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#1 Paul Grogan

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 05:43 AM

After 3 months on the shelf with me having no inclination to play it because of missing FAQ and game balance, I might be getting the game on the table this weekend.

Here are my proposals to fix our perceived balance issues:

For the purpose of moving leads, the bottom and top of the beanstalk are also considered to be in the district that they are next to.
- We didnt like people being able to place leads literally next door.  We found that camping around the bottom or top of the beanstalk a bit too good

Visiting the scene of the crime allows you to give the start player token to any player (including yourself)
- Going first can be good.  It can also be very, very bad.  We found in all our games that the person who went first was actually at more of a disadvantage than an advantage, so nobody ever went to the scene of the crime to take the start player, and just laughed at the player who was unlucky enough to have the start player marker and not able to do anything about it

Using a dropship to move to a restricted location, or using a card to move there when you dont have a warrant costs +2 time
- Just makes sense.  The 2 time is the time spent gaining entry

At the end of the game, if there is only evidence of a single value in the strong or weak area, none is removed.
- I have played 2 games now where the strong evidence of a suspect had only multiple pieces all of the same value (I think 3 or 4) and according to the rules they are all removed.  We felt this was completely stupid and made the whole murder thing even more of a random lottery.
- I'm also even considering saying that only negative values should be removed from 'Strong' and positive values removed from 'Weak'

Broadcast Square ability costs 2 time and any 2 favours and only allows you to pick up a puzzle piece from the lowest value area.
- This location is totally overpowered as it is. 

Conspiracy Tokens are only worth +3 VP
- Conspiracy is the easiest way to get points, and in most of our games, people have just concentrated on this because other things arent worth the hassle.

Haas / Jinteki tokens are worth a base value of +4 VP
- In 5 games, nobody has really considered getting these tokens, even when in one game Jinteki had 3 links and was worth +6 VP (becuase the favours alone were worth 4VP, so it wasnt worth it)

Murder Specific event is resolved on the last day of week 1.
- It is counter-intuitive that it isnt resolved until day 8 and it just plays a lot better resolved at the end of the 1st week.

A player can only reveal one piece of the conspiracy through following up leads per turn (not counting any special abilities)
They could still 'dig deeper' with one lead, and then uncover the conspiracy with a second lead.
- Once we played it once, we realised that hammering the conspiracy early on was the best thing to do.  As such, even in a 3 player, the conspiracy was completed by the start of week 2.  With more players it would be completed by the end of week 1.

A puzzle piece that is discarded and not placed on the board is removed from the game.

Sacrificing can only be done on your turn but takes no time.

 



#2 Bleached Lizard

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 07:13 AM

Paul Grogan said:

After 3 months on the shelf with me having no inclination to play it because of missing FAQ and game balance, I might be getting the game on the table this weekend.

Here are my proposals to fix our perceived balance issues:

For the purpose of moving leads, the bottom and top of the beanstalk are also considered to be in the district that they are next to.
- We didnt like people being able to place leads literally next door.  We found that camping around the bottom or top of the beanstalk a bit too good

Visiting the scene of the crime allows you to give the start player token to any player (including yourself)
- Going first can be good.  It can also be very, very bad.  We found in all our games that the person who went first was actually at more of a disadvantage than an advantage, so nobody ever went to the scene of the crime to take the start player, and just laughed at the player who was unlucky enough to have the start player marker and not able to do anything about it

Using a dropship to move to a restricted location, or using a card to move there when you dont have a warrant costs +2 time
- Just makes sense.  The 2 time is the time spent gaining entry

At the end of the game, if there is only evidence of a single value in the strong or weak area, none is removed.
- I have played 2 games now where the strong evidence of a suspect had only multiple pieces all of the same value (I think 3 or 4) and according to the rules they are all removed.  We felt this was completely stupid and made the whole murder thing even more of a random lottery.
- I'm also even considering saying that only negative values should be removed from 'Strong' and positive values removed from 'Weak'

Broadcast Square ability costs 2 time and any 2 favours and only allows you to pick up a puzzle piece from the lowest value area.
- This location is totally overpowered as it is. 

