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Author Topic: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?  (Read 7100 times)

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timchen

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Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« on: September 04, 2015, 10:17:06 am »
0

Haven't played IRL for a while. I suddenly realize that it is because to play with casual friends, this game takes some serious time to setup, yet it is pretty easy to for them to screw themselves by buying random things, especially too many terminal actions.

Here's some simple thought: what if the game does not punish as severely too many actions in your deck? Does the game become more interesting or not?

Two ways I come up with:
1. every turn start with 2 actions.
2. At the start of your buy phase, you may set aside action cards from your hand, whenever you set aside a card, draw a card from your deck.
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Mic Qsenoch

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2015, 10:31:16 am »
+6

If the problem is disparity between bad players and good players, this is only going to exaggerate that. Good players will be able to exploit the new rules to do way more than any player who just happens to be buying too many terminals.

I mean, being able to play both of my Bureaucrats isn't really going to help me much.
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SCSN

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2015, 10:37:30 am »
+12

Do you know whether they are actually bothered by their terminals colliding and by "screwing themselves by buying random things"? Because when I started out I never once thought "damn, terminal collision", but always "yes, options!", and I liked buying lots of different stuff to find out what it did.
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timchen

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2015, 11:17:32 am »
0

It's more from my own perspective though. They may be enjoying it, but I am not as much.

@Mic Qsenoch: I don't think it is obvious why it is going to exaggerate the difference. For example if you play base, now you certainly won't be able to play big money-smithy and win. And while play both your bureaucrats probably won't help you all that much, playing one and a smithy will. Also you probably are an expert if you buy two bureaucrats early. Most of the novice I see tend to buy different cards.
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popsofctown

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2015, 11:22:42 am »
+3

It'd be interesting to design a new deckbuilder where 5$ terminals that didn't collide properly could always be played as a Silver.  Mage Knights has a system that is a good deal like that, and I love it. 


I think playing designed kingdoms is a better idea than using a dominion variant in your case though.  Try playing with Fishing Village a lot.  Terminals so very rarely slam collide dead in a Fishing Village environment.

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Also you probably are an expert if you buy two bureaucrats early.

Witherweaver

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2015, 11:23:08 am »
+1

If the problem is disparity between bad players and good players, this is only going to exaggerate that. Good players will be able to exploit the new rules to do way more than any player who just happens to be buying too many terminals.

I mean, being able to play both of my Bureaucrats isn't really going to help me much.

It's the most powerful card in the game.. if you could play two of them, it would be like twice the power.
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popsofctown

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2015, 11:24:18 am »
+3

Also you probably are an expert if you buy two bureaucrats early.

Can I sig this?
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Also you probably are an expert if you buy two bureaucrats early.

Mic Qsenoch

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2015, 11:39:27 am »
+4

@Mic Qsenoch: I don't think it is obvious why it is going to exaggerate the difference. For example if you play base, now you certainly won't be able to play big money-smithy and win. And while play both your bureaucrats probably won't help you all that much, playing one and a smithy will. Also you probably are an expert if you buy two bureaucrats early. Most of the novice I see tend to buy different cards.

I believe that anything which adds more options/complexity will help strong players out more than bad players, and both your suggestions do that. I do think this is obvious.

The Bureaucrat thing was just a joke, you can replace it with any two random terminals (they can even be different). If the new players are just buying terminals randomly their decks are going to be even worse against a deck which is buying terminals purposefully and gets to start with +2 actions.
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drsteelhammer

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2015, 12:11:30 pm »
0

You have two different players:

An inexerienced player who buys random terminals and one good player who buys cards a bit closer to the optimal way of playing. What he does is obviously more effective and makes more of his cards when he can play them more frequently. That means he is more efficient.

Now you give both players more rescources and you really think this comes close to benefitting the new player? Obviously not.

If I were to 100games against Mic, my best bets are the weak boards where both can only play 1 terminal+bm because that comes close to a coin flip. If I were to play with your first suggested rule, I'd definitely lose more.
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markusin

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2015, 12:51:48 pm »
+1

With 2 actions per turn, stuff like discard + Masquerade/Torturer/Council Room or Cultist chain + terminal will always be possible. Heck, the stronger players will just get more Junkers than usual and crush poor newbies. 1 action per turn limits the potential that players have and I can only see that benefiting newer players.

I think it's better to include villages the first few games. Either they over-terminal and see the value of villages, or they go village idiot and realise they haven't done anything notable with them. Of course you can just warn them about having too many terminals and village idiocy.

