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Subject: Engraver - too powerful? rss

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Ken Hill
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There was a thread about this earlier but it was before the game was released in English so I'm raising it again.

Normally, I don't complain about this kind of thing. I usually trust the designer and developers of the game to work out the balance issues. However, the Engraver (2 points per different class of card played) seems vastly overpowered when compared to other cards in the game. Looking at the other cards that cost 12, the powers pale in comparison.

We have played 4 games now and each game has been won by the player who played the Engraver. Last night's experience was typical, the Engraver was worth either 14 or 16 points in the end game. There are so many different varieties of cards in the game, it is difficult to not end up with a bunch of different class of cards.

You can earn big points from the canal building. But, canal building by itself doesn't earn points like recruiting new people does.

There are limited ways to stop a person in the game from playing the Engraver and accumulating a lot of personalities on their board. Yes, you can attack them but that is a very limited way to slow them down.

I'm open for suggestions but right now it seems like Engraver is just better than pretty much every other card in the game.

Ken
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Jeff Kayati
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Some discussion here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/958355/engraver-overpowe...
 
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Brian M
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I've only played Bruges twice so far (and enjoyed it a lot!), but the Engraver did seem incredibly good to us as well. It wasn't a decider in either game, but it sure contributed a LOT of points. In one game, the player who got it was solidly ahead anyway; in the other, it took a player from 3rd place to 1 point behind first place.

Quote:
In fairness all the 12 gilder cards are really powerful, that's why they cost so much and why there's so few of them. I look at it like this, there's so few of them, and you have to devote pretty much an entire 4 actions minimum getting them in play, and while all that is going on people are setting themselves up for a lot of other things while you are focusing on one.

Any personality requires a minimum of 2 actions, and most will take at least 3 (to get the cash). There's not that much more energy to get the Engraver than any other card. And because the Engraver is all end game scoring, you can play it at your leisure.

Last game I played, I was focusing big on canals. At the end of the game, I drew the 12 gilder card that allows you to use a worker to gain 1 VP per 3 canals (no idea what the name was). Woo hoo, powerful 12 gilder card, right? Except I would completely have preferred the Engraver.

I was very, very canal focused. I only had about 4 people, who were all different categories. The Engraver would have given me 8 points. To get that many points from the canal-focused 12 gilder character, I would need to put three red workers in over three turns. And then I'd have 9 points. If I'd had the engraver, I could have gotten an extra building for that one red worker + card to get two red works, so 3 turns later, I'd have the same score with the canal-scorer, who scores based on the strategy I had been focusing on all game and with the Engraver, who scores for an element of the game that I had basically ignored.

Now, true, if I'd gotten the canal-person 4 turns in advance of the end I could potentially have gotten more points...but then, I could also have gotten more people for the Engraver. And odds are I wouldn't have all the canals built that far in advance.
 
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Brian Preston
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I played Bruges 3 times at GenCon. I don't remember if the Engraver came out in the first 2 games, and I don't remember what the other 12 pt guys do, but in my 3rd game I got the Engraver and it was worth about 14 pts (in bonus points, not including his own pts). I had a lot of other good characters as well, so it might be an outlier. On the first turn I got a noble (Prince?) that gets 1 VP and 2 money with a worker every turn, which was a great/lucky start. I also got a Lawyer (I think) that gets a 3rd worker whenever you get workers, a Merchant-type that got me 2-3 money each turn for free, and another guy that got me 2 money each turn for a worker as well. So by the mid game I was getting 1 VP, 7 money, and an extra worker by spending 2 workers.
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Jeff Hannes
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I'm in the process of building an AI for Bruges (why?... why not?). I've come up with a statistical formula to evaluate the relative worth of the cards, and when played in the mid-game or end-game, the Engraver is by far the best card in the game -- a full order of magnitude better than its closest competitor.

Rough net point values for cards played in the middle of the game:
Average is 4.14, Engraver is 12.2.

Played at the end of the game, it's an even wider spread:
Average is 2.52, Engraver is 12.2.

There are, however, a few cards that score out higher when played in the first round... Loadmaster, Well Builder, Astronomer and Beggar (at full effect in a 4-player game). But the fact that Engraver is equally valuable no matter what round it's played in is really what makes it stand out above the rest, and there are very few other cards that can match its max point potential.

Also, the fact that it costs 12 is not a balancing factor, because strictly from a mathematical standpoint, the extra VP more than make up for the increased cost. So in general you're better off playing higher-cost persons anyway (person majority notwithstanding). The fact that it costs 12 and is worth 4 VP is just one more notch that makes it more powerful.

