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Archipelago - any tips?

I recently bought Archipelago because it looked like something my group would enjoy, but I (and the group) seem to struggle to find the fun from the game. Maybe we're missing something, anyone else experienced this?

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5 months ago

Archipelago is one of my favourites. I don't know how you played it (would be interested to know) but the only time I have seen it fall flat is when the group approached it like a straight Euro/economic game i.e. everyone was just trying to gather all their own resources and complete their own projects under their own power. When played like that it is a fairly inelegant action selection/resource gathering game. However, I believe that is intentional on the designers part as what I think it plans to encourage you to do is negotiate and trade with the other players as this leads to much more efiicent play (but obviously you are each trying to get the beset deal). Because it is such a broad game, there is scope to make not just straight trades for goods, but also agreements about use of land (especially once towns come into play), trading with the market on behalf of someone using ports/markets (while getting a cut yourself), embargoing someone who you believe might be a traitor, trading for other players secret objectives etc. We have had loans being given out, alliances formed, and all the negotiation over who is going to sort out each crisis (and at what cost). That for me is where this game really comes alive. 

However, that really fits with what my group of friends likes in a game: discussion and stuff happening 'above' the table. If that isn't how you like to play I can well imagine this game not really popping for ou as there are much better 'pure' Euro games out there that are more multiplayer solitaire in design.

Would really like to hear more about what you felt was lacking.

5 months ago

Maybe just because we didn't play long enough to 'get good' or we just did something wrong in the rules, it just felt like each crisis put one of us (or all of us) back to square one, as we lost any resource we'd been collecting just to keep the people who were collecting those same resources happy.

Usually my group is really good at above table communication, and working together to overcome difficulties, but it didn't feel like the game lasted long enough to allow real relationships to develop over it.

I'll be sure to give it a few more goes though, really want to like this game.

5 months ago

Hmmm, I wonder if you got too many people too fast, as usually solving a crisis early on onky takes maybe 3-4 resources between the whole group (which you'll probably have just from exploring). And often you can use the resources from the domestic market to solve it partially.

I hope future games go better for you!

Premium User5 months ago

I think it is really group dependent.  My group also didn't really enjoy it.  

A couple of reasons why:

  1. It seemed to be done just as you got going.  We tried every length of game and it always felt like it was ending too early.
  2. Our group wasn't great at the semi-cooperative thing.  Some people would just truck ahead expanding as fast as they coiuld.  If other people tried to slow down to prevent a rebellion they would just end up losing in the end.  

We tried hard to like it.  It was the first realy modern designer game I ever bought so I wanted to like it but in the end I sold it as the group just wasn't in to it.

For us I think some more structure would have worked better.  Some way to codify the semi-coop nature or a way to limit expansion so the player doing it suffered more than the rest.  Not sure exactly what would be needed but it just wasn't quite there.

5 months ago

Yeah, I can totally see that happening, it is certainly one that has benefitted from multiple plays for us. For example, that the game ends too early (I think the longest game varient is the best) is a factor that means you have to always try and be in the running, this means people can't just focus on building an engine and sweep the game at the end (which is my defult play-style) you have to be constantly watching and responding to your opponents: if person A builds a church is it because she just wants to protect her workers or is it her objective? If it's the second then i should build a church too to ensure I score if the game ends soon etc. I think it is a game that allows you to approach it several ways but in a given game will only reward some of them, as opposed to a lot of games that are much more generous and give you points for everything (I don't think either of these is superior to the other, just that the first one is less common)

On your second point, this is something that we found becomes less of an issue once players realise that the most efficient way to play is through a lot of trading. As such we would basically end up sanctioning players who caused a lot of unrest: players would trade with you or would build towns in your areas to limit your resource gathering potential. This is basically the same way you stop the 'sympathiser' (traitor) by just blocking them out of the game as much as possible so they have less influence. But again these aren;t mechanics that are baked into the game, it all comes from the players. It's part of why I love the game but I can totally see it being less fun for other people.

Premium User5 months ago

I can totally see a group getting in to it and making it work after a few plays. I didn't see our group making that jump but we also have a ton of different games to play.  It's nice in some ways but we also quickly drop games that don't click instead of giving them a chance. So pluses and minuses like everything. 

5 months ago

Totally makes sense. I mean, there are so many good games out there, if one isn't working for you and you can't see it working for your group then I don't blame you for moving on

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