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Game #24: Isla Margarita

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doho123
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Sorry to be jumping the gun a little bit. I'm supposed to be up for next week, but it turns out I'm going to be out of town, so I decided to put up the link for my game today.

If someone gets angry, I'm sure a moderator can take this message down and re-install it on Monday. I won't mind.

Of course, I suppose, everyone can just avoid the link until Monday, too.

http://home.comcast.net/~doho123/games/Margarita/index.htm

Torrent
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

It certainly looks like an interesting game. Shades of ElGrande and Citadels.

I have several initial comments. First I find it hard to visualize the board. I realize that it is in the form it is for the ability to print it out and play, but do you happen to have a smaller version just to get a feel of how the islands are connected to each other?

I also question the initial auction for the Prince. Is it really that powerful of a token to require the sacrifice of resources just to start with it? I kind of invision the initial holder bidding one and everyone else bidding nothing. I don't know how tight money becomes. I do see that it takes a full action to gain the prince, so maybe it doesn't really change hands that fast, so having it first means you may have it for a while.

Quote:
The are three terms that are used during this phase. "The most" indicates having the more of a certain item than all the other players; there cannot be a tie. "Majority" indicates having the highest total of a certain item amongst all the players; players can share the majority. "Monopoly" indicates that the player is the sole owner of a certain item; noone else owns any of that type.
How are the Most and Majority supposed to be different. In my mind the words are nearly interchangable. In declaring 'there cannot be a tie', do you mean that a Tie does not confer Majority status or there is some statistical thing that means there will be no ties. I think you mean the first.

The investment rules declare that you cannot invest in an island unless it has an empty bridge spot. What about ports? If there is an island that has all it's bridges, but no port can you still invest in order to build the port? Or is it a planning thing to want to build the ports earlier?

I wonder about a number of players effect. With 8 actions and 3 players, the likelyhood of the other guy taking your action is lower than with 6 players. And you really only have three choices, Invest Build or take Prince. Especially at 3 players each player can decide for either Invest or Build and be able to choose one of those actions, just with varying degrees of efficiency.

From what I gather in the first read through, the game will be a cyclic sort of thing where people will begin investing on islands and then try to get the cheap builder cards. It also seems like a seat order effect could occur, especially with the open choice of actions. If I grab the 3cost builder, the player to my left could go for a higher cost builder to try to build before I did. This is where I figure you are trying to build the tension in the game.

Have you had a chance to play it yet?

Andy

jwarrend
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

I've skimmed the rules, and think I have a rough sense how it works. I agree with Torrent, it's clearly inspired by El Grande and Citadels. That's certainly a good pedigree, so it's probably ok. It also reminds be a bit of "Kahuna" (which I haven't played).

I think the game sounds like a lot of fun; I like the idea of having to "invest" on islands and that bridges are built based on this investment. It seems like you can only use your own money, though; that would seem to make the first couple of turns entirely about investing, unless I'm missing something. That may not be a bad thing, but it seems like it could introduce a turn order effect -- the person who gets the Action Card that lets you invest the most in the first turn will be able to build the most in the 2nd turn. However, I guess since your money stays on the bridge it may not be a problem.

That leads to my first rules question -- is it 30 coins per player, or 6? 6 seems too restrictive, but 30 seems too loose; it seems like having to give up a coin to own a bridge should hinder you a bit (kind of like Carcassonne). (Not to mention that 30 glass stones per player = component cost overload!)

However, since having a bridge or port gets you a "secret goal" card, the earlier you get it, the better, so the more someone can build (and the sooner they can do it), the better.

Does the draft need to be Citadels-style? Couldn't you just lay out the nine cards and everyone takes one? Or do you think having knowledge of who chose what is too powerful for the earlier players?

One of my concerns about Citadels has always been that the person next to the King is in a powerful position, and this remains true if the king doesn't change. In your game, I guess there won't be much incentive for one player to hold the prince repeatedly, since that would be his only action. So, it probably won't be a problem.

I thought (and have found that I was correct!) that balancing 12 secret goals would be tough. You have 18! Yikes! Of course these are probably imbalanced, and of course you can playtest them to make them work ok. The fact that some players will end up with more than others may be a concern; I'm not sure.