My experience with too many terminals early on is similar to SCSN's. I'd get the feeling of having options, while simultaneously getting a sense of the relative value of the cards. I'd think, "Hey, I almost never feel like playing Thief/Chancellor over these other cards. Maybe I should avoid getting them in the first place next time".
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SCSN

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2015, 01:03:17 pm »
+2

It's more from my own perspective though. They may be enjoying it, but I am not as much.

So you'd like more of a challenge for yourself? In that case I'd just handicap myself rather than change the rules for everyone. The specific handicap you pick should change per board because the same thing can be trivial on one yet impossible on another. E.g. you could go for "every VP I score only counts as 0.6VP", which would be really really tough on a board where BM-Smithy is the best strategy, yet laughably easy on a board with Worker's Village, Junk Dealer, Watchtower and Goons.

Other stuff you could consider are starting with 5 Curses instead of 3 Estates, getting -1VP (or more) per turn you take, all cards being $1 more expensive for you, etc. Just looking at the board and trying to think up a cool challenge for yourself should already add some excitement.
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LastFootnote

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2015, 02:55:58 pm »
+9

Rather than changing your scoring or you starting deck, I would suggest creating challenges for yourself that are invisible to other players. For instance, pick a Kingdom card that you think is going to be the key card in this game, then try to win without gaining it.
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timchen

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2015, 05:07:07 am »
+1

@pops: you can sig anything you want. :P

@SCSN: it is not that complicated. Maybe it is a subjective thing? Playing with casual friends, I also just want to enjoy the game in a casual way. Usually the way to casually enjoy the game for me is to play loosely and not worry as much who's going to win (while not letting my opponents know.) But the game becomes very boring if I play a big-money-ish loose deck without really counting how many treasure or terminals or VPs I have and I still win because my friends all screw up their deck.

@MicQ: yeah maybe, at the greatest scale of things, the skill differentiation is larger. That is, the player with the highest skill can obtain the highest win percentage vs. some refenence skill player. But I guess I am more interested in the win ratio between some moderate-ish play and mediocre. In this case I think for a lot of boards with 2 starting actions the win ratio will get closer.
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UmbrageOfSnow

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2015, 12:26:24 pm »
0

I am a very mediocre Dominion player and I agree with the big dogs, I think that change would increase rather than decrease the difference in winning chances among my real life friends.

But the suggestion about making up a sub-optimal goal is a good one, I've found that to be the most fun way to handicap a lot of board games and Dominion is absolutely rife with potential for worse-but-still-feasible strategies.  Don't play Big Money, play the dumbest engine you can think of.

I also think the using designed kingdoms suggestion is a good one: something we do is I design the first kingdom we use, then we swap out 2 or so cards each game, either whatever got bought the most/least or players' choice.

Why do you think bonus actions will make the win ratio closer?
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gamesou

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2015, 12:48:00 pm »
+12

If the goal is to give beginners more chances to win, I suggest setting the number of free Actions to 0 instead of 2.
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JacquesTheBard

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2015, 02:37:49 pm »
0

This is an interesting conversation, but I find IRL that when I offer boosts to beginners or volunteer to take a handicap, they often refuse it. Maybe that's because so many of the players are used to board gaming in general or feel they can pick it up. Maybe they don't feel that competitive, or suspect that they might still lose and don't want the embarrassment of losing to a handicapped player. Maybe the best option is just to nerf yourself without telling anyone.
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markusin

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2015, 02:37:54 pm »
+11

If the goal is to give beginners more chances to win, I suggest setting the number of free Actions to 0 instead of 2.
Coin of the Realm engine woo!
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Hertz_Doughnut

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2015, 02:50:51 pm »
+1

With brand new players, my first game is just treasures and vp cards. This teaches the flow of the game (actions, buy, clean up) and the importance of using money to get to the province level.

Once this game is "boring", we add smithy. Some people avoid him altogether, others over-buy, but it's important that the game doesn't present too many options so that our friends are overloaded with "analysis paralysis".  Hopefully, some will pick up on the idea that there's a "sweet spot" of just the right # of Smithys.  Next, add Militia and Laboratory.  After that they're probably ready for a 10-card kingdom.

Point being, these practice kingdom games go really quickly,  show the fundamentals of the rules, AND basic dominion strategy.

