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Short Cut to Remote Gaming Forum (29 Aug 2020)

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John Company

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12 Oct 2019 10:55 - 12 Oct 2019 10:59 #302420 by JoelCFC25
Replied by JoelCFC25 on topic John Company
Sorry to pump the brakes, I think I didn't accurately convey the state of things in my BGG post. I wasn't intending to indicate it's actually ready for play, my apologies. I looked at the deck construction method for the campaign game and of course it's fussy in a way that makes it very obnoxious to support in VASSAL.

I was mostly looking to see if people think pieces can be adequately manipulated, money and VPs accounted for, stuff like that. What isn't in scope at this point: no fixed number of cubes (easy to do at the end), no scenarios built (always needs to be the last thing for VASSAL reasons), and deck management (pulling out/adding in Monopoly cards).

You very likely *could* play the Early Game, it's just going to take some futzing to prep for it.
Last edit: 12 Oct 2019 10:59 by JoelCFC25.

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12 Oct 2019 13:18 - 12 Oct 2019 13:19 #302422 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic John Company
My bad, my bad, Joel.

I can take a look at that stuff, I'm familiar enough with the rules of the game.
Last edit: 12 Oct 2019 13:19 by Gary Sax.

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15 Oct 2019 04:34 #302471 by mc
Replied by mc on topic John Company
Having now read the rules and watched that heavy cardboard playthrough...

WIthout any real knowledge of how you construct Vassal modules - but having played a few - the manipulation of cubes and money and ships and goods would all be good, and assuming the deck construction could get done, that part would be okay, I think?

But man, that would be an ask to play PBEM with all the negotiation and bribery, wouldn't it. It would have to take months!

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15 Oct 2019 11:40 #302490 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic John Company
Yeah, that'd be the concern. I think you'd have to play it much more straight euro with less negotiation than it probably wants.

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15 Oct 2019 15:44 #302499 by mc
Replied by mc on topic John Company
Perhaps a whip round, silent offer type thing? Everyone gets one shot, but that would be it?

Otherwise, just accept the reality that you are living it out closer to real time.

Wehrle talked about people playing it straight in the video but I think that would be kind of.... boring.

Of course playing it live with Skype or something would be the solution (and the intent here I assume).
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03 Nov 2019 10:30 - 03 Nov 2019 10:33 #303065 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic John Company
https://twitter.com/colewehrle/status/1191008675990781952?s=20

The board is gorgeous and not super unintuitive, I'm curious if this will be a big improvement.
Last edit: 03 Nov 2019 10:33 by Gary Sax.

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03 Nov 2019 19:39 #303070 by Msample
Replied by Msample on topic John Company
For new players I could see it bring easier but if you already know the game I suspect not.

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23 Jan 2020 11:33 #306534 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic John Company
www.boardgamegeek.com/article/33866307#33866307

Want to call attention to this bananas session report if you've played before. I didn't even know the system could do this (15+ armies??? Actually conquering the Mughal Empire?).

This and Sidereal are definitely top toad at the moment.
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22 Apr 2020 00:24 #309496 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic John Company
I played a solo game to refamiliarize myself with the game. Fun.

It's a frail game, but I'm not so sure there's such a big incentive to collapse the company immediately... it just kind of looks like there might be from the outside. Obviously I'm not expert, but I think technically the incentive is there to try to keep the ship running if the game is somewhat close. I think it's just super unforgiving and the margins are very thin---a single VP is a titanic prize. I think Wehrle is asking a lot of players in terms of their mental map of game incentives, particularly to internalize the massive advantage that players have by using the company to make money and to gain points. You might say, yes, but there are manors... but it takes up your entire family action and where did you get the money in the first place if not from the Company?

It is definitely not immediately obvious that your best bet is to ride the company to points unless you are significantly ahead.
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22 Apr 2020 15:47 #309545 by Msample
Replied by Msample on topic John Company
Deciding whether to crash the company is a pretty hard thing to grasp at times . A lot depends on whether you have enough cash to go into business for yourself. One game I ended up winning when there were very few company execs; I bought two more thus not only ensuring the presidency when my CEO retired, but pumping in just enough cash to keep the company afloat . Meanwhile the other players were hoping it would crater. Other times you PRAY your official makes his retirement roll because you can see down the road the company will run out of cash and your guy will get fired and hinder his retirement prospects.