I would say from experience that goals based on the game end configuration don't really work in practice. For example, "+15 points if you end the game as the Prince". There's a sense in which you can actively pursue this, but it would mean basically spending all of your last few turns taking the Prince to guarantee that you could get the Prince at the game end. Other than this, it's a big crapshot. I understand that it's a big enough reward that it's worth pursuing, but do you really want a mechanic that encourages people to take no "real" actions for a significant portion of the game? And I think many of your goal cards will reveal themselves to be too prone to being swamped in the fluctuating nature of the game configuration. By all means try it and see, but my experience from the Disciples is that you need to make the goals as related to the game mechanics as possible, and as achieveable by standard turn actions as possible. If you can't actively work toward a goal, it's not that fair.

I, too, would like to see the whole board. For example, are there islands with more than one "investment circle"? Otherwise, the rule about "coin majority" seems odd; wouldn't any player who had a coin on the island inherently have "coin majority"? (since you can't place on a circle with coins already on it...)

I am really not a big fan of "bidding for start player", particularly in an untested game. Don't throw that in unless you need it, and even then only if it's an absolute necessity. These kinds of things just add a big learning curve to the game and I think there are better ways to balance turn order than to insist that the players balance it for you via a bid.

Overall, it sounds solid -- I really like games with restricted action selection a la Wallenstein or Puerto Rico, and I think this one sounds simple and clean. I am worried a bit about the goal cards, but I am sure you'll be able to balance those with playtesting. The game looks great; you could definitely sell it in the current state that it's in. I would definitely play it if it was on the store shelf. Hope that I'll get that chance! Good luck!

-Jeff

Torrent
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

I'm reacting to some of Jeff's comments, with the intent that Doho will straighten us both out with the proper answers when he gets back (I believe the initial post mentioned some time out of town).

It was my impression that the Coin Circle is only used for Initial Investment each turn. There is a section saying that the Prince moves all the coins from the Investment Circle into a Holding Area on the Island. I woudl expect that the holding area could then have differing numbers of coins from various players.
This brings up a thought in my mind. If you give the same number of points for a Bridge monopoly as for a Coin Monopoly, couldn't I almost win by only investing and never building. With other's building that reduces the number of coins on the islands, so if I don't ever build I can almost assuredly get quite a few monopolies.

My view of the card draft IS that it is just like having 9 cards. In the sidebar(probably not a good place for it), it says the choices are open and public.
Secondly I don't think you have to take the Prince Action card to remain the Prince, only to keep others from taking it. I'm not sure how many rounds this game would take, but it seems that having to use a full action to grab the Prince might not be worth it, for just the 1 coin discount.

The secret goals are certainly interesting. Especially in the ability for the player to choose one instead of randomly draw one. That first person to build a bridge has some real power. Especially as the points per card are different, especially with the Pirate Cards not being points but potentials. Card 17 seems almost too powerful with this PlayerChoice mechanic. What would be the sense in NOT taking it for your first bridge, especially as the other 3 are also 'of your choice'. Not that I am saying this is at all bad, but timing is going to be a big element of this game.

I think I may go back on my earlier post. Just looking at it having that Prince first may very well be a big deal. First turn, If I as Prince take the Action 5 (4 coins to one island), I can invest on an island of more or less my choice. Since no one else has money they will all pick investment or the Prince action. Since the game is all about having money where it matters, it seems unlikely for someone to fall one round behind in investing right at the beginning to take the Prince. The second most likely choice of actions is Action 6 (4 coins on Two islands, dictating whihc bridge they want to build. Followed by the 3 coin investments on one or two islands. Next turn, I have two ( or three if I am still the Prince) that would net me a bridge. I can then pick the Commerce 17 and be ready to grab three cards when I get my next bridge. So I do think that firstplayer as Prince is very powerful, however I am still not sure the auction is the proper way to go about adjusting for that.

Andy

Anonymous
Game #24: Isla Margarita

One concern I have is in regard to the holding area "elsewhere on the island". Judging from the size of the investment circles, there isn't enough space on the islands to have a holding area. Now, if the coin markers are actual coins (say, cardboard circles), they can easily be stacked next to the investment circle (although even then, some of those islands look pretty dang small!), but if they are glass beads...well, you must have one helluva skill at balancing!

