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Author Topic: The Fool is a pity  (Read 5123 times)

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crj

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The Fool is a pity
« on: December 18, 2017, 10:23:25 pm »
+4

Nocturne has arrived in the UK. I got my copy last week, and took it along to play with friends this evening.

Often, I just pull out whichever cards seem cool, but not really knowing how the cogs would turn with Nocturne, I started with the first recommended kingdom in the rulebook.

The (four-player) game took two hours! )-8

The chief culprit was Fool. Once one player bought a Fool, another did; once two had done so, the other two did as well. And we were seeing those Fools pretty often!

Every time somebody plays Fool, they need to take Lost in the Woods, take three Boons, digest what they are, choose an order, receive them, keep track of which should be discarded at once v. which should be kept until Clean-up, and finally re-evaluate their strategy for the turn.

For added fun, sooner or later somebody takes the Earth's Gift and decides they would have preferred a different Boon. So in the middle of resolving Fool, they gain a Blessed Village. And try to work out whether to receive that Boon at once, or keep it until next turn. And then figure out how to represent in terms of table layout which Boons they've not yet received, which are being held until clean-up, and which are being held to receive at the start of next turn.

Meanwhile, with Fool in the kingdom, the Boons deck needs shuffling very frequently and every time that happens people need to stop and double-check the correct subset of the Boons has been discarded.

People also struggled, albeit to a lesser extent, with the inconsistency where some Night cards are gained to hand and others are not. And most of the players both in that game and a subsequent one where I picked the kingdom myself to go light on the Boons felt pretty strongly that Night was an unnecessary complication compared with Actions that had +1 Action and a deferred effect. Especially, they seemed to destroy the rhythm of the game because you can no longer begin playing as soon as the previous player has made their final purchase. A lot of turns had false starts, further adding to the confusion.

None of us found it our most enjoyable game of Dominion ever. Some of the players are soured to Nocturne entirely; most are at least vowing never to play another game with Fool.


This is somewhat startling and dispiriting. I assume that if playtesters had had this experience something would have been done about it, so why were things different for us. We're all experienced gamers, not especially slow, and everyone was already at least somewhat familiar with Dominion.

I'd be really interested to hear anyone else's experiences. /-8
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William Howard Taft

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2017, 12:01:58 am »
0

I had the same thing happen when I first bought the game. All the cards were new to us and everyone bought and played Fool constantly, making the game last forever.

Since we've gotten used to the cards we don't seem to buy Fool nearly as often, and when we do turns go much faster because we're used to all the Boons and can more quickly decide the best order to receive them.
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markusin

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2017, 12:10:23 am »
+2

The fact that the card's name is "Fool" makes it so wink-wink-nudge-nudge when it wrecks a game like that.

I honestly didn't think about the dynamic where Night cards make it so it is not so easy for the next player to spring off their turn from another player after the buy phase. Definitely when I play in person there is that rhythm where the next player is ready to begin their turn at around the buy phase of the preceding player.
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LastFootnote

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2017, 12:31:12 am »
+3

Its my fault. Im sorry.

Just to make sure, though, you are aware that if you already have Lost in the Woods and you play Fool, nothing happens. You only get the Boons if you took the State from somebody else. Weve had long Fool games in testing, but 2 hours is nuts.
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GendoIkari

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2017, 12:48:18 am »
+1

Trying to figure out how Fool would play out in a game if only one player buys one. The card basically becomes a Curse in your hand, though you have something like a Princed weak card from then on. Maybe nice if you have trashing to easily get rid of the Fool; but otherwise it seems like it would just feel like self-junking.
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crj

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2017, 02:00:51 am »
+1

Just to make sure, though, you are aware that if you already have Lost in the Woods and you play Fool, nothing happens.
Oh, indeed. But I think once the Fools started flying (after the second shuffle) a player only started their turn Lost In The Woods twice in the remainder of the game. With three other players, it was pretty likely one of them would have drawn their Fool each round.
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Cave-o-sapien

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2017, 02:18:10 am »
+1

Something like this seems to happen with my play group whenever we play a new expansion: "Ooh, new cards, I must try them all! ... Now what do they do, again?"
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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2017, 03:21:33 am »
+2

You haven't seen my then 11yo son and his three friends playing kingdoms with mandatory King's Courts and Possessions. They managed to play Possessions from their possessed opponent's hand, finally going full circle playing their own hand, still managing to keep track. Two-hour-games were not unheard of before Fool.
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Aleimon Thimble

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2017, 03:27:50 am »
+2

A better option would be to just not play with 4 players. ;)

Everybody knows 4-player Dominion is kind of.. meh. Dominion is balanced for two players.
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Accatitippi

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2017, 03:48:35 am »
0

I haven't played nocturne irl, but I can see it being extra-heavy to get used to in a nocturne-heavy game.
It does add more new mechanics than any other expansion.
So maybe try to dilute it a bit?