Conspiracy Tokens are only worth +3 VP
- Conspiracy is the easiest way to get points, and in most of our games, people have just concentrated on this because other things arent worth the hassle.

Haas / Jinteki tokens are worth a base value of +4 VP
- In 5 games, nobody has really considered getting these tokens, even when in one game Jinteki had 3 links and was worth +6 VP (becuase the favours alone were worth 4VP, so it wasnt worth it)

Murder Specific event is resolved on the last day of week 1.
- It is counter-intuitive that it isnt resolved until day 8 and it just plays a lot better resolved at the end of the 1st week.

A player can only reveal one piece of the conspiracy through following up leads per turn (not counting any special abilities)
They could still 'dig deeper' with one lead, and then uncover the conspiracy with a second lead.
- Once we played it once, we realised that hammering the conspiracy early on was the best thing to do.  As such, even in a 3 player, the conspiracy was completed by the start of week 2.  With more players it would be completed by the end of week 1.

A puzzle piece that is discarded and not placed on the board is removed from the game.

Sacrificing can only be done on your turn but takes no time.

 

 

Some feedback:

Preventing the PIs from placing at the base or tip of the beanstalk doesn't prevent the problem of them placing at a location 1 move away across any other district border.  The house rule we've implemented is that the lead cannot be placed in the PI's district OR an adjacent district (Earth and Moon are never adjacent, beanstalk is adjacent to its connecting districts).

Broadcast square is now massively over-costed (most of the locations in the game are already over-costed, but anyway...).  Instead change it so that the PI doesn't receive the bonus on the back of the conspiracy tile.

The problem isn't that Jinteki/Haas tokens aren't worth enough - it's that it's so much easier to get points from favours through the conspiracy.  Recommend changing so that players only score points for each *pair* of favours from the conspiracy.

1 conspiracy tile/turn: this opens up the problem that no one will then want to place the 2nd-to-last conspiracy tile that leads to a 5-in-a-row.  This one is a difficult one to fix and will require extensive house ruling.  I'll be publishing my own variant for the conspiracy soon-ish to BGG.



#3 Paul Grogan

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 09:28 AM

Bleached Lizard said:

1. Preventing the PIs from placing at the base or tip of the beanstalk doesn't prevent the problem of them placing at a location 1 move away across any other district border.  The house rule we've implemented is that the lead cannot be placed in the PI's district OR an adjacent district (Earth and Moon are never adjacent, beanstalk is adjacent to its connecting districts).

2. Broadcast square is now massively over-costed (most of the locations in the game are already over-costed, but anyway...).  Instead change it so that the PI doesn't receive the bonus on the back of the conspiracy tile.

3. The problem isn't that Jinteki/Haas tokens aren't worth enough - it's that it's so much easier to get points from favours through the conspiracy.  Recommend changing so that players only score points for each *pair* of favours from the conspiracy.

4. 1 conspiracy tile/turn: this opens up the problem that no one will then want to place the 2nd-to-last conspiracy tile that leads to a 5-in-a-row.  This one is a difficult one to fix and will require extensive house ruling.  I'll be publishing my own variant for the conspiracy soon-ish to BGG.

Firstly, thanks for the feedback.

1.  You've gone one step further then.  I was also considering the rule "cannot be placed anywhere that the PI can get to (with normal movement) in 1 move.

2. I possibly have over-costed it, but as you say, lots of the others are overcosted too.  I like your idea of it not giving the normal bonus and might try this another time.

3. Another nice idea.  What do you mean exaclty by "pair" of favours, are you saying if street favours are worth 3, make it so that it is 2 street favours are worth 3?

4. Yeah, I thought about that, but figured that at some point it will be worth doing, because by placing that 4th in a row, you might be linking up something to the outside, which is powerful enough.  I've also made conspiracy tokens worth +3, might even reduce this to +2.

Look forward to reading your version.



#4 Bleached Lizard

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 11:58 PM

1: But saying that you can't place a lead at 1-move distance requires checking every time using the calipers.  No-same-or-adjacent placement is quicker and easier (and, I'm guessing, closer to the intent of the original rule - that it shouldn't be too easy for the placing player to follow up that same lead straight away).  Plus, if you make it no-same-or-adjacent, you can do away with passing the lead to the right - the player following up the lead can place it themselves.