One possible solution would be to have an off-map holding pool with 9 squares representing each island. At the end of each round, coins are moved from the investment circles to their respective squares. I think that would be an easier way to keep them straight without adding too much to the component costs (but, not having published a game, what do I know?). If you really wanted to get fancy you could use bins, say a plastic tray with molded bins...but I get ahead of myself! :wink:

DarkDream
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Interesting Game

Doho,

I am fairly impressed by this game. I think you will need to maybe cut down on the amount of commerce cards as too many possibly conflicting goals would lead to frustrating chaos for the players.

Before I get in to some more impressions, let me ask some questions about the rules. My first question has to do with:

Quote:
Also, the Prince moves all investment coins from the island circles into the 'common pool' of coins elsewhere on the island. This will allow investments to begin fresh on the next turn.

This is a little bit ambiguous. What exactly is the "common pool"? How about having for each island a "common pool" circle for the placement of the coins?

I don't think you have any rules to handle the situation if a player runs out of coins. With the initial bidding for the Prince, it appears that the player will loose permanently that many coins. What happends if the player bids 30 coins to get the Prince? That player then can not do anything. Also what happends if a player ends up using up all his coins for investments and cannot build any bridges because his investments are so spread out that he or she does not have 3 coins between 2 islands (a possible scenario if the person pays a lot to get the Prince to start up with)?

I think the initial bid for the Prince will have to be changed.

When I think about it, I think the game in its current form may be a bit broken. Right now because the ports are worth so many points, it is going to be a race to get the ports. I'm not really clear on your map, but if there is enough ports then each player will get one with no competition between them. If there are fewer ports than players, then there will be a battle, but the beginning Prince I think will have a fairly significant advantage. The problem with this is that it appears that the most exciting element has been eliminated. Usually, you want to leave something like this to the end. Maybe, when all bridges have been built on an island, then players can try to get the port.

Another point I want to make, is that I can't imagine players will really ever get bridge or money monopolies. As a monopoly can easily be eliminated by one coin or bridge, other players will definitely thwart others from getting the point amount. Right now a coin majority and a bridge majority are worth the same amount of points. The problem with this is that the coin majority is going to be seen as better, because when you build a bridge you must remove coins from the island to build it. As such, a player who simply invests coins around the islands will have an advantage. If other players build bridges, the investing player will be happy with this as the player will decrease the amount of coins on the island (thus greatly increasing his chance of having a coin majority). When that player gets close to building maybe a bridge monopoly, the investing player simply builds a bridge to thwart him.

The point is if you build a bridge you decrease your chances of building more bridges and getting coin majorities because you've decreased your overall coin amount for the island you built your bridge on. Not only that, because you must use one of your coins to place on a built bridge -- it is then essentially gone -- you are decreasing your chances overall on *all* islands. You get your coins back to invest, but all the other investors have had time to do so, that you will be at a disadvantage.

Granted with the bridges you may get a commerce card, but there are so many that may conflict with each other you are better off having at the most 2-3 cards. The investing player would get this ammount by only building a bridge when forced to. If all the players figure this strategy out, then no one will want to build bridges taking away the essential theme of the game.

Besides this, I like the idea of a tough competition of building things and having various ways of gaining victory points. The secret commerce cards definitely add to the game. The conflict central in knowing when to invest build and so on will add a definite strategic layer to it. I think all the ideas are there, it just may need to be tweaked to get the intended result.

--DarkDream

Anonymous
Game #24: Isla Margarita

I am certianly inspired to play by the initial caption associated with the game, but I have some confusion while reading the rules about buying bridges and investing. It seems to me after a first read-trhough of the rules that you can only invest on an island that is connected to a bridge, and you can only build bridges connecting islands that are invested in. This would give an effect of an impossible game.

I am sure I am missing something though

andresen
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

DrMayhem wrote:
I am certianly inspired to play by the initial caption associated with the game, but I have some confusion while reading the rules about buying bridges and investing. It seems to me after a first read-trhough of the rules that you can only invest on an island that is connected to a bridge, and you can only build bridges connecting islands that are invested in. This would give an effect of an impossible game.

I am sure I am missing something though

According to the rules you may invest on an island if there is at least one empty bridge space connecting to that island. There is no requirement that there must be a bridge already connected to it.

