The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Following Up …

Regarding Qwirkle … it may have one more level of expertise than I thought. You can set up plays to block Qwirkles (“Bingos” in scrabble, earning a bonus for long plays) and tile tracking plays a role, but as it is (to my mind) a filler I doubt I’ll ever make the effort during play to do much beyond score as many points as possible.

Our second game of small world had a high variance between scores, so that’s good. I still feel that the same criticism of Vinci (you just pound on the leader) is still there in Small World (you just pound on the perceived leader). In a strong group, the difference diminishes. To whit, in this game I lost 6 provinces to Berserking Ratmen (Aaiiiee) on the final turn, and lost by … 2 points. So, kudos on proper assessment of the leader board to all involved. I like that this is smaller and faster, but think its a bit too small. I’d like a few more races/abilities. I’d like a game to have maybe 3-4 civs per player. Also, you definitely want a starting auction for player order, I think. There are some brutal combinations and many mediocre ones.

Finally played a four player Le Havre. I liked the new buildings (The arts center and storehouse) that aren’t used in the 2-3 player games. I keep seeing arguments about how there are multiple loan paths to victory, and all I can say is that I’ve yet to encounter it. Yeterdays game had me get up to 8 loans quickly, take a ninth loan reluctantly (and get mildly hosed because an entry fee kept me from getting a 10th loan when I really wanted it), and then earn ~90 Florins from two shipments (mainly Coke and steel) to pay everything off. I think I need to emphasize to new players that you want to build powerful buildings, valuable goods and ships, and feeding your people is definitely your lowest priority. I’m ready for more variability …. in addition to buildings, maybe a mini-deck of “How the world works” cards that change a rule (before setup). Off the top of my head — roll a d6:

  1. Urban Renaissance — Flip up two special buildings at the start of the game.
  2. Poor Urban Planning — Deal the buildings into three piles as normal, but only partially sort. Make sure that buildings 1-10 are first, 11-20 and next, and 21-30 are last, but do not sort inside those groups.
  3. Credit Crunch — At the start of the game, roll a d6 and set it on the loan number. Any loan taken beyond that only provides 3 Fl instead of 4 Fl.
  4. Credit Crisis — Interest payments equal 1/2 the number of loans you have, rounded up. [Perhaps this should be 1/3rd].
  5. Dark Ages — After dealing out the standard buildings, randomly remove one building from the middle stack. It just won’t be built. [Do not remove Brickworks, but anything else is fair game]
  6. Financing Burden — Any player with 2+ loans is considered to have one less “(Marketplace triggering building)” symbol. Any player with 4+ loans is considered to have one less “Fishing” symbol. Any player with 6+ loans is considered to have one less “Hammer” symbol. These effects are cumulative. [Numbers may not go negative].

You get the idea. Just tweak a base rule for some variability. Obviously hitting loans is an easy idea.

I’m also ready to tweak a few buildings:

  • Cokery — No money for conversion.
  • Tannery — Increase limit to 8.
  • Brickworks — No reprocessing brick to brick.

(The cokery is my effective fix to the colliery, as well). I think this is justified because Coke ships for huge amounts and triples your energy. Getting 20 Coal, converting to Coke, and shipping 18 of it (using 2 to pay costs) still gets you 90 Fl, down from 110 Fl. But if you’d only shipped 9 of it, you’d get 45 Fl, down from 65 Fl.

I increase the Tannery because converting Hides to Leather doesn’t give you food (like the Smokehouse or Bakery), all it does is give you a shippable good. This way you can get enough leather to support 2-3 ships at once.

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Written by taogaming

May 24, 2009 at 11:42 am

Posted in Ramblings

Tagged with ,

8 Responses

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  1. In Vinci, I felt that the first player had all the advantages, so I liked giving the last players the option of which of the initial civs to choose. In the fixed length and shorter Small World, the last players can make up for their late entry onto the board by the fact that they don’t have to worry about spreading themselves too thin on the last turn, so this may balance things out. So, as you suggest, a starting turn auction (to deal with the imbalance of the initial civs) is probably best.

    In theory, the best way to do this would be a Tikal-style auction, where the first auction determines the first player, then the remaining players hold a separate auction to determine the second player, and so on. There are ways of combining this, but they have problems, so given that this is a one-off event, this is probably the optimal way of doing things. On the other hand, given that there is only a -1 VP penalty per civ for going down the queue, this might be overkill. It also might only be necessary to determine the first couple of players, after which things start to stabilize. I won’t know until I play more.