3: Yep - the player needs *two* street favours in order to gain three points.

4: Trust me, it's not.  We've tried playing this way already, and - providing the players are competant - no one will place that 2nd-to-last piece.  The bonus points from the links are not worth giving someone else 4VPs (problem being that the link bonuses are only *potential* points, whereas the 5-in-a-row are solid "I have them now" points).  The problem with the conspiracy is not only that it is overpowered in terms of the rewards it grants, but that the rewards it grants are dished out in a very un-even-handed way.  If you reduce the conspiracy tokens' value to 2VPs it might be enough, but still...

I'll send my variant to you through BGG GeekMail.



#5 Paul Grogan

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 03:27 AM

Bleached Lizard said:

1: But saying that you can't place a lead at 1-move distance requires checking every time using the calipers.  No-same-or-adjacent placement is quicker and easier (and, I'm guessing, closer to the intent of the original rule - that it shouldn't be too easy for the placing player to follow up that same lead straight away).  Plus, if you make it no-same-or-adjacent, you can do away with passing the lead to the right - the player following up the lead can place it themselves.

4: Trust me, it's not.  We've tried playing this way already, and - providing the players are competant - no one will place that 2nd-to-last piece.  The bonus points from the links are not worth giving someone else 4VPs (problem being that the link bonuses are only *potential* points, whereas the 5-in-a-row are solid "I have them now" points).  The problem with the conspiracy is not only that it is overpowered in terms of the rewards it grants, but that the rewards it grants are dished out in a very un-even-handed way.  If you reduce the conspiracy tokens' value to 2VPs it might be enough, but still...

1. Yeah, I thought about this last night and will use the "no-same-or-adjacent" instead.

4. ok, I'll take your word for it.  I still want to limit puzzle placement, because otherwise it will just get hammered about half way through the game.  So yeah, maybe reducing it to +2 initially.  Need to get some games under my belt with the changes before seeing how it goes.

Thanks for all the comments.  Our game will be better for it.

Ooo. I've just had another idea that might just work.   The hero marker next to the conspiracy puzzle starts off pointing to an empty space on the table.  In other words, someone has to dig deeper at least once (to move their marker to the first real pile) before placing a puzzle piece.  When they do, their marker is moved back to the empty space.

Since I think puzzle pieces are about twice as valuable as placing a piece of evidence, then the rules should support the fact that it takes twice as much time and effort.  Hmmmm, might have to think about this one a bit more.



#6 Tsugo

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 08:15 AM

Paul Grogan said:

At the end of the game, if there is only evidence of a single value in the strong or weak area, none is removed.
- I have played 2 games now where the strong evidence of a suspect had only multiple pieces all of the same value (I think 3 or 4) and according to the rules they are all removed.  We felt this was completely stupid and made the whole murder thing even more of a random lottery.
- I'm also even considering saying that only negative values should be removed from 'Strong' and positive values removed from 'Weak

 

Solving the murder is not a lottery.  Any player who is serious about solving the murder needs to be smart about the placement of evidence.  When a low negative token is drawn, make sure and play it on your suspects Strong evidence, and vice versa for the Weak.

Also, you have to make use of the snitch.  There is no reason the evidence results should be a complete surprise.

 



#7 Bleached Lizard

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 09:01 AM

Tsugo said:

Paul Grogan said:

At the end of the game, if there is only evidence of a single value in the strong or weak area, none is removed.
- I have played 2 games now where the strong evidence of a suspect had only multiple pieces all of the same value (I think 3 or 4) and according to the rules they are all removed.  We felt this was completely stupid and made the whole murder thing even more of a random lottery.
- I'm also even considering saying that only negative values should be removed from 'Strong' and positive values removed from 'Weak

 

 

 

Solving the murder is not a lottery.  Any player who is serious about solving the murder needs to be smart about the placement of evidence.  When a low negative token is drawn, make sure and play it on your suspects Strong evidence, and vice versa for the Weak.

