Just got my copy of the new Sierra Madre, I know Not Sure did as well. This game looks fucking amazing but is also completely incomprehensible on first glance. I l was looking at these rules and I just put them back down and was like, "I'm going to need an hour or two with the TV off to straight up study these" to make sense of them. Unlike Phil's rules, I don't find Cole Wehrle's rules organized by an insane person, so at least that is nice.
So the basics are so *my shit* I cannot even tell you. Early returns suggest it's a semi-coop with no "everyone fails" point---instead there's always a winner but for anyone to make any money they all have to cooperate. All players play families trying enrich themselves out of the coffers the British East India Company. The Company's operations are determined by whomever holds the various offices of the Company---so if you hold a particular office that determines operations in a particular region, you get to decide policy in the region. Or an executive office that decides shipbuilding for the company, you make shipbuilding decisions. So it's all about jockeying for offices, doing just enough good for the company to make *yourself* rich with Company money, while India itself goes through booms, busts and rebellions you have to ride out. But tanking the company is also really important and, at some point, the East India Company will have been immoral and irresponsible enough for long enough that the British government will take it over.
Anyway. Man. Curious to see how this thing plays out. These types of games make me want a real game group of local friends so bad.
I was going to start this thread, if only because I accidentally co-opted cranberries' misnamed Root thread with John Company talk.
At least we'll have a place to come back to. There's no Vassal module as yet, although with the potential for heavy negotiation at almost any time I'm thinking this isn't going to do async very well at all. I'm not even looking at it (beyond checking components and a riffle through the rules) for at least a week die to other comittments, then I'm interested to see how it works.
Couple of observations having just read the rules and now mostly understanding them:
1) The game is very hierarchical, pushing it toward more 18XX business simulation than like free-form Archipelago semi-coop or something like that. That's because the ship everyone is riding to make money for their family, the East India Company, is organized very hierarchically. The company top position is so powerful, at first glance---he fills ALL high level positions at his discretion AND he gains all company revenue centrally, which he then distributes to the various positions. That gives him a tremendous amount of power and a lot of say and investment in how the company does. Of course, he's voted in by the majority of shareholders (players who bought shares), so...
2) Many of the ways to make individual families money (the money that wins you the game eventually by letting you as the player buy manors, high level positions in governments when your dudes retire, etc) are, in fact, about attaching to the company like a leech and getting it to buy from you. So dumping resources into factories, ships, captains, officers, etc are family decisions that the *company* may end up having to use and paying out at least some money to the family directly. Similarly, if you give the company "officers" the players supplying them get paid back quite a bit if there's a successful war or conquest using those officers, etc.
Played a turn solo this morning. Interesting doesn't even begin to cover it. I don't think this is going to have as serious a problem that semi coops can have with some groups re: fragility for a number of reasons. Some rule tips:
1) Captains and officers don't enter the actual boxes they'll be used in until the refresh phase at the end of the turn. I played it wrong.
2) Indian states dominate one another and form into empires and conglomerations. I didn't understand this because it's tucked away in a definition near the beginning. So the setup picture has the Indian state cards set up in relation to one another for a reason. It won't be clear how relevant this is until the Indian events phase. 3) I'm pretty sure the rules imply you can only do one campaign, trade opening, and sail per president. That wasn't obvious to me until I got to the turn when it made more sense.
4) Don't forget when Indian states do a successful conquest or another thing that the elephant moves to another card that is not necessarily the next numbered one. Easy rule to miss.
Also, re: something Paul said, the back of the board isn't a simpler game but rather a very different game that supposed the company/monopoly never formed.
I just soloed this one for four turns with 3 players. This game is fucking SINISTER. I had one player buy up factories and shipyards at home and then otherwise give almost no help to the company while the others tried to make money the honest British way---steal money, force open markets, and kill the locals. It is a dastardly strategy because the "home" player becomes very powerful in the UK during in the political choices and they make money as long as they develop their shipyards and factories to be cheap like the company needs---the company *has* to buy from the them usually because they have to buy the cheapest price good on the market. They won 3-2 vs. one of the other families. The Company... did not do well.
On the other hand, the only way they can get VPs is through the manors they buy as the other players will not appoint them to any positions---and VPs outside of manors are gotten through retiring from a prestigious company position *and* money and they convert to VPs at a much more advantageous rate. There's a ton of shit in the game that is not victory point producing that is important but ultimately will give you nothing at game end that helps you win.
Also, I just listened to this and it was interesting. I listened to a couple other ludology eps on my long drive and enjoyed them, though I must admit a subtitle for the show could just be a picture of Geoff saying "Gil, could you be more specific with that praise or criticism?" ;)