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Author Topic: When seating order matters - Chariot Race  (Read 479 times)

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crj

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When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« on: September 17, 2018, 10:11:21 am »
+3

I play quite a lot of multi-player Dominion. I happen to feel it works really nicely for three players and is one of my favourite games at that player count.

However, there are just a handful of cards where seating order matters in multiplayer games: Masquerade, Tribute, Possession, Contraband, Advisor, Chariot Race, Gladiator, Envoy.

A long time ago, I played a really messed up five-player game in which player A Possessed player B and forced them to play King's-Court Possession "for a laugh". Needless to say, when player B then possessed player C three times over, they won easily. We all just shrugged and wrote it off.

For Contaband, Advisor and Envoy, although left-hand opponent has the final say, the other players can offer opinions on how they should choose. (Does everyone allow that, out of interest?) The left-hand-opponent effect is very minor.

I've been in the occasional game where one person got noticeably nicer stuff passed to them than the others via Masquerade. I've been in games where Tribute was much more powerful for the player to the left of someone with a diverse deck of multi-typed cards. An issue, but not a big deal.


But then I had a Chariot Race game last week where the seating order annihilated me.

Three players. Me, another strong player to my left, a weaker player to my right. I focused on Chariot Race, mindful that I could ramp up really quickly, then have an amazing turn each time I found something costing $2 or less on top of opponent's deck. Left-hand opponent pursued a Tournament strategy but also, seeing what I was up to, thinned even more aggressively than usual, avoided buying the nice $2-coster and didn't nab Followers which I believe is normally their favourite Prize. Other opponent went for a Dismantle strategy, flooding their deck with Copper faster than they could mop it up.

I got eight Chariot Races. Left-hand opponent picked up a couple, largely to deprive me of them. Guess which of us won more races. )-8  (Yes, my Chariot Race did hit a Prize. Once. Too little, too late.)

If we'd been seated the other order around the table, I'd have had plenty of epic Province+8VP turns.


Has anyone else ever encountered similarly extreme problems with cards in this category?
« Last Edit: September 17, 2018, 10:13:43 am by crj »
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Holunder9

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2018, 10:34:02 am »
0

I don't view more interactive non-mirror games of Dominion as a problem. You should always react to what the opponents do anyway.
Also, note that Chariot Race has an intentional negative self-synergy. So if they rarely hit during a game you might want to blame yourself for not having enough expensive stuff in your deck or for having bought too many of them instead of complaining about an opponent who excelled at countering them.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2018, 10:35:46 am by Holunder9 »
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crj

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2018, 10:36:10 am »
0

The issue isn't the interactivity. Interactivity is great.

The issue is the advantage for whoever has a weak player seated to their left, in a game where skill levels aren't finely matched.
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Holunder9

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2018, 10:42:40 am »
0

I don't get your point. If you prefer a gaming group that is more homogenous skill-wise that's nothing anybody but yourself can help you with. I don't mind this, different folks excel at different games.

Also, if you knew beforehand that the player to your left is better than the one to your right perhaps going for Chariot Race was not the best strategy so perhaps you made a meta-strategical mistake?

I had a 3P game recently where I went for Plan - Chariot Race to trash but my opponent went for some heavy Gold gaining (via a fan card) that I did not anticipate during the opening. Chariot Race is always tricky to evaluate so who cares as long as the game is fun and interesting.
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Chappy7

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2018, 10:51:58 am »
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It also matters when you are to the left of the player who is flinging the most curses/ruins and you happen to get the last one from the pile. 
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faust

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2018, 10:57:43 am »
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Generally it is bad practice to plan your strategy around the fact that your opponent is weak. If your strategy could not beat a skilled player, then the issue is not seating order, but that your strategy sucked. It's not even that your opponent profited off the seating order; they just built the better deck.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2018, 10:59:31 am by faust »
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crj

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2018, 11:19:00 am »
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I don't get your point. If you prefer a gaming group that is more homogenous skill-wise that's nothing anybody but yourself can help you with.
Most of the time, a lack of homogeneity is a non-issue.