- Martin

sedjtroll
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

Comments on cards:

Typo in Port Builder card- it says it makes building BRIDGES cheaper (!)

Card #17: Instaed of collecting 1 Commerce card after building a bridge, discard this card and collect 3.... 3 what? 3 Commerce cards? 3 Coins?

Comments on to the rules to follow (when I'm not faling asleep)

- Seth

doho123
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

Ok, I'll try and answer the questions as I see them (so there might be some overlap from later posts) before the baby wakes up.

--I have not played this yet. This is merely a first draft.

--It's interesting that after reading my typed rules over three times that I STILL didn't catch the typos. NUTZ!

---I have played Citadels once, never El Grande. Action selection is somewhat influenced by Citadels.

--(investing versus bridge spaces) Once all bridges are filled on an island, you cannot invest money on that island. However, you may still use any funds that you still have on the island to purchase a Port, if there is no Port on the island.

--The Prince is a powerful card, in that it it makes everything cheaper to buld, and the player who has it gets first crack at the Action Cards. Also, once a player becomes the Prince, he stays as the Prince until someone claims the Prince card. So, if a player keeps control over the Prince card for a few round, he or she may use the -1 cost on each round to build. The Bridge/Port builder cards act the same way; once in play, they arte currently always active on one player.

--Yes, the draft can simply be "lay out the cards" and have the players select them.

--The coin circle on an island is merely a place to indicate that an island has been invested in on this round. After the round, all coins are shifted from the coin circle to a common group of coins that have been previously invested on that island, otherwise known as the 'common pool.' So while a player may have invested one coin on an island from a previous round, anouther player can take majority by investing 2 coins on that island on the next round.

--Obviously, the map would need to be resized accordingly. I've thought of a side board to accomodate this, but I think you really need to see the investment possibilities versus other stuff on the board. Probably stackable cardboard coins would be better than glass beads; I just figured that beads are a little more apparent to print-it-yourself players.

--Bidding for the Prince does indeed lose that amount of coins.

(uh ho, baby awake)

andresen
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

doho123 wrote:
--The Prince is a powerful card, in that it it makes everything cheaper to buld, and the player who has it gets first crack at the Action Cards. Also, once a player becomes the Prince, he stays as the Prince until someone claims the Prince card. So, if a player keeps control over the Prince card for a few round, he or she may use the -1 cost on each round to build. The Bridge/Port builder cards act the same way; once in play, they arte currently always active on one player.

I haven't playtested the game, however it seems to me that the Prince card is much more powerful with 3 players than with 6 players.

As I see it, on the first turn of the game there is no point in picking a Build Card, as you have not invested on any islands yet. As there are only 5 Investing Cards, in a 6 player game one of the players will have to select either a Building Card or the Prince Card - which will of course be the Prince Card. Thus there is really no point in bidding for the Prince card as there is no chance that you will keep it beyond the first round. The only benefit it provides in the first round is the opportunity to pick up a good investing card - nothing else.

However, in a 3 player game, there is a much greater chance of keeping the Prince card for several rounds beyond the first round. Which might make the Prince card more useful in the beginning.

To sum up, as I see it, the bidding for the Prince card is only really useful for low number of players. This is definitely something that should be looked into.

- Martin

doho123
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

OK, back to response:

----For those who don't want to take the time to printout and cut-n-paste, here's a jpg of the whole board:

http://home.comcast.net/~doho123/games/Margarita/wholeboard.jpg

--- I'm not TOO concerned with the imbalance of the commerce cards (aside from the 3 for 2 card, and possibly the Pirates). I consider them to be much like the various buildings in PR; some are going to be more desirable than others; and even more or less desirable depending on what you are doing. I figure that playtesting will hopefully correct any one or two card from being too overtly useful, like the aforementioned cards. And again, I don't really mind the crapshoot cards, just as long as they 'payout' according to their risk/reward.

--(Investing versus building) Even though the coin majority pays the same as the bridge majorities, I'm fairly sure that a player cannot win by just investing. For the sake of example, assume a two-player game; one player ONLY invests, while the other player always builds when given a chance. One player will win the coin majority on every island, while the other player wins the bridge majority on every island, rendering those points equal. The bridge player will also have points given to him by the various Commerce cards that he aquired for bridge building; the other player will have no bonuses. Also, the birdge player can cycle his limited amount of coins for other things (port building, adding a single coin to each to ensure that the investing player does not get the added bonus of being the monopoly investor) while the bridge builder will get the added bonus of being the monopoly bridge builder.

