a sense of what I play...


When people ask about all 3 of them, they all got their relations and disconnects....

PR and SJ are similar by theme
RftG and SJ are similar in where they both use that card mechanic of paying for cards with other cards that are in your hand
RftG and PR are most similar in gameplay: such as there are reasons to have inferior goods over the superior ones; there's a way to convert goods to VP

I don't like how some people say RftG and SJ are most similar b/c they're both card games. There's more to it than that. It's like how someone just broadly generalizes that RftG and Dominion are similar b/c they both use cards, or how that's the only thing they have in common. Well, they both have more in common to each other than vs. Uno or Poker.

These days, I prefer RftG. I acknowledge PR is a great game, but it's just too "multiplayer chess" for me, vs. RftG's "multiplayer solitaire" I'm burnt out enough on PR that I'll only play the 10th anniv. edition. I never intended to buy SJ, but ended up getting a coyp when a fellow gamer let me borrowed it, and never asked for it back, despite me reminding him I still have his copy.

I'll play SJ when it's a bunch of nongamers or time constraints. However, I'm burnt out on SJ that I ABSOLUTELY MUST plya it with the exp. However, SJ with the exp is still easier to teach than base game RftG, so I don't feel bad about doing so.

isthar wrote:
Sure, of course. Thing is, I don't think RtfG was something I didn't *like*. I would argue that as cousins, SJ and RtfG are either liked together, or not, as a style. I have nothing against the RtfG game style - concretely I was thinking the following:
- why bother having windfall vs normal production worlds? I might have preferred if production was just a single thing
Design choice... more variety, and to show that something like a good can have a "shelf life". Ditto with PR... I hear Construction Hut is often one of those buildings you man early on, but unman once you get enough Quarries to be able to use any other building which would almost be more useful at that point in the game.

Speaking of which, it's like asking why SJ needed 5 different types of plantations instead of just 4 or 3. Or why have Quarries AND Smithies... why not just have one building that gives discounts on everything and the cost and VP changed accordingly


isthar wrote:
- could a design have made the power reading more streamlines rather than feeling like you have to eyeball the entire tableau every time back and forth? (in SJ you end up able to somewhat memorize what 'powers' you have)
Any suggestions on how to streamline this, b/c I can't think of any.

ALthough I consider myself a vets of both games, I was able to memorize the RftG cards after many (but not THAT) many plays.
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E Thomas
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isthar wrote:

(this was about our fourth game).


isthar wrote:
I'm trying to have a small collection of games I truly love AND that I can play often.


Different strokes for different folks, so I'm not going to criticize your decision. But I can guarantee that 4 games of RFTG is not enough to get a hold on what the game is all about. It took me about 20 plays to only start to figure it out, another 20 to only start paying effective attention to what my opponents are doing. I consider myself to be at least average in picking these things up.

Fortunately, there are some nice tools to help a person learn how to play RFTG (local play against the robot using Keldon's A.I., and PvP competition on boardgamearena.com). They are quick to play and certainly helped me get up to speed faster than I normally would have.

I certainly understand RFTG can be overwhelming at first, and perhaps not present clear paths to victory. But trust me, the paths are many and varied and will reveal themselves with time. It's depth is precisely what sets it apart from the games it is typically lumped in with.

I found that San Juan on the other hand, while easier to grasp at first, was mostly played out strategically after about 10 rounds. There is only so much you can do in that game. So you may find that in a while, it no longer meets your stated goal of having a small collection of games that you can play often.

Both games are good, one is great but takes time to appreciate which may not be for you.

I also agree the Eminent Domain might be another good choice for you if you enjoy the role selection mechanic. It has a nice engine and is easier to learn to play effectively than RFTG (if your not using Keldon's A.I. or BGA).

Good Luck!
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Eddie
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Stunna wrote:
If you want a card game that's somewhat like San Juan but is more amenable to long term planning, Eminent Domain could be a good option. The cards repeat themselves a lot more, so they are easier to learn, and there is not much deciphering to do.


Cool, thanks for the suggestion. I have heard ED come up here and there, so I may as well start reading up on it.
 
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Just to echo others sentiments, I feel like if you play RftG enough times, you memorize the cards so you don't have to scan your tableau every phase. When my wife and I were still less than 50 games we would arrange cards in rows by powers to help simplify. I appreciate the variety given because not only does it make the game more interesting (what card will I draw now?) it reinforces that an important skill in the game is adapting whatever you get to your hand, your tableau, and your opponents hands and tableaus - which I will use as my final point, the feeling you're expressing about how someone "just ended" the game as you were ramping up - I would like to really put emphasis on the word "Race." It's important to adapt your strategy if you see someone working on a setup that could abruptly end the game. I get the feeling that a lot of those who don't get into RftG play it looking through the deck for certain cards rather than tweaking and adjusting their strategy on every draw.

edit: post got eaten. Was also going to add that one of my favorite attributes of Race as a 2p game is how the two players scores will often be very close but the actual value is so different from game to game.