    By the way, I would give the winner of the auction the right to choose a civ or pass. The option to do this then goes to the second player, who does the same. This continues until one player chooses a civ, or until it reaches the last player, who must choose a civ. The option then reverts to the player highest in the turn order who still hasn’t selected and the process continues until everyone has their first civ. Sometimes, the best civs are near the bottom of the queue, so this gives the winner of the auction their best value for their bid. In Vinci, I also liked to expose a few extra civs, so that players knew what was coming up. Again, in Small World, some of this may be overkill, but that would be my thinking for now.

    Larry Levy

    May 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm

  2. I simply made the rule that you don’t need to pay for your civ on the first turn. The first player still gets an edge as they get to choose from 5 civs, but the other players still have a decent selection, and the chance for a unique chance at a great opening civ. I do have the bank pay the VPs for skipping over civs, to keep the inducement for weaker combos.

    This, plus Larry’s observations about the late game advantages of going later in the turn order, leads to a balanced game (IMO).

    Lou

    May 24, 2009 at 3:23 pm

  3. I’m going to try your tweaks. The first and third probably. I’m not sure yet about the second. Thanks for suggesting them.

    jacob

    May 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

  4. I’m going to try your tweaks. The first and third probably. I’m not sure yet about the second. Thanks for suggesting them.

    jacob

    May 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

  5. Nice ideas for Le Havre. My brightest idea so far is to just reduce the shipping value of Coke to 3f (for 1p and 2p games), or 4f (for 3+p games).

    It’s funny that LH has such a huge list of playtesters, and was apparently in the pipeline for a long time, and yet the final product feels a bit unpolished. Of course, any game like this lends itself to second-guessing on costs and effects, so I’m not sure how much is a real problem and how much is just Rosenberg designing a perfectly working game, but I wasn’t the audience.

    Jon Waddington

    May 26, 2009 at 10:22 am

  6. Nice ideas for Le Havre. My brightest idea so far is to just reduce the shipping value of Coke to 3f (for 1p and 2p games), or 4f (for 3+p games).

    It’s funny that LH has such a huge list of playtesters, and was apparently in the pipeline for a long time, and yet the final product feels a bit unpolished. Of course, any game like this lends itself to second-guessing on costs and effects, so I’m not sure how much is a real problem and how much is just Rosenberg designing a perfectly working game, but I wasn’t the audience.

    Jon Waddington

    May 26, 2009 at 10:22 am

  7. Small World: Yes, to be truly balanced, you should auction start position. I think a Vegas Showdown style (multiple simultaneous auctions, each person winning one) would be the way to go. Its kindof annoying when you do it the other way (one at a time), and then the first person wins for 3, and then people get more and more worried about being stuck with a particularly crappy position, so 2nd goes for like 5. If they had known that was going to happen they wouldve bid more for 1st and less for 2nd. DOing them all at once, you can see this coming.

    Le Havre: Cokery not giving money and Tannery limit increased are pretty important, I think. (Not sure about the brick thing, not experienced with it).
    I think the unfortunately thing about the game is that food is so irrelevant, even being a disadvantage sometimes if it prevents you from taking loans. And that loans are good to take in large quantities, there is no disadvantage for taking more and more of them.

    Agricola is difficult and tense because of the need to feed your people. Le Havre isnt, because you dont even want to feed all your people. Food is just a distraction that is hiding from beginners what they should be working on.

    Alexfrog

    May 26, 2009 at 12:49 pm

  8. You’re right, Alex, an Evo-style auction to determine turn order is probably the best solution. If you do it like this, you could probably even dispense with the option to let another player go first that I outlined, since you know exactly what you’re bidding for at any moment. This could lead to a peculiar situation where I’m willing to pay more to go third than to go first (because the most powerful civs are far down in the queue), but that shouldn’t be a problem.

    Larry Levy

    May 26, 2009 at 2:39 pm

  9. You’re right, Alex, an Evo-style auction to determine turn order is probably the best solution. If you do it like this, you could probably even dispense with the option to let another player go first that I outlined, since you know exactly what you’re bidding for at any moment. This could lead to a peculiar situation where I’m willing to pay more to go third than to go first (because the most powerful civs are far down in the queue), but that shouldn’t be a problem.

    Larry Levy

    May 26, 2009 at 2:39 pm


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