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VOC! – Untested tweaks to Advanced Game

1. Give 2 Daaldar to any captain who returns to Zealand/Middleburg with at least one type of good in the hold of the ship. In addition, give two more Daaldar to the captain for every two types of goods the ship has in its hold when the ship returns to Zealand/Middleburg.

Variation 1a: The above might give too much income to ship captains, even though it gives them an incentive to help others. The following is a simpler rule that might also be more balanced: Give 2 Daaldars to any captain who returns to Zealand/Middleburg with at least two types of goods in the ship; and there are no extra bonuses for having even more than two types of goods.

Note that, in either version above, we’re referring to all goods carried by any merchants of *any* player on the ship. And two types of goods means, for example, to have at least one Textile chip *and* at least one Pepper chip on board when you return to Zealand.

2. The Advanced rules say that during the New Orders phases (of the ship convoy years), unclaimed contracts (those without a player piece) are given to Amsterdam. On the other hand, during the Sales Phase (Phase 5), contracts that were not fulfilled on time by a player are simply discarded. Instead of discarding these late contracts, give these to Amsterdam as well. This creates more cooperation in the game, because it makes players understand that if Amsterdam wins, nobody wins. It’s like Republic of Rome!

But I’m not entirely sure this second tweak is necessary. Some orders go unclaimed in the New Orders phase, because there is a disincentive to just claiming a contract, since you lose money if you don’t fulfill a contract in time. But there might not be enough unclaimed contracts to make Amsterdam a real contender, without this second tweak. But on the other hand, because you actually lose money if you don’t fulfill a contract on time, in the Advanced Game, that might be enough to make Amsterdam a contender.

3. Follow the regular rules as is, of only turning up three new contracts at each New Orders phase (which happens only on the ship convoy years). Even if you are not a claimant on a contract, you can pick up goods to store in your warehouse by tagging along in a ship (and the more merchants you have in a ship, the more you can carry), and you can gain income as a ship captain (with my optional rule above).

4. I’m not sure it would be wise to allow negotiations such as: “if you go to such and such port, I will give you 5 Daaldar from the proceeds when I return to Middleburg”. Such a kind of negotiation is not in the rules and would be hard to enforce or to keep track off. My ship captain bonus rules above should take away the need for this kind of negotiation. There are enough other forms of negotiation in the rules: where to navigate and the trading of goods and negotiation of sales in Middleburg.

5. Encourage ship captains to visualize before drawing and to draw *quickly* through the open areas that they feel are safe. The game takes much longer if people always draw slowly.

……………………..

All the above points of discussion are motivated from the following insights made in JR Tracy’s excellent session report found here and at consimworld:

Our Indian Ocean journey has a promising start, but we take three years (and a sailor) to negotiate the Bab el Mandeb coming and going. That leaves us with a small disagreement on the quarterdeck - I need to get back home before my contract expires, but David needs to get to Ceylon because *his* contract expires the next year. Dan is captain, and finds my argument (and a 60% cut of my contract) more persuasive. David takes this in stride, crossing Dan off his Christmas card list and promising an interesting sailing experience should he succeed to the captain's post. Dan, with only my one command to work with, sails for home. I expend my one instruction with 'south' to get him pointed toward the finish line. Dan approaches the line...and stops a quarter inch short and turns north! I think he's just messing with David and David thinks he's betraying me. Eyes firmly shut, still sailing, Dan turns south again...and stops once more, still a quarter inch short of home, and opens his eyes. He pulled off the double - my contract expires worthless (well, actually with a five point penalty to me) and David is still pissed off! Sweet!

…..Dan had us turning over six contracts at a time for five players. In his previous experience he thought the rules-mandated three contracts led to too much competition for contracts and not enough cash flow. I disagree - just because one person has a contract doesn't mean no one else can profit from it. Negotiation is at the heart of the game and the most successful voyages had everyone with equal interest in the outcome.

Dan's adjustment had the side advantage of shortening the game time to about three hours
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Luish Moraes Coelho
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"shortening the game to about three hours? How long does this game really take?
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