As more players are added, the dynamics of this will change, again, like PR; where the strategy of the game changes somewhat based on the amount of player playing, which is fine.

--(race for Ports) each island can only have one port. Part of the checks and balances of the ports and bridges is that the Pirate cards can steal Ports at the end of the game. Only buying ports, without buying bridges to obtain pirate cards to defend against pirates would be a risky proposition.

doho123
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

Revisiting Isla Margarita....

Since this site got hacked when I put IM up, there wasn't much feedback on the game, and I've let it linger for awhile due to baby issues, and work issues...but now it looks like I'll be able to start playtesting again, I've decided that I should revisit an old game of mine that I put here, and re-work it for a real playtest. Instead of boring everyone with the daily details, I've set up a blogs recently of my game exploits (mostly right now of Hold 'em Poker, since I'm trying to get my head around that for work). Anyway, I guess this log is where I keep talking about my updates (and I've got another game in the works which I'll blogging about, slowly). Feel free to comment there on any changes I've made, or think I should make.

Eventually, when I've got the next full pass of everything, I'll repost here.

http://www.livejournal.com/users/betlikeduncan/

doho123
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

For those who are interested, I've updated the rules a little bit.

http://home.comcast.net/~doho123/games/Margarita/index.htm

sedjtroll
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

doho123 wrote:
For those who are interested, I've updated the rules a little bit.

Thanks for posting this, I liked the idea of it when I saw it before and was interested to see where it went. This is one I'd actually like to playtest as I tink my friends might like it.

I did notice some errors in your rules though. For example, in the bridge building section it says a Bridge Builder card gives you a discount of 2, and the Prince card gives you a discount of 1, and having both gives you a discount of 2. I suspect it's supposed to be a discount of 1 for either of those cards, and a total of 2 if you have both (in other words the bonuses stack).

Below that, in the Port section the bonuses are 1 for the Port Builder card and 1 for Prince, and they appear to stack, so that would be consistant.

Also in the port section, when describing Pirate Ports and Regular ports, you've referred to both as Pirate Ports. I suspect that the first paragraph (no commerce card, higher VP) is actually referring to a Regular port, since in the next paragraph you talk about liberating and turning into a regular port (plus the score being in a circle vs a flag was a hint).

Some questions:
Regarding Investment circles and clearing them out each round- do the 'cleared out' coins still count as if they were in the investment circle when it comes to building? If I have 3 coins on an island, and they carry over to the next round (moved out of circle), and I invest 2 more then build a 5-cost port, is that legal?

Also, is it accurate to say that the ONLY coins that can be spent on building are the ones on the island, none can be added from you bank, right?

Overall well done. I think I like the additions- especially the King stuff- moving him around to score points.

Is there someplace I can get updated files for the board and stuff (you had sent me or directed me to some before, but I don't know if they've been changed).

- Seth

doho123
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

Thanks for catching some of that stuff, tomorrow at lunch I will have to make some changes to accomodate these questions.

Prince card only reduces the cost of building anything by 1. Port Builder reduces Port by 1, and Bridge Builder reduces bridges by 2. However, the Bridge Builder=2 was a change from earlier because there was some concern about ports being over bearing. Now, with the addition of cheapy Pirate Ports, I might be pushing the Bridge Builder back to 1.

Yes, investment circles are just indicators so only one island gets invested per turn. At the end of the round, those coins still stay on the island for future use (just not in the Investment Circle). I will need to clarify that some more, me thinks.

Yes, you can only build things using coins on the board, not from your bank.

The new files are linked to the webpage:
http://home.comcast.net/~doho123/games/Margarita/index.htm
near the top.

sedjtroll
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

doho123 wrote:
Prince card only reduces the cost of building anything by 1. Port Builder reduces Port by 1, and Bridge Builder reduces bridges by 2.

So does this mean that if you have both you get a discount of 3?
Your examples tend to cover the simple cases, but not the more complex cases (across the board).

I'll check out the link, thanks for posting it.