Even when it does matter, it normally matters approximately equally for all players. (e.g. if one player is floundering, the other two both need to plan their greening around coping with six Provinces in their deck, not the usual four.)

Gross asymmetries are so rare I'd not encountered one before. Hence posting.
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Screwyioux

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2018, 11:35:50 am »
+1

This can come up with things like Swindler too, particularly with less experienced players.

In a 3-player gameone opponent (who was newish) hit another opponent's 5-cost on T3 and considered what to do. I told him the "standard" play would be to give player C a Duchy but he can do as he likes. He immediately chose Duchy, as it was the obvious choice.

Player C was pretty ticked off at me for telling him what to pick but, eh, I consider that more of a rules clarification than strategy advice. If the player to your right doesn't know he's allowed to turn your copper into a curse, arguably, you're cheating by not telling him.

So seating order CAN matter in those cases but shouldn't.

Where 3p games with high skill disparity really get weird is Smugglers.
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DG

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2018, 11:39:11 am »
+2

Generally it is bad practice to plan your strategy around the fact that your opponent is weak.

In multiplayer this isn't strictly true. For example, it makes a big difference in three player games whether two players are buying provinces and one player is buying alt vp, or whether one player is buying provinces and two are buying alt vp. There isn't a single optimum strategy without knowing how your opponents will play. Part of your judgement may need to be "I would do this, but this other player isn't good enough to think of it so will probably do that instead".

I can also remember way back to Theory losing some competition with a 4 player final. There was a kingdom with some fishing villages, island, seas hag, ambassador, and Theory did the sensible thing with ambassadors while the others bought sea hags or islands. The sensible thing lost to the person who bought islands and scored some points before the islands, curses, and fishing villages ran out. In this case Theory needed to plan the strategy around the weak decks the opponents were actually building.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2018, 11:49:38 am by DG »
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crj

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2018, 12:07:49 pm »
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Where 3p games with high skill disparity really get weird is Smugglers.
Ooh - point. I only reminded myself of which cards were affected by searching the card list for "left". I forgot to search for "right" so overlooked Smugglers and Treasure Hunter.

I wouldn't expect Smugglers to dominate quite as much as Chariot Race did, but I can see there's a convoluted strategy-copying aspect to it as well as the mechanical considerations!
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jsh357

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2018, 12:48:26 pm »
+1

Welcome to the club, op! #bancr
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trivialknot

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2018, 03:04:27 pm »
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Seating order is always an issue in Puerto Rico.  A weaker player provides a major advantage to the player to their left.  In our play group, our way of dealing with this is to just accept it, since it's just a casual game.  We also offer friendly strategy advice to newbies.

In Dominion, I could see this being more frustrating, if one player is getting lots of VP with Chariot Race, and that option is totally unavailable to you, and you know you lost, but the game is still going.  It's good to have a play group that will occasionally agree to end the game prematurely, if one player is winning and it's not fun for the other players.
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jomini

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2018, 09:03:54 pm »
+1

Generally it is bad practice to plan your strategy around the fact that your opponent is weak. If your strategy could not beat a skilled player, then the issue is not seating order, but that your strategy sucked. It's not even that your opponent profited off the seating order; they just built the better deck.

Nope. Consider the following. Player 1 is going Gardens without +gains. Even in a 30 turns game they will max out at 32 VP. Seated to their left is a skilled player. Seated to their right is you.

Kingdom: Gardens, Kc, Monument, Possession, Royal seal, Loan, Pstone, Venture, Fteller, Castles
Events: Donate, Alms
Landmarks:Baths, Obelisk (Fteller)

What's your play?

You go gardens ... good luck you can at best snag some bonus cards from the Castles
You go money provinces ... the other skilled player goes Kc x2/Monument x3 and cranks 11 VP/turn or opts for the Fteller and let's you play 4 card hands for the rest of the game while still churning 8 VP/turn till the Baths run out.
You go Kc/Monument ... they go Kc x2/Monument/Possession x2 and they crank 33 VP/turn
You go Kc/Possession ... you get to gain a bunch of $4 or less cards, they go Kc/Monument and bury you

There are cards in dominion that reward you for sitting one way or the other relative to strong players. There is nothing you can do about turn order. This obviously contrived scenario is rock solid proof that position anisotropy exists when players in 3er or higher have differing levels of skill. Smugglers and Possession mean that you will see this sort of anistropic lock a good percentage of the time in mixed skill games.

