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Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War» Forums » Rules

Subject: Doesn't Prestige seriously unbalance the game? rss

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James Ludlow
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Boots01 wrote:
I can't remember what else was in her tableau but we all thought she had it.


Nick, please don't take this as me picking on you, because I'm just as guilty of doing this in some of my games as well. It does tie into your request for strategy though.

"Thinking" that someone is in the lead is poor play. Everything is face up, and you should always know what the relative positions are. It's like playing poker and not paying attention to the pot size. People do it all the time, but it's lazy and gives poor results.

I'm not saying that you should slow down the game by counting every turn. But an experienced player should be able to look at a tableau and estimate pretty closely what the score is. If not, then it's something to practice at to get better.


 
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ackmondual
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jdludlow wrote:
I'm not saying that you should slow down the game by counting every turn. But an experienced player should be able to look at a tableau and estimate pretty closely what the score is. If not, then it's something to practice at to get better.
Mostly true, but I will say once you play 4p+ games, things get very hard to track effectively. 4p ain't too bad, but 5 to 7p (I'm sure there's someone out there who tried this out of curiosity or necessity), then you run into problems. The game's going to fast to count score/military/IV powers, some people are making too big of strides to devote less attention to, or some players are simply on the other side of the table that you really can't see what they have.
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James Ludlow
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ackmondual wrote:
jdludlow wrote:
I'm not saying that you should slow down the game by counting every turn. But an experienced player should be able to look at a tableau and estimate pretty closely what the score is. If not, then it's something to practice at to get better.


Mostly true, but I will say once you play 4p+ games, things get very hard to track effectively. 4p ain't too bad, but 5 to 7p (I'm sure there's someone out there who tried this out of curiosity or necessity), then you run into problems. The game's going to fast to count score/military/IV powers, some people are making too big of strides to devote less attention to, or some players are simply on the other side of the table that you really can't see what they have.


I agree with all of that. That's not a small part of why I rarely ever play Race with more than two players.

 
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jdludlow wrote:
ackmondual wrote:
Mostly true, but I will say once you play 4p+ games, things get very hard to track effectively.

I agree with all of that. That's not a small part of why I rarely ever play Race with more than two players.

I recommend using dice to track scores, and updating the relevent ones at your critical decision points.
 
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Guy Srinivasan
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Boots01 wrote:
I would like to add my voice to the chorus asking a player with much more experience with TBoW to churn out a strategy article.

I am not yet good at TBoW. But I will write such an article, and hopefully it will spark enough discussion around strategy to be useful to "I just got the game how do I deal with Prestige!" players. Look for it by Tuesday.
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Andrew
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Keldon's AI overvalues Prestige, to the extent that multiple players will perform first-turn Chromosome searches to find Ravaged Uplift World. I've been trying out non-prestige strategies against it, and they work fine (though they are likely inflated because of the overvaluation). Early PGA still annoys me (so do early PGR and GFed), but the only time I'm irritated that I don't have prestige is when with an economic strategy looking to triple-consume.

It's a measure of how much Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War shakes up the game that the new and unfamiliar strategy appears overpowered. Punishing opponents pursuing prestige - exploiting card shortages after an expensive prestige-related card, rushing the game end to minimise prestige bonuses, leeching prestige-collecting phases - is all standard RftG. I suspect the difficulty players have against prestige is actually difficulty coming to terms with the substantially increased scoring opportunities hidden in a much thicker deck.

My guess is that players new to the expansion find it easier to play prestige engines with more straightforward combos (RFF, PGA) and more predictable phase-calls (PGA and repeated develop) than to get a sense of card frequencies, ascertain when it's best to call Search or Prestige-Develop, and boost their Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs Imperium-style strategies and scores.

There's also the cognitive bias in remembering games where prestige won the day because the mechanic very tangibly gives a sense of "runaway leader".
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Boots
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jdludlow wrote:
[q="Boots01"]Nick, please don't take this as me picking on you, because I'm just as guilty of doing this in some of my games as well. It does tie into your request for strategy though.

"Thinking" that someone is in the lead is poor play. Everything is face up, and you should always know what the relative positions are. It's like playing poker and not paying attention to the pot size. People do it all the time, but it's lazy and gives poor results.


Thanks for this, it's explained something I should have realised a while back (and indeed has been said in this very forum) - RftG has been steadily moving away from a casual game for a while now. Since myself and my group enjoy it as a casual game and aren't at all interested in the sort of competitive card-counting that goes along with this sort of play, perhaps tBoW is just not for us.