[EDIT: some of your cards don't match the descriptions in the rules (e.g. Port Builder at the end of the game- 10vp or 15?)]

- Seth

doho123
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

Yes, you get the discount for BOTH cards. So if you have the Bridge Builder and the Prince cards, you get the discount for both.

sedjtroll
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

Another question or two... during the Pirate round, how many times can you steal or attack a port? If I have 3 Pirate cards and there are three available ports, can I claim them all? If I have 4 Pirate cards can I attack 2 of my opponents' ports?

Also, the card that lets you draw 3 commerce cards- is that 3 at random, or do you select 3 from the stacks? Do they all come from the same stack? Must they? Can they?

- Seth

sedjtroll
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Game #24: Isla Margarita

So I put together a prototype of Isla Margarita. Ever since I fiest saw it I thought it looked like one I'd like to try. So I plotted out the board on the plotter I have at work and spray mounted it to foam core, printed out the cards and counters, laminated one side, and stuck theo ther to chipboard (so they're more like the PR tiles than cards). The bridges, ports, and crown tiles are laminated on both sides with a layer of chipboard in the middle. I used colored cubes (replacement cubes for Age of Empires or whatever that were on sale online) for coins. All in all the proto came out pretty good.

I solo-played a 4 player game to see how it went. I tried to adopt a different strategy for each player and tried to more or less stick to that strategy- though they overlapped a bit from player to player.

The final scores were:
Blue Player: 64
Green Player: 66
Yellow Player: 48
Red Player: 116

I noticed that scoring took a lot of work. I realize that I was counting 4 people's scores and in a real game you'd probably only count your own... but you should be able to check your opponents' math if you want, especially if they beat you in a close game.

Scoring comes from looking at each of 9 islands and seeing who has (a) the most bridges on it, (b) the most coins on it, and (c) the port on the island. You also score for Crown tiles collected during the game. And finally you score bonus points for a number of 'secret goals' which are drawn over the course of the game- building a bridge or a pirate port allows you to choose a Commerce card out of a subset of the deck, many of which have a secret goal or bonus scoring conditions on them.

There are so many different hidden scoring conditions that it takes a long time to figure your score. Also, there's no good way of figuring out which secret goal an opponent is going for if you want to thwart him. Actually, that's not true- you can tell, but there's so many you would have to know, and I imagine the goals are not well balanced.

It's really difficult (if indeed possible) to know if you are even close to winning this game, due to all the scoring being hidden (well, much of it). I think this is a really good idea, and I think it works in this game, I just think there could be fewer, better balanced goals, I think they should be drawn randomly rather than players picking which card hey get, and I think some of them should be removed from the game after shuffling so you don't know for sure that some player is trying to, say, control as many ports as possible.

Thematic Consonance:
This game is like german games with respect to thematic consonance. That is to say that the theme really has little to do with the mechanics and vice versa. This is perfectly OK if you ask me... the main mechanics in theis game are as follows:
Each turn you either invest money into different islands on the board, or you spend the money you've already invested to build a bridge or port. Building bridges or ports allows you to draw a card which will do something for you later, usually they give you extra scoring conditions.

The way you determine which action you will do is by selecting it from one of the action cads when it's your turn to do so. Choosing actions is secret and in turn (like Citadels). The action cards also indicate the turn order, with better actions (or more cost efficient ones) going later in the turn. I think this is a very clever idea that amounts to having to decide to save money or beat someone to the punch. I found that sometimes I had nothing to worry about so I chose the cheapest option when building, while at other times it was ineresting because I needed to go earlier in the turn order or risk losing my play. I think the actions are pretty well thought out, though they might still need some tweaking to make them less similar to each other or something.

A mechanic which I don't recall being in there the first time I read abuot this game was the King markers. There are 2 markers that begin the game on Isla Margarita and move across newly created bridges. As you move the markers from island to island (by building bridges) you collect the Crown tile fo the island. Thematically I don't understand this but mechanically I very much liked it.

It appeared to me that one of the keys to the game is having a good base of resources on the board at all times, so whenever convenient you can build a bridge or port without worrying about having money in the right place. It's advantageous to have money on the board anyway, as that's one of the scoring conditions at the end.