Also, you have to make use of the snitch.  There is no reason the evidence results should be a complete surprise.

 

Yes, because not being surprised by the result makes all the difference.



#8 Zinho73

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 11:03 AM

Tsugo said:

Paul Grogan said:

At the end of the game, if there is only evidence of a single value in the strong or weak area, none is removed.
- I have played 2 games now where the strong evidence of a suspect had only multiple pieces all of the same value (I think 3 or 4) and according to the rules they are all removed.  We felt this was completely stupid and made the whole murder thing even more of a random lottery.
- I'm also even considering saying that only negative values should be removed from 'Strong' and positive values removed from 'Weak

 

 

 

Solving the murder is not a lottery.  Any player who is serious about solving the murder needs to be smart about the placement of evidence.  When a low negative token is drawn, make sure and play it on your suspects Strong evidence, and vice versa for the Weak.

Also, you have to make use of the snitch.  There is no reason the evidence results should be a complete surprise.

 

Sometimes you just cannot be smart with something random. If you draw tiles of the same values or a lot of negatives and not one positive, etc. And it do happens a lot.



#9 dedindahed

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 02:28 AM

When repostioning leads, the new placement has to be on a site that has the same colour as the previous site, does this not make 1 a non-problem?

Given that both beanstalk end locations are green, is camping out nearby really all that effective considering it only helps when you get to reposition a green lead, which seems like it could be easily foiled by your opponents.

I've not played yet, only read the rules, so I may be missing something....



#10 Bleached Lizard

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 07:22 AM

dedindahed said:

When repostioning leads, the new placement has to be on a site that has the same colour as the previous site, does this not make 1 a non-problem?

Given that both beanstalk end locations are green, is camping out nearby really all that effective considering it only helps when you get to reposition a green lead, which seems like it could be easily foiled by your opponents.

I've not played yet, only read the rules, so I may be missing something....

The base of the beanstalk ("The Root" - Beanstalk station 1) is one movement away from Broadcast Square - one of the most powerful locations in the game.  Both are green (civic) locations.



#11 dedindahed

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Posted 31 March 2009 - 11:43 PM

Bleached Lizard said:

 

The base of the beanstalk ("The Root" - Beanstalk station 1) is one movement away from Broadcast Square - one of the most powerful locations in the game.  Both are green (civic) locations.

 

But camping in the area is only effective if the player after you follows up a green lead on their turn, there is a strong possibility of this not happening.



#12 Bleached Lizard

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 12:57 AM

dedindahed said:

Bleached Lizard said:

 

 

The base of the beanstalk ("The Root" - Beanstalk station 1) is one movement away from Broadcast Square - one of the most powerful locations in the game.  Both are green (civic) locations.

 

 

 

But camping in the area is only effective if the player after you follows up a green lead on their turn, there is a strong possibility of this not happening.

Yes, but that's just the worst circumstance.  In my experience it's pretty much always the case that a player can place a lead 1, maybe 2 at the most, moves away from their detective.  It's only if the detective is standing dead in the centre of a district that this becomes less likely, but in most cases detectives are almost always near a district border.



#13 dedindahed

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 07:05 AM

The point of my post was that i don't see the ends of the beanstalk as a significant problem, which seemed to be implied (as it's no better than a 1 move away in an adjacent district).  I don't see placing leads one move away as a problem, as it benefits all players equally, and you need a good supply of leads through the game.

Although the puzzle does provide a LOT of VP's you don't need to place a lot of peices yourself in order to get those vp's, you just need to place the ends of rows/columns.  If you're playing in a group that races to complete the puzzle, leave them to it and snipe the end pieces when possible.

Also i would think that many of the rows/columns will become blocked as the game progresses, how many conspiracy tokens would you say get given out in an average game??

 



#14 Bleached Lizard

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 12:16 PM

The ends of the beanstalk aren't an especially significant problem, and you could even say that cross-district boundary-hopping isn't a significant problem either if you don't mind playing that way.  The problem I have with it is that it just makes lead placement and collection far too easy and cheesy.  There's no skill involved in it.  You just place it as close to yourself as you can and then pick it up when it's your turn.