In fact, I'm not even likely to pay all that much attention to an opponent's tableu. Maybe that's heretical, but it's my game and I'll play it how I want. What I get out of Race is a fast, well-themed and overall enjoyable,CCG experience.

If I need to...

Quote:
...get a sense of card frequencies, ascertain when it's best to call Search or Prestige-Develop, and boost [my] Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs Imperium-style strategies and scores."


... then I don't really have enough time to devote to the game to learn things like optmimum timings or card frequencies. This quote explains why the poker metaphors - it seems like the same skillset is required to get good at both.

I must say, in hindsight, my ability to win Race declined sharply at the introduction of RvI. That as the point where I feel like the game stopped being 'casual' and started becoming high-maintenance. My girlfriend concurs - she said to me today over lunch that she was best at the game when it was just tGS. I think it might be time to go back to RvI and get better, or ditch RvI and tBoW and try tGS again, which we all agree was when the game was at its most enjoyable.

However, I think the sentiment that (to quote fateswanderer again, though not to single him out as others have said the same thing)

Quote:
There's also the cognitive bias in remembering games where prestige won the day because the mechanic very tangibly gives a sense of "runaway leader".


is part of the problem with this thread. I'm not suffering from cognitive bias, or over-valuing prestige wins - every game we've played thus far has been won by prestige leader. So much so that we are, after only about 9 plays, heartily sick of it as a mechanic. I can recognise that the problem is almost certainly not with the game. We clearly aren't very good at the pre-tBoW game, as we can't build efficient tableaus that can beat prestige.

Until there is a strategy guide, I guess I'll just keep playing Keldon's AI and swearing at it!


EDIT:

Tom Lehmann wrote:
I question your assertion about Prestige strategies being "easy" -- in your case you got both of the only two cards in the game that multiply prestige; without either one you wouldn't have won (since -16 prestige is more than your winning margin). How is this different than, say, getting both Imperium Lords and the Imperium Seat down in order to get lots of points from Imperium cards, along with points for some Rebel worlds?


I thought I should respond to this, if only to say yes, fair point. I'd completely overlooked it. It was bad luck that this game came at the end of three where PL had won each of the three games, but as I say above it might be our incompetence in the increasingly unforgiving expanded Race.
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Tom Lehmann
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As I've said elsewhere several times, we intentionally designed the base game and each expansion to be a good "stopping point". I certainly know players who really enjoy just the base game by itself.

For your group, it could well be the case the RFTG + TGS delivers the most fun. I have no problem with that at all. I just hope you can trade your copies of RvI and TBoW for something that you enjoy more.

Yes, with all three expansions, RFTG is certainly more complex. We are aware of this, which is why we don't wish to have any more expansions in this arc.

The next "arc" (over a year away) is a single, larger expansion that will take RFTG in a different direction, aiming for a complexity level just a bit higher than TGS. Perhaps it, or Dice for the Galaxy, will work better for you.
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Andrew
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Boots01 wrote:
myself and my group enjoy it as a casual game and aren't at all interested in...competitive card-counting...

In fact, I'm not even likely to pay all that much attention to an opponent's tableu.


I don't want to be misunderstood - I hate card-counting, seldom count points before the end of the game, frequently ignore opponent tableaus as well, and generally play on hunches. What I mean is that after playing the game for a while, you do get more an intuitive sense of the draws and timings, what things work and what don't.

I absolutely do not advocate taking the game really seriously - that would kill the fun in it for me as well.

Tom Lehmann wrote:
The next "arc" (over a year away) is a single, larger expansion that will take RFTG in a different direction, aiming for a complexity level just a bit higher than TGS. Perhaps it, or Dice for the Galaxy, will work better for you.


Yay!
 
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Rob Neuhaus
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Quote:
I must say, in hindsight, my ability to win Race declined sharply at the introduction of RvI


I doubt this had much to do with RvI itself. Without takeovers, the game is just fundamentally not that different than TGS. Tom says it's a lot more about overlapping six devs, and there might be some marginal increase in synergy among the sixes (put a bunch of new points into a somewhat crowded space and surely, the closest pairs will be closer), but it's not a fundamental change. Even in the base game, I loved playing Gal Fed/Trade League/New Economy. If you take a good TGS player and throw them into RvI without even seeing the deck, and I think you'll have a decent RvI player.

Are you sure that the people you were playing with didn't just get a lot better in the interim? It seems much more plausible to me.
 
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Wei-Hwa Huang
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Quote:
I've got Keldon's AI and I've watched the prestige leader win almost every time - I have to play a perfect (and I meant PERFECT) game to win without prestige.


