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Subject: Zheng Fen+Tichu, a question for Nate Straight and anyone who has tried it. rss

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Justus
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As I was looking in the comments section, I saw Nate Straight's note where he mixed the ZF card play with the Tichu gameplay. I generally get interested in a game when it gets called out as " something sublime"

I was wondering if he (or anyone else who has tried this) might be able to elaborate a little on this.

Thanks!

(edit: original post had a couple questions answered with a response so thorough that I'm deleting my initial questions)
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Lacombe
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Essentially, take Zheng Fen and add Tichu's partnerships, bidding, passing, and power cards.

Here's how I play, though very rarely anymore. I'm going to assume knowledge of both rulesets.

Combos

Mostly as in Zheng Fen:

* Straights can be beat by higher or longer [see note]
* Full houses have four shapes [see note]
* "Staircases" must be 3+ sets long

Except:

* Four-of-a-kind is now a bomb [see below]
* Straight flush is now a bomb [see below]

Note:

1) In Zheng Fen, the normal straight is not a playable combo. In my combined game, it is. Note that I still use Zheng Fen beating rules: A higher-ranked straight can beat even a longer lower straight.

2) I play with the Tichu deck and in Western style ranking [2-A], so the "3 and any card" full house shape now becomes "2 [the new lowest card] and any card" rather than the Big Two ranking shape.

Bombs

All Zheng Fen + Tichu:

* K-10-5 is a bomb
* Suited K-10-5 beats mixed
* Four-of-a-kind is a bomb, beats any K-10-5
* Straight flush is a bomb, beats any other

Note:

* Bombs are strictly played in turn order

Jokers / Power Cards

* All power cards function as in Tichu
* There are no other jokers in the deck

Partnerships / Passing

* All exactly as in Tichu

Bidding / Points

* All exactly as in Tichu

The biggest changes from Tichu are the K-10-5 bombs, the turn-order bombing, and the full house shapes.

The biggest changes from Zheng Fen are the addition of all of Tichu's partnership, powers, and bidding rules.
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Lacombe
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Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
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I like the wildness of the extra bombs. Tichu's rule [which I commonly refer to as "slapjack"] for bomb timing would be absolutely ludicrous with the added K-10-5 bombs, so I drop it. The added combos more than makes up for it in excitement.

I like Zheng Fen's comparative freedom concerning straight and full house shapes. Putting a long straight together [especially with passing] in Tichu is relatively easy, but it's all but impossible for someone else to have an equally long one.

Allowing a player to beat with a higher but shorter straight makes decisions like this recent one much more difficult and interesting, as the chance your first long straight lead will be beat is much higher. There are far fewer "sure thing" hands.

As to full houses, I could live without some of the more awkward full house shapes, but I really like the suit-sequence one. It gives you a back-up if you held a bunch of cruddy sequenced and suited cards hoping for a straight flush but it didn't pan out.

The staircases are mostly irrelevant, but I like Zheng Fen's rule. Pairs are already comparatively powerful [especially near the end of a hand]; no reason to help them. Having to have three in a row makes 2-2-3-4-4-5 hands much more difficult to pass from.
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Lacombe
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Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
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Also, thanks for giving me a space to talk about my variant. I get unbelievable flak anytime I bring it up in the Tichu forum, so I stopped visiting there.

I think the distaste for it is because most Tichu players [it seems to me] are not traditional card players, but Euro players. They don't seem to relish in the house rules and variant rules that are pretty much part of traditional card gaming culture. It is not at all uncommon for regions, cities, clubs, countries, etc to have completely separate rules for common card games. This is why they're called "traditional" card games. Individuals have every right in traditional card games to say "I play by these rules because I know them better" or even "I play by these rules because I like them better", but this concept is really lost on a lot of BGG.

Part of the fun of learning new [to you] traditional card games is making up your own traditions, choosing which variants you like and which you don't.
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Jonathan Kandell
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You know I'm with you Nate. Tichu is just one of many clmibing games, any of which can be adapted. I have a collection of house rules for Zheng Feng and Tien Len and Big Two to make them work better for 2 players I am going to post one of these days.
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Justus
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NateStraight wrote:

Here's how I play, though very rarely anymore.


