We’ve found the following game imbalances:
- Iceland is better than all other expansion boards, due to its income.
- Whaling is slightly better than all other options for getting tiles, and it snowballs into allowing you to get more bonus goods, too.
- Cow and Sheep breeding is sub-optimal in almost all cases (except if you get really lucky with an Occupation at the right time)
- The fourth player in a 4-player game is at a significant disadvantage, especially if he stays as last player into further rounds.
Addressing Game Balance
We suggest the following changes to the game:
- Make Iceland generate 1 less income
- Give player 4 one (1) silver to start
- Buy the Mini-Expansion with 2 additional island tiles (expansion boards)
We think that the above changes would probably be enough. We haven’t experimented a great deal with it, but we’ve noticed that in almost all cases, the Iceland player is about 5 points ahead, and player 4 is almost always a few points behind at the end of the game, due to a rough start (assuming all players know the dominant strategies).
The problem with Iceland is that the board is worth quite a few points, but it’s also quite lucrative for income (i.e. you can get 2 additional income quite easily).
The problem with player 4 is that several important squares are all taken by other players before player 4 can act. That is, 2 Resources, 1wood/player+ore, 3 Resources+Upgrade, and all the boat squares. The extra tiles may help, but it really depends which columns they affect and what the other players do. We feel that having silver from the start would allow player 4 to try strategies that are not normally possible early game because no other player starts with any silver.