Perhaps one potential balancing factor is that among the colors, brown ranks the weakest (yellow and red are the strongest btw), so if you're fishing for the Engraver it could hurt your overall game. But I don't think the difference is great enough to prevent the Engraver from being exactly what the OP accused it of... OP (over-powered).
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Brian M
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Very interesting analysis Jeff!
 
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Jeff Hannes
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Though actually it occurs to me that the played-at-end-of-game value for the Engraver should be reduced, since you won't have planned on having as diverse an array of groups. But even reduced from 12.2 to 8.2, it's STILL better than almost every other card. So yeah... if you get Engraver, play it for your best chance at winning the game.

On the flip-side, if your opponent gets Engraver, you SHOULD be able to beat him or her out for person majority. Unless, of course, you're playing in a four-player game, and then you really don't have much control over it.
 
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Brian M
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Quote:
On the flip-side, if your opponent gets Engraver, you SHOULD be able to beat him or her out for person majority.

Can you elaborate on this? Why should you be able to get a majority more easily, unless you never take a high cost person?
 
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Dave Breen
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Not sure I agree that it is too powerful. I offer the following to support my claim.

played last night, and was able to play the Commander for 11 points (8+3 (8 from threats, 3 vp for the commander card).

I yielded 13 points from the Historian (4 scholars including the Historian + the jester.)


The Engraver is good, but not OP in my opinion.

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Jeff Hannes
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dbreen27 wrote:
Not sure I agree that it is too powerful. I offer the following to support my claim.

played last night, and was able to play the Commander for 8+3 points (8 from threats, 3 vp for the commander card).

Yielded 10 + 3 extra points from the Historian (4 scholars including the Historian + the jester.)

The Engraver is good, but not OP in my opinion.


Ah, but barring having the Apothecary, 11 total points out of the Commander is a close to a BEST-case scenario, and I'd say that 13 from the Historian (or any of the points per group) is also about as good as you can reliably hope for. But if you get the Engraver early, it's VERY easy to get 6-7 different groups, for a total of 16-18 points, and even 8-9 groups is feasible with the Jester or a person-heavy focus. Even at its worst you're probably going to get at least 4 different groups for 12 points, and that's STILL almost as many points as the Commander's max potential.

Responding to Brian's question... it's likely that in the time it takes your opponent to generate the 12 coin to play one person, you'll be able to play multiple persons, which would push you ahead for the majority. But then, there's no guarantee of that either, so yeah, Engraver is pretty tough to beat.
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Jeff Aaronson
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I've played this twice and found that the winner tended to focus on people that get more powerful when you have multiples of the same occupation, scoring 10-12 points for the matching person. The Engraver would have been worth only 4-6 points for these people.
 
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Brian M
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jaaronson wrote:
I've played this twice and found that the winner tended to focus on people that get more powerful when you have multiples of the same occupation, scoring 10-12 points for the matching person. The Engraver would have been worth only 4-6 points for these people.

You know, I started with two cards in my hand that benefited from Castle people last game. Never saw another Castle person all game.
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Josh Kaufman
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xanalor wrote:
Though actually it occurs to me that the played-at-end-of-game value for the Engraver should be reduced, since you won't have planned on having as diverse an array of groups. But even reduced from 12.2 to 8.2, it's STILL better than almost every other card. So yeah... if you get Engraver, play it for your best chance at winning the game.

On the flip-side, if your opponent gets Engraver, you SHOULD be able to beat him or her out for person majority. Unless, of course, you're playing in a four-player game, and then you really don't have much control over it.



As someone who generally goes for a people/house strategy and ignores canals and does reputation only when I have the luxury to do so, I generally have the most people out, whether or not I get the Engraver. I actually find most of the time when I play I put out people with different groups and find myself setup pretty good for the Engraver when I get it. This isn't necessarily intentional, just the luck of the cards.

While it can help if you get multiples of the same card for certain cards, I don't find it helps that much that you need to focus on a particular group. And don't seek to do that most of the time. In other words, I generally do fine with my people engines without focusing on a particular group.

The games I have gotten the Engraver, I usually get around 18 or 20 points. ( Because I am very seldom putting out the same character group that I find its not really worth it, unless I have an awesome card with a laurel in my hand and I'm already starting to go in that direction, which very seldom happens.