Just curious -- any particular reason why? Have you replaced it with another card game of the moment?

NateStraight wrote:
Also, thanks for giving me a space to talk about my variant. I get unbelievable flak anytime I bring it up in the Tichu forum, so I stopped visiting there.

jkandell wrote:
You know I'm with you Nate. Tichu is just one of many clmibing games, any of which can be adapted. I have a collection of house rules for Zheng Feng and Tien Len and Big Two to make them work better for 2 players I am going to post one of these days.


Yes, the utter ignorance and disinterest in playing other climbing games by a lot of Tichu players is insanely annoying. I like Tichu, but good god, its not the end-all be-all of this family of games. I am really hoping to round up three guys and get them to play Zheng Fan (or ZF+Tichu) just cause I haven't had a chance to play it myself.

On an off topic note, have any of you guys tried out Tractor/80 points? http://www.pagat.com/kt5/tractor.html It sounds intriguing, my gf's cousin told me about it while we were in china. Its a trick taking game of the k-10-5 variety. I'm really hoping to inflict this game on my gaming group also.

Slightly less OT, if you haven't had a chance to try it, you might want to try the double deck, four player dou dizhu variant listed on the end of the do dizhu listing on pagat. http://www.pagat.com/climbing/doudizhu.html Its extremely popular in Hangzhou right now and they even have a weekly show of it on TV! With two decks, its seems to be all about getting rid of cards to set up nice staircases and its also really bomb heavy because even though it has two decks in it, the bombs are still four of a kind.

And of course, thanks for the quick and thorough response!!
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Lacombe
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aaarg_ink wrote:
NateStraight wrote:

Here's how I play, though very rarely anymore.


Just curious -- any particular reason why? Have you replaced it with another card game of the moment?


It's usually just my wife and I playing anymore. Our game-groups are mostly board-gaming, and we haven't had a lot of chance to visit family much recently.

Additionally, I've been smitten with the Decktet and that's been my go-to source for card-gaming whenever I get the itch or opportunity.

Quote:

Slightly less OT, if you haven't had a chance to try it, you might want to try the double deck, four player dou dizhu variant listed on the end of the do dizhu listing on pagat. http://www.pagat.com/climbing/doudizhu.html Its extremely popular in Hangzhou right now and they even have a weekly show of it on TV! With two decks, its seems to be all about getting rid of cards to set up nice staircases and its also really bomb heavy because even though it has two decks in it, the bombs are still four of a kind.


That sounds insane.
 
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Sean Ross
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NateStraight wrote:
That sounds insane.
This one's insane: http://www.pagat.com/climbing/gouji.html
Still want to try it sometime, though....
blush
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Jonathan Kandell
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The body language of the two men says it all: argh! (I picture Haggis wearing a stylish Armani suit and Gouji wearing rag-tag thrift store clothes full of holes. ... the weird drunk uncle everyone is embarrassed of at the family reunion.) Be honest, Sean; that photo comes from playtesting an early version of Haggis.
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Sean Ross
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jkandell wrote:
Be honest, Sean; that photo comes from playtesting an early version of Haggis.
I swear, I never went above 19 cards in hand.
ninja

Using your analogy: Haggis' original scoring looked like Columbo's trenchcoat on a bad day.

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Justus
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NateStraight wrote:

Additionally, I've been smitten with the Decktet and that's been my go-to source for card-gaming whenever I get the itch or opportunity.


Hmm any good decktet climbing games? I was about to get myself a Decktet set, and then got sidetracked cause I was trying to budget my gaming and am currently trying to go cheap by messing around with these different climbing games instead.

and yeah, gou ji sounds nuts, but you'll be surprised at how the "San Da Yi" (3 vs 1) makes for pretty compelling TV even when you don't understand a single word or even in my first viewing any of the rules. You get to see everyone's hands (it looks like a computer game on the screen) and with a bunch of bombs all around its a lot of fun to see people walking into a trap.
 
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Lacombe
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seandavidross wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
That sounds insane.
This one's insane: http://www.pagat.com/climbing/gouji.html
Still want to try it sometime, though....
blush


Lol. Wow.
 