It also seems to be against the intent of the spirit of the rules, which are that the lead shouldn't be too easy for the placing player to collect.  Why else would the rules state that you can't place it in the same district as your detective?  This rule is evidently a deliberate attempt to make collecting the lead you've just placed difficult for yourself, but the rule fails simply because districts are not all that big.  It seems like a much more interesting mechanic if you can't place the lead anywhere near yourself, so that you have to think much more carefully about where you should place it (and/or who you should place it near).

The puzzle is usually completed by using your whole turn to place 2-3 pieces in a row.



#15 Nhoj

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 02:52 PM

Bleached Lizard said:

The ends of the beanstalk aren't an especially significant problem, and you could even say that cross-district boundary-hopping isn't a significant problem either if you don't mind playing that way.  The problem I have with it is that it just makes lead placement and collection far too easy and cheesy.  There's no skill involved in it.  You just place it as close to yourself as you can and then pick it up when it's your turn.

It also seems to be against the intent of the spirit of the rules, which are that the lead shouldn't be too easy for the placing player to collect.  Why else would the rules state that you can't place it in the same district as your detective?  This rule is evidently a deliberate attempt to make collecting the lead you've just placed difficult for yourself, but the rule fails simply because districts are not all that big.  It seems like a much more interesting mechanic if you can't place the lead anywhere near yourself, so that you have to think much more carefully about where you should place it (and/or who you should place it near).

The puzzle is usually completed by using your whole turn to place 2-3 pieces in a row.

 

OK - I'll bite.  Could you give me ONE example (and hopefully not too contrived) of when I could place THREE puzzle pieces in a row?

 

It could be a game winner - but maybe not?

 

There are a number of ways to victory IMHO and there are several dead ends - so watch out for ................................

  

a) Players focussed on the puzzle - easy meat

 

b) Players focussed on the murder - Easy Meat!

 

c) Players focussed on their poor pathetic lives - EASY MEAT!!

 

Do you see where I'm coming from?

 

I'm guessing not but in any case

 

Regards

 

John McK



#16 Paul Grogan

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 07:34 PM

Nhoj said:

 

OK - I'll bite.  Could you give me ONE example (and hopefully not too contrived) of when I could place THREE puzzle pieces in a row?

There are a number of ways to victory IMHO and there are several dead ends - so watch out for ................................

 

a) Players focussed on the puzzle - easy meat
b) Players focussed on the murder - Easy Meat!
c) Players focussed on their poor pathetic lives - EASY MEAT!!

Do you see where I'm coming from?
 

 

 

 

Hi John,

Move, follow up a lead, Move, follow up a lead, Move, follow up a lead.

Have seen this done in most games (if not all) I have played.  Conspiracy is finished at the start of week 2 in a 3 player game, at the end of week 1 in a 4 player game and on day 4-5 in a 5 player game.  Why?  Because as has been said many times before, it is the single easiest way to get VP.

The a,b,c.  Yes, I see where you are coming from and would love the game to be balanced so that a player can choose a bit of everything.  Concentrating on just 1 wont work.  However, whilst it may seem as I'm contradicting myself saying that pounding the conspiracy early is best, and then saying "dont focus on one thing", but getting the conspiracy done early, there is then nothing else left to do, so you have to do something else :)

Seriously, if I focus on the puzzle and other people dont, the VP from the puzzle are huge.  But it isnt just that.  It is the fact that a player following up a lead to place evidence draws 1 random chit and places it on 1 place of 1 suspect.  This may or may not change the outcome and is a very minor thing with all the other evidence.

OR: You could place a piece of the puzzle.  And get a freebie bonus depending on which piece it is.  Then you get the freebie bonus on the back of some of them.  The ability to influence what is (and isnt) worth VP at the end of the game, and also the possibility of getting the conspiracy tokens.

Simply put, placing a puzzle piece is way better than placing 1 piece of evidence.  If this wasnt the case, why is it that in the 3 play groups I speak to who all learnt to play this game independently say that the conspiracy is way overpowered and all players are completing it as soon as they can.  Any player who doesnt has no chance of winning.