Then with the 10-card kingdom, I personally always play Basic Big Money (i.e. only buy normal treasures and VPs) until my friends can consistently beat it.  They will figure out that they are over-buying actions once they realize they keep losing to a guy who doesn't buy any.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2015, 02:52:06 pm by Hertz_Doughnut »
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markusin

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2015, 03:29:46 pm »
+1

With brand new players, my first game is just treasures and vp cards. This teaches the flow of the game (actions, buy, clean up) and the importance of using money to get to the province level.

Once this game is "boring", we add smithy. Some people avoid him altogether, others over-buy, but it's important that the game doesn't present too many options so that our friends are overloaded with "analysis paralysis".  Hopefully, some will pick up on the idea that there's a "sweet spot" of just the right # of Smithys.  Next, add Militia and Laboratory.  After that they're probably ready for a 10-card kingdom.

Point being, these practice kingdom games go really quickly,  show the fundamentals of the rules, AND basic dominion strategy.

Then with the 10-card kingdom, I personally always play Basic Big Money (i.e. only buy normal treasures and VPs) until my friends can consistently beat it.  They will figure out that they are over-buying actions once they realize they keep losing to a guy who doesn't buy any.

As far as showing the fundamentals of the rules, I like including the 3-card kingdom of Village, Smithy, and Market. Sure Smithy + Big Money might be the most optimal, but these cards show how the basic rules for how vanilla bonuses affect your turn. They also serve as a reminder of the rules. Surely +Buy and +Action wouldn't have meaning unless you had a limited number of buys and actions, right?

In my experience, Market is pretty satisfying for new players when they can play Market then Smithy and then use their big cash to buy two things like a Market and a Silver or something.
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Donald X.

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2015, 04:00:14 am »
+16

With brand new players, my first game is just treasures and vp cards. This teaches the flow of the game (actions, buy, clean up) and the importance of using money to get to the province level.
With brand new players, I have always played the actual game, the actual game that the game is, with a full 10 kingdom cards. That way they get to play the actual game. Furthermore, I have always included whatever cards I was playtesting; no time to lose. Here are the rules, now here are a few extra rules for this expansion. I have made minor concessions towards first-timers, mostly just, not using the very wordiest or trickiest cards in game one.

This has all worked out; I have never failed to teach the game. New players automatically simplify things for themselves by not reading the cards they can't afford, by buying a card after reading it without reading the alternatives.

It's straightforward to explain, as these things come up, that it's bad to buy too many terminals, that they don't want Estate turn one, and so on. They come in last that first game but they were expecting to. The game is still fun.

The game is not hard to teach. There are not many rules. I explain the turn sequence and win condition, what that adds up to overall, I explain the +'s and gain/trash and any expansion mechanics, then I go back and tell them the turn sequence again because it just takes no time.

I always teach the actual game for my other games too. When I teach Nefarious, it's with two Twists and the expansion. If a Twist seemed too much to ask of new players, it's not in the main game.

If a game is too hard for new players it's in trouble, because a lot of people will encounter it in a situation with nothing but new players. Dominion has obv. passed that hurdle.
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Awaclus

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2015, 04:11:49 am »
+2

The last time I taught someone Dominion, I cherry picked two kingdoms with pretty complex best strategies (one was a Horn of Plenty engine, the other one was not an engine but I forgot what it was), went for both of them, and won both games. The guy was clearly intrigued by the game, but didn't want to play more of it with me for some reason.

Hertz_Doughnut

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2015, 10:36:28 am »
+2

With brand new players, I have always played the actual game, the actual game that the game is, with a full 10 kingdom cards. That way they get to play the actual game.

Just curious, do you play your hardest, then, too? Or something like my Basic Big Money strategy?

I'm my experience, here are the things that scare a person off of a game:
1) A feeling that the game is too complicated / that they would have to invest too much time to learn (why I've had trouble getting friends to adopt Twilight Struggle and Napoleon's Triumph)
2) A feeling that there is an insurmountable talent/money gap (e.g. if a grandmaster taught you how to play chess, or if you learned Magic with a rich kid who bought the ultra-rare best cards and bragged about their price)
3) A feeling that the game just takes too long (Napoleon's Triumph, Twilight Struggle, Agricola)

For those reasons, I've had better luck with my approach. In the first No Actions kingdom, they find that the game is simple and quick. They always ask how much it cost me to buy all the cards, but they can see that the game itself is democratic... we both can play with Platinum, even though I physically own the Platinums. (It's not like that in many games, consider Magic cards and golf clubs.)


I suppose it also matters who's playing. If your friends are boardgamegeek regulars, that's different from trying to teach a pair of 5-year-olds or old men whose idea of a card game is Pinnochle.