Also, Fool is probably weaker than you think, so the game could have been faster with less fool-ish players ;)
It reminds me of the awfully long tribute wannabe-engine games that we imposed on ourselves back when intrigue was new.
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Awaclus

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2017, 04:02:25 am »
+3

They managed to play Possessions from their possessed opponent's hand, finally going full circle playing their own hand

That's not how it works though. Possession only lets you control the actions of the player to your left until the end of that turn; if you make someone play a Possession while you're possessing them, that Possession turn takes place after the turn has ended, which means you don't get to control that player anymore. In other words, if you make your opponent play a Possession, you're just helping them out by giving them a free Possession turn.
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Donald X.

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2017, 04:18:41 am »
+11

And most of the players both in that game and a subsequent one where I picked the kingdom myself to go light on the Boons felt pretty strongly that Night was an unnecessary complication compared with Actions that had +1 Action and a deferred effect.
I don't agree at all here; I think Night is clearly the simplest way to do those effects (not the ones that didn't have to be Night cards, like Cobbler, but you know, the other ones, like Monastery). Delaying effects is more complex and causes mistakes. And it's not like other players would remember you had that Monastery effect or whatever coming; they'd still be starting their turn.

I have seen people start their turn and have the previous player say, wait, there's more. I also see that with e.g. Smithy though. He's shuffling, his turn must be done. I never felt like there was a problem for the cards to solve here.

I'd be really interested to hear anyone else's experiences. /-8
As you can see in the secret history, I struggled to make sure that Fool did not slow games down too much, after having bad experiences with it. I blamed those games on the ability to Throne Room it, and as you can see that's no longer possible; you can't even play a Village and then two of them. However your experience suggests that the real problem is just, getting three Boons when you're new enough to the expansion that the Boons don't come automatically. The Boons themselves struggle to be simple and not slow things down even for new-to-the-set players. Three at once and ordering them is a bunch of that though.

So I mean, I think you simply experienced an actual problem; Fool is too slow when you're not used to the Boons. Everyone starts out not used to them, so it's too slow period. It's a bummer that it's in the first recommended set. We had the problem but it always seemed to be repeated plays in one turn that were the problem.

The Hexes are also too slow for new-to-the-set players. There, the effects aren't simple, so even with one, you have to stop and understand what it's saying. And a few even manage to say, "continued on next card." And of course being attacks means they slow things down further for that reason; they compound the problem. I am pretty happy with the Night cards and Heirlooms and Spirits and such. I think it was reasonable to do most of the Fate cards.

I'd like to think I've learned something. As Jack Handey says, "If you're a horse, and someone gets on you, and falls off, and then gets right back on you, I think you should buck him off right away."
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Donald X.

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2017, 04:19:51 am »
+6

A better option would be to just not play with 4 players. ;)

Everybody knows 4-player Dominion is kind of.. meh. Dominion is balanced for two players.
I have endlessly played with 4. Dominion tries to be balanced for 2-4.
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Aleimon Thimble

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2017, 05:11:52 am »
0

A better option would be to just not play with 4 players. ;)

Everybody knows 4-player Dominion is kind of.. meh. Dominion is balanced for two players.
I have endlessly played with 4. Dominion tries to be balanced for 2-4.

I acknowledge the fact that it tries to be balanced for 2-4. It just doesn't always succeed. Why do you reckon the 2-player option is the standard for competitive play?

It's cute that it's possible to play with 3 or 4 players, especially for casual players. But it just doesn't work nearly as well.

By the way, this is not meant as a criticism towards Dominion in general, because I still think it's the second best 2-player board/card game in the world (after chess).
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Awaclus

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2017, 05:14:46 am »
+2

A better option would be to just not play with 4 players. ;)

Everybody knows 4-player Dominion is kind of.. meh. Dominion is balanced for two players.
I have endlessly played with 4. Dominion tries to be balanced for 2-4.

I acknowledge the fact that it tries to be balanced for 2-4. It just doesn't always succeed. Why do you reckon the 2-player option is the standard for competitive play?

It's cute that it's possible to play with 3 or 4 players, especially for casual players. But it just doesn't work nearly as well.

By the way, this is not meant as a criticism towards Dominion in general, because I still think it's the second best 2-player board/card game in the world (after chess).

It's better than chess.
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Aleimon Thimble

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2017, 05:16:14 am »
+1

It's better than chess.

To be fair, it's difficult to compare. But chess is pretty amazing.
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Donald X.

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2017, 05:23:35 am »
+5

I acknowledge the fact that it tries to be balanced for 2-4. It just doesn't always succeed. Why do you reckon the 2-player option is the standard for competitive play?

It's cute that it's possible to play with 3 or 4 players, especially for casual players. But it just doesn't work nearly as well.

By the way, this is not meant as a criticism towards Dominion in general, because I still think it's the second best 2-player board/card game in the world (after chess).
People like to compete online with 2 players because it's faster and there's less luck.

I have endlessly played Dominion with 3-5, thousands of games. You aren't going to convince me that it doesn't work.

Chess is a great example of what not to do in a board game.
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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2017, 05:26:24 am »
0

I acknowledge the fact that it tries to be balanced for 2-4. It just doesn't always succeed. Why do you reckon the 2-player option is the standard for competitive play?