Another major anisotropic card in higher player counts is Cutpurse. Cpurse is murder in 4er and up. If everyone opens them and you are P4 (5, 6) then you can expect that is exceedingly high odds that you will have zero hands without being hit and not particularly shabby odds that you will be hit multiple times before you can play T3. Odds of P1 hitting an early clutch $5 (like say Upgrade) are idiotically higher than P4; this very often then leads to to a runaway game where P4 struggles to buy Silvers while P1 Upgrades his estates, gets more Upgrades from the higher silver density, and then trashes out the coppers to become immune to Cpurse.

Turn order in most of dominion is fairly isotropic; it gets out of whack in some cases in higher player count games and there is nothing skill can do to overcome that in some cases.
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ackmondual

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2018, 03:00:45 am »
0

Turn order has always been an issue in Dominion.  In one tourney game, and on rare occasions, casual games, we actually did reverse the turn order from one game to another.   So instead of A, B, C, and D... D goes first, followed by C, B, A.

This can come up with things like Swindler too, particularly with less experienced players.

In a 3-player gameone opponent (who was newish) hit another opponent's 5-cost on T3 and considered what to do. I told him the "standard" play would be to give player C a Duchy but he can do as he likes. He immediately chose Duchy, as it was the obvious choice.

Player C was pretty ticked off at me for telling him what to pick but, eh, I consider that more of a rules clarification than strategy advice. If the player to your right doesn't know he's allowed to turn your copper into a curse, arguably, you're cheating by not telling him.

So seating order CAN matter in those cases but shouldn't.

Where 3p games with high skill disparity really get weird is Smugglers.
In tournament games, I generally don't offer strategy advice, nor even something like that.  In non-tourney games, I don't like to do this.  I could obliterate newbies with my knowledge, but I'd rather not.  As another example, I will tell players stuff like:
1) if there are Embargo tokens on a pile, you can gain the pile without also gaining the Curse (like via Workshop)
2) If resolving Torturer and there are no more Curses left, you are indeed allowed to gain a curse to no effect
3) I'll point out how much fun it is to abuse Villa  8)
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Screwyioux

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Re: When seating order matters - Chariot Race
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2018, 10:02:56 am »
0

Turn order has always been an issue in Dominion.  In one tourney game, and on rare occasions, casual games, we actually did reverse the turn order from one game to another.   So instead of A, B, C, and D... D goes first, followed by C, B, A.

This can come up with things like Swindler too, particularly with less experienced players.

In a 3-player gameone opponent (who was newish) hit another opponent's 5-cost on T3 and considered what to do. I told him the "standard" play would be to give player C a Duchy but he can do as he likes. He immediately chose Duchy, as it was the obvious choice.

Player C was pretty ticked off at me for telling him what to pick but, eh, I consider that more of a rules clarification than strategy advice. If the player to your right doesn't know he's allowed to turn your copper into a curse, arguably, you're cheating by not telling him.

So seating order CAN matter in those cases but shouldn't.

Where 3p games with high skill disparity really get weird is Smugglers.
In tournament games, I generally don't offer strategy advice, nor even something like that.  In non-tourney games, I don't like to do this.  I could obliterate newbies with my knowledge, but I'd rather not.  As another example, I will tell players stuff like:
1) if there are Embargo tokens on a pile, you can gain the pile without also gaining the Curse (like via Workshop)
2) If resolving Torturer and there are no more Curses left, you are indeed allowed to gain a curse to no effect
3) I'll point out how much fun it is to abuse Villa  8)

We're saying the same thing. Pointing out that you can give Duchies and curses with Swindler isn't that far off from putting out that you can pile curses with Embargo.
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