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Lacombe
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aaarg_ink wrote:
NateStraight wrote:

Additionally, I've been smitten with the Decktet and that's been my go-to source for card-gaming whenever I get the itch or opportunity.


Hmm any good decktet climbing games?


There is Ascend that looks promising, by a really knowledgable card player.
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Daniël Muilwijk
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NateStraight wrote:
aaarg_ink wrote:
Hmm any good decktet climbing games?

There is Ascend that looks promising, by a really knowledgable card player.

The rules can be found here.
Make sure you also take a look at the (right now unofficial) bidding rules.
 
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Justus
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Just a thought experiment/question:

What if the quads and straight flushes were not bombs? Do you think that would negatively affect the variant? I like the idea of really focusing on the 5-10-K aspect of the scoring.

Plus one thing about Tichu is that you don't have to worry about suits aside from the straight flushes, so maybe dumping the straight flush would clean up that aspect of the game.
 
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Lacombe
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Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
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aaarg_ink wrote:
Just a thought experiment/question:

What if the quads and straight flushes were not bombs? Do you think that would negatively affect the variant? I like the idea of really focusing on the 5-10-K aspect of the scoring.

Plus one thing about Tichu is that you don't have to worry about suits aside from the straight flushes, so maybe dumping the straight flush would clean up that aspect of the game.


The thing the four-of-a-kind and straight flush bombs really add to the game is that they interact nicely with the standard combos and add tension to the card passing.

In general, a Tichu hand is either straight-oriented or set-oriented [you either keep a bunch of different cards or a bunch of similar cards]. Usually a winning hand will consist of specialization along one of these dimensions. A mix of a 5-card straight, 3 pairs, an Ace, the Mah Jong, and another single card will very rarely win a hand.

Trying to push your hand toward one side or the other tilts you closer and closer to matching up your full house trips with the fourth card, or lining up some suited cards you held for a straight with the other ones you need for the straight flush.

You'll find as you play more and more that sets in one hand tend to reinforce sets in another, and conversely with straights. If you're holding a few trips, you're going to throw off your off cards, which other people [since you have only a few] are going to be more likely to hold. They need your trip cards for a straight, but they won't get them.

In addition, with the suit-sequence option for the "pair" of a full house, the game has a neat way of combining the two polarities. This is kind of akin to Tom Lehmann's discussion of the role of the Contact Specialist in Race For The Galaxy.

Race has an economic path and a military path, each self-reinforcing. BUT, there's one card [in the base set] that lets you break from one to the other: The Contact Specialist, which lets the economic powerhouse suddenly jump onto the military route!

I find the four-of-a-kind and straight-flush bombs analogous to the 6-devs in Race, and the suit-sequence full house combo and staircase combo analogous to the Contact Specialist.

Removing any of these things gets rid of this implicit interaction between two polarities of hand type. It's why I like the suit-sequence full house option and prefer 3-length rather than 2-length stairs [this requires you to actually hold a combination of straight and trip "outs", rather than just randomly matching up two paris].

I think the central decision in all Tichu passing [which is a much more important part of the game than people realize; it's akin to the discard in Cribbage] is "sets or straights?".

I really really like the way all of the things you've mentioned and we've discussed make that choice hard. That's why I call the combo game with all of them included "sublime".
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Justus
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@ nate, well said, and it makes perfect sense to me! BTW the contact specialist analogy is great!

I will try (have been) to get your variant on the table but I haven't pushed hard enough...I will renew my efforts!

And for what its worth, I posted a combo variant with Tien Len and yeah, I see how some people obviously get annoyed at the suggestion of changes to their favorite game.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/608574/tichu-with-tienle...
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George Leach
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I'm very much more of a card game fan than any of the gamers I normally play with and I love the idea of playing around with variant rules (I'm looking forward to some Dealer's Choice Poker on my Stag weekend).

However, when it comes to learning climbing game rules I really struggle to remember the variations and they often seem quite arbitrary to me. Is it possible you could put together a cheat sheet for the possible hands in Tichu+ZhengFen, Nate? You oculd post it as a new game and call it TiZheng...?
 
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