It's cute that it's possible to play with 3 or 4 players, especially for casual players. But it just doesn't work nearly as well.

By the way, this is not meant as a criticism towards Dominion in general, because I still think it's the second best 2-player board/card game in the world (after chess).
People like to compete online with 2 players because it's faster and there's less luck.

More importantly, there are fewer incompetent third players ending the game while your other opponent is ahead.
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faust

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2017, 05:33:33 am »
+1

It's better than chess.

To be fair, it's difficult to compare. But chess is pretty amazing.
I dunno, chess is not very great. It's simplistic and that can be good, but the rules are hard to memorize (there is not real thematic reason why the different pieces have their particular movesets), there are weird edge-case moves like castling that new players will inevitably forget about, it will frequently end in draws that can theoretically go on indefinitely (which will happen for new players that don't know when it is over).

There's something to be said about games with a lot of strategic complexity and little luck, but Go does most things better and is also more interesting gameplay-wise. (Even though Go still has an edge-case move that I would try to avoid.)
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Gazbag

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2017, 06:29:41 am »
+5

This reminds me a bit of the first game people play with Seaside; Pirate Ship  ruins the game and everyone forgets to keep out their durations. Now Pirate Ship is rarely bought and nobody has a problem with durations. I suspect a similar thing is going to happen with Fool and Night cards in your case.

 I really don't understand the problem with Night cards though. In games with multiple buys I assume you're okay with people buying more than one thing and waiting until they're done. E.g. I don't see how someone buying a card and then buying Scouting Party is fine, but someone buying a card and then playing a Night Watchman "destroys the rhythm of the game".
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greybirdofprey

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2017, 06:47:49 am »
0

I acknowledge the fact that it tries to be balanced for 2-4. It just doesn't always succeed. Why do you reckon the 2-player option is the standard for competitive play?

It's cute that it's possible to play with 3 or 4 players, especially for casual players. But it just doesn't work nearly as well.

By the way, this is not meant as a criticism towards Dominion in general, because I still think it's the second best 2-player board/card game in the world (after chess).
People like to compete online with 2 players because it's faster and there's less luck.

I have endlessly played Dominion with 3-5, thousands of games. You aren't going to convince me that it doesn't work.

Chess is a great example of what not to do in a board game.

I almost always play with 3 players (sometimes 4, rarely 2), and I can confirm that it works really well. I can understand that competitive is 2 players though, fewer decks means fewer stuff to track, fewer random factors, faster games and all piles are divisable by 2.
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ipofanes

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2017, 07:51:18 am »
0

(Even though Go still has an edge-case move that I would try to avoid.)

By Japanese rules. Triple kos should be incredibly easy to sort out rulewise, and one should be permitted to suicide a group as a ko threat.
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GendoIkari

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2017, 09:08:17 am »
+1

I acknowledge the fact that it tries to be balanced for 2-4. It just doesn't always succeed. Why do you reckon the 2-player option is the standard for competitive play?

It's cute that it's possible to play with 3 or 4 players, especially for casual players. But it just doesn't work nearly as well.

By the way, this is not meant as a criticism towards Dominion in general, because I still think it's the second best 2-player board/card game in the world (after chess).
People like to compete online with 2 players because it's faster and there's less luck.

More importantly, there are fewer incompetent third players ending the game while your other opponent is ahead.

While I enjoy 3 player Dominion, this is certainly a pretty big problem for me, and a clear factor in why there's more luck compared to 2 player. But it's not just a problem with the type of people you play with; it's built into the rules of the game.

In 3 player Dominion, if one player is generally weaker, or just less lucky, then it's quite often that someone can be in a position where they can no longer win. Delaying the end of the game by buying a Duchy instead of a Province just won't help them. And so, they default to what makes sense to them, get as many points as possible, even though that's not technically the object of the game. Plenty of points-based games have a thing where one player might not have a chance to win even before the game is over. But in most games, that player trying to maximize his score doesn't also prematurely end the game.
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ObtusePunubiris

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2017, 09:36:09 am »
0

So I mean, I think you simply experienced an actual problem; Fool is too slow when you're not used to the Boons.
My experience supports this "new-to-the-set" idea.  My first game (2P) included Fool and resolving the Boons did take a little while.  Since then, every game I've played has included Boons and a couple, Fool, so we've had time to get familiar with those cards.  It makes a huge difference.  We zip right through the Boons now.  I mean, Fool is always going to be slow (except when it isn't), but not painfully so once the Boons are familiar (please note the lower case "f").
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ObtusePunubiris

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Re: The Fool is a pity
« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2017, 09:48:39 am »
+4

A better option would be to just not play with 4 players. ;)

Everybody knows 4-player Dominion is kind of.. meh. Dominion is balanced for two players.

Everybody knows that some people think that, but not everybody thinks that.

Certainly, how Dominion plays varies a lot depending on player count, and you have to approach games differently with different counts.  But those games are still enjoyable, so that's a feature, not a bug.  Now, I have played Dominion with 5-6 players, and those games, I haven't really enjoyed.  Everything below that though, I'm on board.
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