Also, we have tried a handful of times Eminent Domain as a 2p game and usually come out feeling it's a little too simple compared to RftG. We don't have the expansion though, and we certainly haven't played enough to really comment on it.
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Matthew Tadyshak
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You need to play RftG more. Seriously, 4 is a pitiful amount of plays. Heck, I play it 4 times in a row when I play the game.
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E Thomas
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isthar wrote:

- why bother having windfall vs normal production worlds?


Because one (windfall) gives you a good right now that you can trade for cards this round, setting you up with a strong hand for the start of the next round, while the other gives you ongoing production at the cost of an action (someone playing production) to get its benefit.

Windfall: Settle/Trade
Production: Settle/Produce

The former gives you more options at the start of the next round, while the latter basically costs you a round for achieving similar options (because you have to wait until late in the next round to do the trade and get more cards).

Windfall worlds are the key to a strong card flow strategy. More cards in hand equals more options.

Production worlds are the key to a strong produce/consume strategy, or strategy of leeching off of your opponent's produce/consume role selection.

Of course, this says nothing of the 6-cost developments, which may reward one type of world over another...
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Peter Bakija
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isthar wrote:
- why bother having windfall vs normal production worlds? I might have preferred if production was just a single thing


Normal production worlds are good for Produce/Consume strategies and to leech off of other people calling Produce. Windfall worlds are for a quick leg up, often for Military strategies, to grab a cheap Windfall world early and then trade the good. They provide different options and support different plans.

Quote:
- could a design have made the power reading more streamlines rather than feeling like you have to eyeball the entire tableau every time back and forth? (in SJ you end up able to somewhat memorize what 'powers' you have)


I don't know that I understand what you mean here.

Quote:
Not looking for answers of course,


Well, ya know, the Internet. You'll get answers.
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I'll add a vote for "play it a few more times..."

I played Race four or five times and did NOT get it. I then got the Keldon A.I. and played about 10 games, watching to see what the AI did with certain starting cards, and started to realize what was really going on. (Why did he choose "trade" on the first turn?)

You don't need to memorize your tableau once you realize which strategy (-ies) you are playing. Once you know where the VP sources are, you develop goals to get you there, and you know which cards to ignore or use to pay for settling and development, discard, etc. You also quickly learn the various 6-cost developments and the blocks of cards that support them, and that makes scanning/memorizing easier, too. Once you know WHY each card exists, the game is much more challenging and rewarding.

After that first burst of 10 plays, and after starting to realize how the various pieces fit together, I finally got a victory where my engine WORKED and destroyed the two AI players. Then I started to see what RftG could really be. I now regularly play three or four times at a sitting with the AI, and at least twice when playing with people.
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You know, I actually did enjoy the Keldon A.I. (and there I played a whole bunch more)... it's just when I tried to get my gaming group...

We actually sat down for a 2p one last time after I posted this and we found ourselves again (perhaps unlucky us) spotting this "broken" feeling -- my friend ended up creating the 8VP chips-per-turn thing at about 5 cards on the tableau, since he had the opportunity that showed up in his hand to get the 3cards->3VP, 2cards->1VP, w/ production worlds going, etc. After that all he did was consume-trade/produce (advanced 2P rules)... the only chance I had was to go for high VP settlements/developments (and I didn't even get great ones at that) and I got trounced. It almost felt like if we house ruled that the game can only end at 12 cards we'd enjoy the game more, hah!

You know how Dominion gets similar arguments sometimes? That feeling when you see someone pull of a village-smithy engine for the first time and you just go "euh... this game is broken"; but quickly you realize "oh! duh! I had almost all the same chances to build that up, since the kingdom cards are right there for everyone... I get it now!"; here of course your own private draw I find is trickier to work with than a random draw of your own deck in something like Dominion. I suppose this would be my way of saying RtfG has "runaway leader" issues? not sure.


I'm with everyone saying play it some more; I think it would reach that point. Sadly I'm not the one to love seeing a huge collection taking up physical space unplayed... and I end up using the freed up $ and space for another game anyways

Now to shrug off my guilty feeling about continuing to play RtfG on the computer even though I won't continue to own the physical box - hope you don't mind Tom!
 
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bakija wrote:

Quote:
- could a design have made the power reading more streamlines rather than feeling like you have to eyeball the entire tableau every time back and forth? (in SJ you end up able to somewhat memorize what 'powers' you have)


I don't know that I understand what you mean here.