Manors are usually either rolled into at the set up, or bought in the last turn or two in the game when sea captains and officers come into play too late to justify the expense.

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22 Apr 2020 16:15 #309549 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic John Company
I have zero idea what the game looks like with the ability to go into your business for yourself so take that with a grain of salt! Take Msample more seriously than me.

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25 Apr 2020 18:54 #309642 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic John Company
Put me in the this game fucking rules category. I'll post more later but I found our full 6 turn game incredibly interesting with some dramatic die rolls changing the course of the game---our 3p game was decided by the final attrition rolls with Mezike sneaking out a deserved win due to his higher placed execs in the final attrition.

I think we all took some real strategy lessons from our first full play.
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25 Apr 2020 19:15 #309643 by Not Sure
Replied by Not Sure on topic John Company
Definitely. I made very poor use of my long-serving Director of Trade, which cost me a lot of opportunities. I learned a lot about how I should have been better with promise cubes.

I think he was appointed at the beginning of turn 2, and served until the end of the game at round 6, and still didn't retire. Based on the theory of the rules, that's like 75 years in office, and still showing up for work. Even passing "Tenure Limits" didn't work on this guy.

With a presidency closed very early on (leaving us with only 1 at 3 players), the options with him were generally limited to filling the occasional office, which I should have leveraged by accepting a nepotism penalty quite a bit more. Being wary of that caused me to get cut out of office jobs, meaning it was rare to be able to pull an executive position, even though I had a huge staff of writers.

While I had a grasp of the rules, the subtleties of the flow weren't obvious from the beginning. This is definitely a "many plays" game. We didn't even attempt the second half of the rules, where trade is deregulated and the families can open their own competing companies. There's a lot in this box.

I'll make time for this on TTS anytime we have people. I agree with Sax's "fucking rules" categorization.
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25 Apr 2020 20:25 #309644 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic John Company
Posted my thoughts here:



fyi, overall, this was about a 3 1/2 hour game with us looking up stuff a number of times around the edges---and it went the 6 turn distance.

Definite appetite to play again and Not Sure and Mezike were a pleasure to play with, these Wehrle games really want you to play a number of times. Had a great time in the Pamir game on Thursday but this was the main course imo.
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27 Apr 2020 07:47 #309667 by mezike
Replied by mezike on topic John Company
My hot take is total agreement on how great this game is. In this limited space of complex historical games that nobody wants to play, and as much as I enjoyed Pax Pamir, John Company is far more the game I want to spend time with right now.


I’ll try not to repeat the summary of the game already given above and will just add a few thoughts from my side. It was a first game for me so I don’t claim any true knowledge or understanding of the game or it’s intricacies, just what I was thinking and trying to achieve while playing.


The biggest impact was definitely the events of the first two rounds that set the shape of the game and made for an almost dictatorial Chairmanship which limited the scope for negotiation and bribery. As a result I doubt that we saw the best that John Company has to offer, particularly with very few promises exchanging hands. First round shipping was a disaster, we made literally no money so struggled with limited cashflow and heavy debt and couldn’t strengthen our defences against the Mughal advance, then we failed again on Bombay shipping with just the Bengal route returning any notable revenue.


As early Chairman and chief shareholder I promptly siphoned off as much cash as possible into dividends. With only one trading office and nothing more than scraps in the cupboard it felt like the company was on the verge of imminent collapse so my goal was to steal money claim my rightful share of proceeds, buy a Scottish Island for a big VP lead, and then put on a stiff upper lip and salute the sinking ship. Then, calamity of calamities, I lost the Chairmanship and some dang fool actually invested money into the business to keep it afloat. GarySax had a strong hold on production with several factories and a share in both active shipyards, which created a cycle of investment through goods and back into the company through dividend purchase which put the company into positive cash flow. A refusal by NotSure to pay dividends (he wanted the share price to crash) meant that there was a massive cash injection into the business which all went into the only route we had which was shipping a huge amount through a very strong single presidency. On top of that, having a slew of officers arrive and passing a law that expanded the army every turn through free guns resulted in a horde of Redcoats that ‘protected our interests’ and kept things together for the rest of the game despite spiralling costs.