 

 

 

 



#17 Bleached Lizard

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 10:25 PM

Paul Grogan said:

Nhoj said:

 

OK - I'll bite.  Could you give me ONE example (and hopefully not too contrived) of when I could place THREE puzzle pieces in a row?

There are a number of ways to victory IMHO and there are several dead ends - so watch out for ................................

 

a) Players focussed on the puzzle - easy meat
b) Players focussed on the murder - Easy Meat!
c) Players focussed on their poor pathetic lives - EASY MEAT!!

Do you see where I'm coming from?
 

 

 

 

Hi John,

Move, follow up a lead, Move, follow up a lead, Move, follow up a lead.

Have seen this done in most games (if not all) I have played.  Conspiracy is finished at the start of week 2 in a 3 player game, at the end of week 1 in a 4 player game and on day 4-5 in a 5 player game.  Why?  Because as has been said many times before, it is the single easiest way to get VP.

The a,b,c.  Yes, I see where you are coming from and would love the game to be balanced so that a player can choose a bit of everything.  Concentrating on just 1 wont work.  However, whilst it may seem as I'm contradicting myself saying that pounding the conspiracy early is best, and then saying "dont focus on one thing", but getting the conspiracy done early, there is then nothing else left to do, so you have to do something else :)

Seriously, if I focus on the puzzle and other people dont, the VP from the puzzle are huge.  But it isnt just that.  It is the fact that a player following up a lead to place evidence draws 1 random chit and places it on 1 place of 1 suspect.  This may or may not change the outcome and is a very minor thing with all the other evidence.

OR: You could place a piece of the puzzle.  And get a freebie bonus depending on which piece it is.  Then you get the freebie bonus on the back of some of them.  The ability to influence what is (and isnt) worth VP at the end of the game, and also the possibility of getting the conspiracy tokens.

Simply put, placing a puzzle piece is way better than placing 1 piece of evidence.  If this wasnt the case, why is it that in the 3 play groups I speak to who all learnt to play this game independently say that the conspiracy is way overpowered and all players are completing it as soon as they can.  Any player who doesnt has no chance of winning.

 

 

 

 

Agreed.  This is exactly how it is (correction: WAS, when we played with the original rules) in our games as well.



#18 Nhoj

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 11:04 PM

3 leads within easy reach in one turn? ---

I'd love to play against other players who would let this happen

Are you sure the conspiracy is broken and not the way you approach this particular game?

 

Regards

 

John



#19 Bleached Lizard

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 12:29 AM

Nhoj said:

3 leads within easy reach in one turn? ---

I'd love to play against other players who would let this happen

Are you sure the conspiracy is broken and not the way you approach this particular game?

 

Regards

 

John

"Let" happen...?  Could you expand on this statement, please?

I've only ever played with three players and even then it is all too easy to "let" this happen.  With five players I imagine it would be almost impossible to avoid!

The proposed variant is designed specifically to prevent "letting" this happen.  In fact, we've been using this variant for the past few games and it works wonders: now you can't just place the leads near yourself and chain them for the easy 3-lead grab, but instead you have to try and place them as far away from others as possible (or use them as bait) and make sure that they *don't* form chains for your opponents.



#20 dedindahed

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 12:51 AM

I haven't played enough to prove any theories, but puzzle-at-all costs sounds like a groupthink issue.

I agree, there are a lot of VP's available from the puzzle, but they are not proportional to the amount of pieces you place,

only the amount of 5 chains you connect.

 

The Murder IS directly proportional to the amount of evidence you place, and while each individual piece is not worth much,  the combined results of all your placement may be.

 

Has anyone TRIED not focusing on puzzle pieces (except to grab the ends of rows when available) and placing more evidence early on, and has this been PROVEN to be a losing strategy, as I can see a situation where one player does this, gets about the same amount of puzzle VP's as the focused players, but has a lot more placed evidence by the end of the game.

Admittedly once the twilight shift pieces run out, placing tiles becomes a VERY efficient use of time/leads

 

Try heading towards the player who goes after you, might give them second thoughts about placing all leads nearby.






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