Well, each phase that gets called, after you're done doing the basic actions, you then need to scan your tableau to see if you have powers to use for the phase. Between production worlds covering some stuff up, having seven rows to look at per card, etc. that's what I found a bit overwhelming. I do think someone could have been done to help this. Color per row? a horizontal line to delineate the phases?

In 2020 perhaps we'll have cards that will fade out all the irrelevant powers and leave you only seeing the ones to play for this phase?

I'll add something about how I like to play games - I like to watch others doing their turn, what they do, etc. With all I had to follow and hold in my head, I couldn't even enjoy watching them!
 
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isthar wrote:
Well, each phase that gets called, after you're done doing the basic actions, you then need to scan your tableau to see if you have powers to use for the phase. Between production worlds covering some stuff up, having seven rows to look at per card, etc. that's what I found a bit overwhelming. I do think someone could have been done to help this. Color per row? a horizontal line to delineate the phases?


Oh, I see. Ok. Well, once you have played a bunch, it becomes pretty intuitive--you know what you have in play, and put it there for a reason, and so know what is going to happen most of the time. But I can certainly see how this could be confusing early on in game play.
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E Thomas
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bakija wrote:
isthar wrote:
Well, each phase that gets called, after you're done doing the basic actions, you then need to scan your tableau to see if you have powers to use for the phase. Between production worlds covering some stuff up, having seven rows to look at per card, etc. that's what I found a bit overwhelming. I do think someone could have been done to help this. Color per row? a horizontal line to delineate the phases?


Oh, I see. Ok. Well, once you have played a bunch, it becomes pretty intuitive--you know what you have in play, and put it there for a reason, and so know what is going to happen most of the time. But I can certainly see how this could be confusing early on in game play.


Yes, once you know "why" you are playing cards, the tableau scan becomes a non-issue.
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Pete Goch
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What's harder is scanning your opponent(s) tableau when deciding what phase to play (and seeing how well they might take advantage of that). That also gets much easier with familiarity and experience.

Is it that you just don't find that level of paying attention/reading the game state enjoyable on any level or that you're frustrated with how difficult it is for you at the moment? If it's the later then Keldon's AI is a great way to get over that hump. An investment in time just playing the game for several hours over the course of several days will pay off in leaps and bounds if you think it's the sort of game you could enjoy if it just were all a bit easier.
 
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Yeah When I first played this I got mystified by the icons.... that lasted all of 2 games. After than I've found the icons to speed up play a lot.
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Jay Weesner
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NBAfan wrote:
You need to play RftG more. Seriously, 4 is a pitiful amount of plays. Heck, I play it 4 times in a row when I play the game.


I am determined to understand this game before I die. Thankfully I have long-suffering friends who are willing to stick with me during the learning process (they know it backwards and forwards). It's "finally" starting to make sense and I'm beginning to enjoy it. The first few times I just threw my hands up in the air and said, "I'll never figure out this stupid game!"
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isthar wrote:
We actually sat down for a 2p one last time after I posted this and we found ourselves again (perhaps unlucky us) spotting this "broken" feeling -- my friend ended up creating the 8VP chips-per-turn thing at about 5 cards on the tableau, since he had the opportunity that showed up in his hand to get the 3cards->3VP, 2cards->1VP, w/ production worlds going, etc. After that all he did was consume-trade/produce (advanced 2P rules)... the only chance I had was to go for high VP settlements/developments (and I didn't even get great ones at that) and I got trounced. It almost felt like if we house ruled that the game can only end at 12 cards we'd enjoy the game more, hah!


Assuming that by cards you mean goods, you can't consume the same good with multiple consume powers. 8 chips per turn would come from 4 worlds at a minimum in the base set, and it would be 6 played cards if you had diversified economy (3 different types of goods -> 3 VP) and, uh... deficit spending?. (There's hardly anything that does 2 goods -> 1 VP, so maybe you mean cards in this case.) In that case, it's not 8 chips per turn if they're playing consume-trade.

I'm a bit worried at this point that you may have gotten the rules wrong, although that seems less likely if you played with the AI. Are you sure you have them right?
 
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Pete Goch
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Presumably he means the 1 card 2vp consume power (Galactic Trendsetters). That's what got him to 8. There are a two cards that will consume 3 goods for 1 vp ea in the base set Free Trade and Diversified Economy.
 
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TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
Presumably he means the 1 card 2vp consume power (Galactic Trendsetters). That's what got him to 8. There are a two cards that will consume 3 goods for 1 vp ea in the base set Free Trade and Diversified Economy.

That would actually get him to 10 (3*2 + 2*2). But it's not possible, as you need Galactic Trendsetters, 4 production worlds and Diversified Economy, for a total of 6 cards.


Edit: Technically there is one 2 good -> 1VP card, which is Pilgrimage World (consume n goods for n-1 VPs). But it would be even worse: 7 cards (5 production, PW, DE) needed.
 
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