Also in effect, Donald, your name is on the box. People are more generous with their time when playing my original games, just because they personally know me. They feel like they're helping me, giving me suggestions, rooting for it to become a hit, etc.

When I've used your method with Dominion, most people aren't interested in playing a 2nd game. That's why I bothered to come up with my method.  And, empirically, it works.  After a few months, I begged a couple players to try Dominion again, who preiously had a bad taste in their mouth from their original session. We used my method.  Now they like it.

Kind regards,
David
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Donald X.

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2015, 01:51:34 pm »
+6

Just curious, do you play your hardest, then, too? Or something like my Basic Big Money strategy?
I basically never do either of those things, except in the online version. I am too interested in having fun and getting testing done. I am always trying my hardest to win, but it's given the constraint of either testing whatever thing needs testing, or pursuing a strategy that looks fun.

I suppose it also matters who's playing. If your friends are boardgamegeek regulars, that's different from trying to teach a pair of 5-year-olds or old men whose idea of a card game is Pinnochle.
I have taught a significant range of people. They are rarely friends; my friends also learn my games, but you know, just once each, which is a small fraction of the learning going on.

Also in effect, Donald, your name is on the box. People are more generous with their time when playing my original games, just because they personally know me. They feel like they're helping me, giving me suggestions, rooting for it to become a hit, etc.
Those are unrelated things, unless you're telling me that your name is on some boxes. In my experience, from people I've known for years to people I've just met that evening, anyone not having fun is out of there so fast.

When I've used your method with Dominion, most people aren't interested in playing a 2nd game.
Again Dominion has to be learnable by a group of people that do not know the game, zero experienced players, no hand-holding from anyone. The rulebook says how to play and all it gives new players is, here's the 10 to use for your first game. And despite the rulebook's lack of anything easier, Dominion passed this test over and over in the real world, endless new people learned it and enjoyed it, with 10 cards in game one. If your experience is different, well. There's a much bigger pile of evidence to the contrary. You move me not. There are things I would change about the main set if doing it today, but for sure not your awful suggestion of, game one there's no game.
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theJester

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2015, 02:34:09 pm »
+6

@Hertz

Having played dozens of various tabletop games, I don't think this would ever be the good approach if I wanted to attract noobies to any of them. When playing a new game, I have to immediately get (during the course of one game) why is this particular game good and interesting, why this particular game would attract me. If the game is bad or boring, I'd just abandon it and play a different game, the one I know is fun. And I genuinely can't think of many things less boring than playing Dominion with just treasures and VP cards.

My experience complies with that. A few months ago, for example, I played 3-player game with two guys who just learned Dominion two games ago. After my engine won me the game, two guys were intrigued. They even said So that's one way how to play a game and looked genuinely interested. If I, on the other hand, insisted of playing the board with just e.g. Village, Smithy and Militia, I don't doubt they wouldn't be nearly as hooked up. Same applies for me as well - what drew me to Dominion was seeing stronger players using interesting cards, combos and interactions, not painstakingly learning one or two new cards at a time.

All of that is true for other games, as well. Beginners will e.g. learn to love chess because they are shown how exciting and interesting the game can be; not because someone told them: The first few games we'll play only with king and pawns.


@OP

Not much to add to what others have already said here. If your fellow players face too many terminal collisions, the solution is to improve their game (buy less terminals/more villages), not change the fundamental rule.
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Hertz_Doughnut

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Re: Eliminating the obvious self-destruct aspect of game?
« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2015, 07:31:18 pm »
+7

You move me not. There are things I would change about the main set if doing it today, but for sure not your awful suggestion of, game one there's no game.

Well, I don't know what to say.  I was posting my thoughts to an OP that sounded like the kind of thing I had run into with new players.  So I gave him a "Here, try this.  It worked for me."  My suggestions were not warmly welcomed.

Here's my perspective.  If you want someone to buy a car, you first get them to take a test drive.  That's what the no-action kingdom is.  Nobody considers it a real game, nobody takes it competitively.  It's just a quick exercise of how the flow of the turn and game goes.  After a couple Provinces are bought, they see the gist, and then you add Smithy.  The whole thing goes very quickly.

I agree that not everyone needs this kind of start, but it worked for me, when introducing the game to my wife, my dad, my uncle, my brother-in-law, and my son.  All of said people would be in your "out of there so fast" category... that apparently you are fine leaving be.  I'd rather play Dominion than Pinochle at family gatherings, so I dumbed down the game a bit to make it more accessible.  And it worked.  And I'm catching heck for it.

Life is strange.
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