Pirates:
Another thing that looked like a recent addition is a presence of pirates in the game. To begin with, when you build a port you can build a regular port or a Pirate port. Cost is the same, but regulr ports are worth a ot more points while Pirate ports allow you to draw a card (which in turn could be worth a lot more points). There are some cards related to pirate ports, and when a King pawn moves onto an island with a pirate port, the port is liberated and becomes a regular one.

While I like the liberating idea (build the pirate port for the commerce card, then try and get the king to move to hat island for more points), I think the pirates feel pretty out of place in this game. The low-vs-high scoring ports could be handled by the location of the king instead, if you build a port where a King is located, then it's the 'better' one and will score more later, but if the king is not present then you get a Commerce card. In this way the good part aboutt his mechanic could stay intact.

The pirates also relate to a penultimate round after the game is over but before the scoring occurs. In this Pirate round, players play Pirate! cards (Commerce cards that say "Pirate!" on them) to claim unoccupied ports, or play 2 of them to overtake another player's port (they can defend itby discarding a Pirate card of their own). There are some secret goal cards that relate to the pirate round as well. I think the game could do without this whole pirate interaction alltogether.

I don't think the commerce cards need to be more scoring opportunities. I believe the author's intention was to allow players to have a secret goal, and give them some choice as to what it would be (so they can play whatever startegy they like). I think the game would be better served with Commerce cards that let you bend the rules- discounts on buildings, take the Prince card (which there seems to be no reason to spend a turn doing otherwise, unless you get the card that gives you the bonus for being the Prince), add money to your bank, Tax Collector (when anyone builds a bridge they put a $ on Tax Collector- This is one of the commerce cards already), Invest extra $ this turn, etc.

Maybe the Become the Prince action should also allow you a card draw? There's usually no reason that I saw to want to skip your turn just so you could choose first next round. The bidding for the right to be the prince is probably a good idea, as that player basically gets to choose their action first for most of the game.

So to sum up, I like the idea behind the mechanics a lot. I think the game has some extra fat that could be trimmed off, and some of the good stuff could be polished. But it was interesting to see how investing and building worked and how you really have to keep money on the board.

Doho, let me know what you think of my assessment and PM me if you want to discuss your game further.

sedjtroll
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Re: Interesting Game

Re-reading this thread because I am interested in the game and wanted to think about it again...

DarkDream wrote:
Another point I want to make, is that I can't imagine players will really ever get bridge or money monopolies. As a monopoly can easily be eliminated by one coin or bridge, other players will definitely thwart others from getting the point amount.

I think this is fine. If you manage a Monopoly, you get a big reward. If nooe ever does, then so be it.

Quote:
Right now a coin majority and a bridge majority are worth the same amount of points. The problem with this is that the coin majority is going to be seen as better, because when you build a bridge you must remove coins from the island to build it. As such, a player who simply invests coins around the islands will have an advantage.

This was the second post to say this same thing. I'd like to point out that if you simply invest on all the islands, and I build bridges, I get the bridge majority score and you get the Coin majority score - and we're even... I don't see how that makes Investing better than building.

- Seth

sedjtroll
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Scoring for 1st, 2nd, 3rd

One major way in which Isla Margarita differs from other Area Control games which are similar is this: In Isla Margarita you ONLY get credit for having more influence in an island - never for having second most. If you have the most (or tied for the most) bridges or money (or ports, since 1 port is the most you can have), then you score. Otherwise you get nothing.

In games like El Grande, a good strategy is to have presence in lots of places, even if you're not in 1st place in them, because you score for 1st, 2nd, and sometimes 3rd place. This goes for Louis XIV to an extent as well - the player with majority on the boards gets a bonus, but in most cases the pther players don't get nothing.

I don't know if it's good or bad to deviate from that model. The reason I thought of it was because people had mentioned that simply investing might be strictly better than building bridges. I realize by Bridge Building and acquisition of commerce cards players will be getting a bonus and that's probably enough incentive to build bridges (especially considering the points for bridges). However if there were scoring for 2nd place, then that would be another obvious reason simply investing wouldn't be enough. The Bridge Builder would get bridge points instead of island points, but then they'd get 2nd place island points anyway.

The more I think about this, the more I think it's not necesary to offer scoring for 2nd place. I just wondered if that's something you considered or not.

- Seth

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