I actually think part of the issue with the Engraver is that there is too many groups, and because of that, its hard to stack up on a particular group. I think 12 points is a reasonable low to get for the Engaver, if you are investing somewhat in putting people down. Whereas other cards that reward specialization has a much lower lowpoint. So this is something that IMO wasn't thought out that well. In other words, I believe its easier to spread out the groups of your people than to focus on one group. So because of that a person that rewards variety should score less than a person that rewards specialization on average. Maybe one fix is to make the Engraver worth 1 point per group instead of 2. I'd still put it out there myself, if it was worth that. I haven't studied the other 12 cost cards to see if that might make it slightly underpowered or not, but that seems a reasonable compromise to me.
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Brian M
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hobbes27 wrote:
Maybe one fix is to make the Engraver worth 1 point per group instead of 2. I'd still put it out there myself, if it was worth that. I haven't studied the other 12 cost cards to see if that might make it slightly underpowered or not, but that seems a reasonable compromise to me.

We've contemplated making the Engraver 1 point per group as well. When we've seen the Engraver in play, it would usually still be worthwhile at 1 point per group, but not always the automatic choice that it is at 2 points per group.
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matt schmaltz
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After our first few games it was pretty obvious that the engraver was overly powerful. after side by side comparison with several of the other high point cards it was obvious he was far above the curve. Came on here just to make sure that it wasn't a misprint in translating from German to English. this card needs an errata, he is just mathematically not on the same page as any other card.
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Josh Kaufman
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Yeah. I had a bad game of Bruges last night and thought for sure I was going to lose because I wasn't getting any synergy with my people and they weren't doing much. Then I draw the Engraver near the end and eek out a 4 point victory in a game that I had no business winning.

In all the games I have played, the winner has had the Engraver card. When that is the case, there is something wrong with the card. Basically it has gotten to the point that when someone plays the Engraver card, people in my gaming group say "Okay XX is gonna win."
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Keyhunter

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Engraver 'defense' variant: The Engraver bonus is 2 points for each group in excess of the number of groups played by the nearest competitor. Example: Engraver player has 8 unique groups, and the nearest competitor has 5 unique groups; result is a 6 point bonus.
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Brian M
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longhunter wrote:
Engraver 'defense' variant: The Engraver bonus is 2 points for each group in excess of the number of groups played by the nearest competitor. Example: Engraver player has 8 unique groups, and the nearest competitor has 5 unique groups; result is a 6 point bonus.

That's an interesting idea, but it seems like in a 4 player game there are usually at least 2 players with lots of groups. I think that might spin things too far and make the Engraver too weak.
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Josh Kaufman
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StormKnight wrote:
longhunter wrote:
Engraver 'defense' variant: The Engraver bonus is 2 points for each group in excess of the number of groups played by the nearest competitor. Example: Engraver player has 8 unique groups, and the nearest competitor has 5 unique groups; result is a 6 point bonus.

That's an interesting idea, but it seems like in a 4 player game there are usually at least 2 players with lots of groups. I think that might spin things too far and make the Engraver too weak. :p


Yeah, that makes the card too weak. I think the best errata I have heard so far is just to make it 1 point/group. I know that for some of the games I was in, if someone had the Engraver, and it was 1 point/group, they would not have won. Which I think brings the card a little bit more in line with some of the other people that cost $12. And as I said earlier in the thread, it would be worth it for me to play the card, in general, even with it nerfed like that. If others would have to consider playing the card, rather than making it a no-brainer to save up and play for, then that is adequate enough of adjustment for me.
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James Clarke
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I fear that we may only have scratched the surface on this engraver issue.
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Brian M
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Highland Cow wrote:

I fear that we may only have scratched the surface on this engraver issue.


Booooooo!

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Keyhunter

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I had 10 groups using the Jester/Engraver combo. Even 1 point per group seems outsized to me. That's why I proposed the defense variant.
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Nico
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In the new episode from zuspieler.tv Stefan Feld also mentioned that the Engraver seems to be to powerfull and that they will maybe change the card in the next version of Bruges.
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Josh Kaufman
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ZdadrDeM wrote:
In the new episode from zuspieler.tv Stefan Feld also mentioned that the Engraver seems to be to powerfull and that they will maybe change the card in the next version of Bruges.


Did he give any idea how to adjust the card? Or are we just going to have to wait for the errata on the card? Which might be awhile. I guess if there is no errata, I might just suggest to make it 1 point per group, for the people I play with.
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Nico
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hobbes27 wrote:
ZdadrDeM wrote:
In the new episode from zuspieler.tv Stefan Feld also mentioned that the Engraver seems to be to powerfull and that they will maybe change the card in the next version of Bruges.


Did he give any idea how to adjust the card? Or are we just going to have to wait for the errata on the card? Which might be awhile. I guess if there is no errata, I might just suggest to make it 1 point per group, for the people I play with.


This is the video (german only): http://zuspieler.de/ganz-schoen-komplex/
He just said that they realized that the Engraver is too powerfull and that they wanted to make it much more expensive but they didn't do it (maybe they forgot it). They want to change the card in the next edition.
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