So lesson #1 learned as I found myself on the back foot with a target on my back for my VP lead, no significant office and limited family funds. I had put in a couple of officers at the beginning as campaigning was inevitable and so they were guaranteeing a good future return, especially so with only one army posting available, so I instead muddied the writer’s pool as I needed to stop or at least hinder any mutual back-scratching between my two opponents whilst I was in a weak position. After that I focussed my family action on buying shares and mansions – this was important for me as I wanted to ensure my VPs kept growing which would then put some brass-ring pressure on the other guys to feel the need to individually catch up; with some other interference through negotiations I was hoping it would be enough to destabilise any notion of banding together and co-operating to put me out of contention.


I kicked off a few half-hearted negotiations purely just to try and get the other two chaps to outbid me and share wealth and promises between them, as it suited me to level things out where possible as they were clearly favouring one another in company affairs over me. Complicating negotiations might also have spread a little mistrust at the point when they absolutely should have banded together to bury my early lead and lock me into third place. I had the nascent notion of keeping them in close competition so that one or the other would eventually have to break down and side with me in some way, thus giving me enough of a leg up to stretch my lead just a little more out of reach. I cannot vouch for the efficacy of any of this, but I do think I was somewhat successful in this approach as I recall being happy about a few things happening that I privately thought weren’t terribly good decisions despite my public support for them.


What happened after the early game was a complete loss of leverage in the blue-collar Senior manager posts. Not only did the Director of Trade have a thankless bureaucratic role of rubber-stamping exports to Bengal, the purchasing roles beneath him had limited leverage on which goods or ships they would choose to purchase because there simply weren’t any worthy deals to make regarding promotions. So GarySax just shrugged and bought his own goods and it wasn’t worth my brokering with NotSure to get my lonely writer into the role as I only had one factory in my name and there wouldn’t be a worthwhile payoff. Because I had that writer sat there for a long time it created a horrible nepotism cost for NotSure as the evergreen Director of Trade so he just kept putting GarySax back into the purchasing role seeing as he resolutely didn’t want me to have it. At one point I handed over a promise to step into the largely redundant shipping role purely because I wanted to create some retirement and promotion options.


The result of all this was that the only meaningful choices were happening at Chairman and President of Bengal. When I ended up in charge of both roles in the final two rounds I pumped almost the entire company post-dividend wealth into the Presidency and then recklessly overspent on shipping purely to drain funds from other areas and to ensure the now meagre shipment bonuses would come in. At one point I paid to roll ten dice and on another occasion seven dice just to force future Chairmen to divert more funds into Bengal which would suit me by continuing to keep things leaner elsewhere if I was ousted from power.


I’ll also admit to some endgame kingmaking. Although I was ahead on points mid-game I was poor in cash with both NotSure and GarySax wealthy and ready to close the gap with the right opportunity. As the president residing in Bengal I had to appoint a new governor for the endgame and pretty much whoever I chose to elevate to the role would undoubtedly exploit it and challenge my lead. In the end I chose GarySax because NotSure had officers in place and I feared that plunder and taxation from an inevitable campaign (we had a huge army in Bengal at this point) would give him too much of an edge. I was also worried that with so many writers in the pool that NotSure would have a higher chance of success in achieving much-desired attrition in the final round. The governor post, along with a stranglehold on factories, made GarySax extraordinarily wealthy and able to buy an island but he was lacking in retirement opportunities to make the most of spending his money. Maybe he could have taken the win with just one more attrition, then again with just one or two more pounds in the family coffers or with an endgame dividend I could have easily extended my lead further still (my final round saw one fruitless retirement and a measly posting at an Investment Bank). Perhaps I should have bought more goods and ships to secure a dividend pay-out, alas I was too worried about losing the Chairmanship and being unable to put all that cash in it’s rightful place (my pocket). It was something of a close finish and at the midgame point it really could have been anyone’s game.
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