I downloaded the AI for the first time a couple of weeks ago and have started to save my games against it. (2-player advanced, TBoW, takeovers on, no goals)

My current record is 29 wins, 19 losses. Here's how they broke down as far as prestige is concerned:

4 games: I get prestige lead and lose.
13 games: I get prestige lead and win.
12 games: AI gets prestige lead and wins.
13 games: AI gets prestige lead and loses.
4 games: Prestige fight is close.
2 game: No big Prestige fight.

So, out of the 42 games where there was a clear Prestige leader:

The Prestige leader won 60% of the games.
The AI got the Prestige lead in 60% of the games.

These two statements would seemingly imply that Prestige Leader is strong, BUT....

The AI lost 62% of the games.

So a better explanation might be that the AI likes going for Prestige Leader, whereas I tend to only go for it if it results in victory.
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Boots01 wrote:
I've got Keldon's AI and I've watched the prestige leader win almost every time - I have to play a perfect (and I meant PERFECT) game to win without prestige.

The AI is definitely not a good indicator of Prestige strength, *unless* you have plenty of experience at Race and could already beat the AI handily. The reason is, players new to the game get crushed by the AI for a long time, regardless of prestige. But the AI overvalues prestige, so it will seem like they won because of it every game, when in fact they would have won regardless.
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Guy Srinivasan
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onigame wrote:
(2-player advanced, TBoW, takeovers on, no goals)

As far as I can tell the AI for TBoW 2pa is significantly better with goals than without. IMO once you're familiar with how the AI plays, you should be able to win at least 80% against the 2pa, TBoW, takeovers on, no goals AI. Did you experience winning a lot more as you went on?

Edit: maybe this means I'm significantly worse with goals than without, but it feels more like the AI just wanders around more often without goals.
 
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GreedyAlgorithm wrote:
As far as I can tell the AI for TBoW 2pa is significantly better with goals than without.
[...]
it feels more like the AI just wanders around more often without goals.

Makes sense because AFAIK the AI is only trained with goals on.
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Wei-Hwa Huang
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GreedyAlgorithm wrote:
onigame wrote:
(2-player advanced, TBoW, takeovers on, no goals)

As far as I can tell the AI for TBoW 2pa is significantly better with goals than without. IMO once you're familiar with how the AI plays, you should be able to win at least 80% against the 2pa, TBoW, takeovers on, no goals AI. Did you experience winning a lot more as you went on?


Yes. I started with something like 5 losses in a row, but ended with
something like 7 wins in a row.

I'm now playing against it with goals on, record is 6 wins, 3 losses.
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Anton Klink
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when I first added TBoW to the base game and all other expansions, I already knew people were suspecting Prestige of being overpowered and potentially game-breaking. however my experience with it has been completely different and very positive. it has elevated cards for me to consider that I would not have considered before. playing cards just to get the initial prestige has taught me wonderful new strategies to actually use those cards for things beyond their initial prestige and that alone I think makes prestige a worthy addition to the game.

on the other hand even early prestige lead is not a guarantee of victory in the least. I would say the impact of prestige lead is more psychological than anything else. it can be disheartening to see an opponent get a victory point for "nothing" (as it seems) at the beginning of each round, but depending on how early he gains prestige lead and for how long the lead or the game lasts, it may amount to just 7-8 additional victory points and 2-3 extra cards, which is easy to counter with any of the multitude of strategies offered by the game.

all in all, I love how prestige adds another layer to the game, another aspect for some cards to consider and another partial path to victory, but I don't find it overpowered or unbalanced at all. I think the impact is largely psychological and will seem game-breaking only to those who are more easily intimidated. I personally would never play without it and this expansion makes an already perfect game even more perfect (yes I know, technically perfection can't be perfected upon, because then the initial state could no longer have been perfect, but I'm just saying:). thanks tom:)
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Mike Forrey
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UlyZed wrote:
It certainly doesn't turn it into Monopoly, and I for one will likely never go back to playing without it. For me, TBoW and Prestige actually balance all the mainline strategies much more evenly than the previous incarnations.

If you are a casual group, I would leave TBoW alone for now. It takes a bit longer to play and setup but mostly it is also completely unforgiving on players who don't have experience with how to win a lot in the previous incarnations. As a poster above said, it is a much more 'win now' game where trying to implement even the slightest inefficiency can be punished harshly.

For mine, the AI's obsession with Prestige is why I beat it more often than not. I've played well over 100 games with TBoW by now and it probably took me 15 or so before I didn't feel intimidated by a first turn PL grab.


I am going with Alex on this one. After playing with this expansion our group actually felt like the game has become better balanced for all the different strategies to win now.
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