Hidden but trackable information (HBTI)
Jay Sachs
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Many games, Euros especially, "feature" hidden but trackable information (which from now on I'll refer to as HBTI). Comments in this thread are representative of some people's view that keeping this information hidden prevents analysis paralysis (AP); other commenters disagree. That thread has just a couple of anecdotes, though, which of course are statistically useless (is that redundant?). As everyone knows, all we need to do to make it statistically useful (is that an oxymoron?) is add more anecdotes!

If HBTI discourages AP, that would seem to imply that the correlation between being unable or unwilling to track this information and being subject to AP is very high. Is that true? Does it depend on the game? For example, the contents of any player's discard pile in Dominion is HBTI. Permitting people to look through all player's discards could greatly increase the game time. However, playing with VPs exposed in Puerto Rico imposes far less, if any, concrete time penalty.

HBTI seems to reward players with certain specific skills or inclinations. Are those skills really pertinent to boardgame playing? Why not reward players who can run a four minute mile, or who have blue eyes?

The first item will be a statistically ridiculous, but hopefully interesting, poll. Please add games to this geeklist that feature HBTI, and feel free to offer your statistically meaningful and relevent anecdotes and opinions on how HBTI affects that game, positively or negatively. If you know of existing threads, geeklists, etc, already addressing HBTI, feel free to add them as well.
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1. Board Game: The Poll Game [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:10841]
Jay Sachs
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10. In general, how do you feel about games with HBTI?
I prefer games with HBTI.
I don't care whether or not a game has HBTI.
I prefer games without HBTI.
It strongly depends on the game.
Other.
23. What is the primary effect of HBTI?
It affects AP.
It affects kingmaking when scores are close.
It encourages people who are losing badly to not realize they've already lost and stay in and enjoy the game.
It affects my win percentage.
It affects the enjoyability of the game.
It has no signficance at all.
Other.
24. In general, how well does HBTI discourage "analysis paralysis" (AP)?
It strongly discourages AP.
It mildly discourages AP.
It does not discourage AP.
It mildly encourages AP.
It strongly encourages AP.
The impact strongly depends on the game and information involved.
Other.
25. In general, how well does HBTI discourage kingmaking?
It strongly discourages kingmaking.
It mildly discourages kingmaking.
It does not discourage kingmaking.
It mildly encourages kingmaking.
It strongly encourages kingmaking.
The impact strongly depends on the game and information involved.
Other.
26. What is the primary effect of HBTI on players' perception of how well they're doing during play?
It encourages people who are losing badly to not realize they've already lost and stay in and enjoy the game.
It confuses people who are winning so that they make suboptimal choices so that other players have a greater chance to overtake them.
It doesn't materially affect those perceptions. Players generally have a good sense of this regardless of HBTI.
The impact strongly depends on the game and information involved.
Other.
27. When playing games with HBTI, would you prefer (or do you push for) a houserule to keep that information public and exposed?
Never. If the rules specify hidden, it stays hidden.
Sometimes, it depends on the game and the information.
Yes, I usually play with HBTI public, with a few exceptions
Always. If it's trackable, it's public.
I only suggest making it public if it will help me win.
28. Do you consider the ability to track HBTI (e.g. outstanding short-term memory) a pertinent skill to apply to playing games?
Yes, definitely.
It depends.
No. You might as well award victory points to players based on the proximity of their birthday.
29. Which of the following, if any, do you consider reasonable kinds of information to keep hidden but trackable?
Victory points
Money
Purchased/selected items/cards
Locations
Other
30. If a game permits a specific exposures of hidden information, do you consider it reasonable to allow note-taking (on paper or otherwise)?
No, never
Only when the exposure is to specific players and not all players (e.g. Atreides and treachery cards in Dune)
Usually, except for specific cases
Always
31. If you feel that HBTI should sometimes be public, does your opinion change based on whether a game is played online "real time" (e.g. BSW), PBEM/PBF, or face-to-face?
HBTI should be public in games played face to face.
HBTI should be public in games played in real time online.
HBTI should be public in games played via PBEM/PBF.
It all depends on the game.
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Poll created by jaysachs
 
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2. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:217]
Jay Sachs
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Notre Dame keeps victoryprestige points hidden. Personally, I don't see how this helps AP, or kingmaking. In this game, I think it keeps players who are falling behind from feeling hopeless. Maybe I'm just not experienced enough, but I don't see what effect knowing the relative scores would have on my play. Then again, most of my plays of this are two player, and so maybe HBTI might have some miniscule kingmaking effect. Then again, I don't have the aversion to kingmaking that other people seem to.
 
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3. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:281] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
whistler
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West Virginia
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The resource cards are HBTI.
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4. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:16]
Mauricio Noda
Brazil
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The game who started this thread.

VP chips have to be face down. They have two different values, both with the same back and size to discourage chip counting.
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5. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
Donald Dimitroff
United States
Beltsville
Maryland
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Right now I am feeling very: turbed, pirited, heveled, combobulated, and not tinguished, so don't you dare "dis" me!
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Cards purchased are kept face down. Note: There is one special case in which one card may be completely hidden from the other players.

My AP friends generally do not like this game because they cannot see the cards later in the game. I like this game because it cuts down on their AP.
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6. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Donald Dimitroff
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Beltsville
Maryland
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Right now I am feeling very: turbed, pirited, heveled, combobulated, and not tinguished, so don't you dare "dis" me!
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Players pick random tiles and play them.
Sometimes, you need a special tile with the correct road/city/farm combination to finish a feature that you are building.
My AP friends really dislike this game because of that.

In theory, if you knew all the tiles by heart and kept track of what tiles have been played, then you could track the tiles that still remain to be played. So the remaining tiles are hidden but their probabilities are track-able.

It is amazing to me to watch my one AP friend play this game. He will pick a tile, rotating it all four directions and looking at all sides of the board. You can see that he is trying to analyze the tile against all possible placements on the board. While most non-AP players will make a play quickly, my AP friend will take 10 minutes or more to play one tile. He will turn this 45 minute quick-filler into 2+ hour marathon. He seems to forget that their are only four ways to score points in the base game.

In the end, he hates this game. He criticizes it, saying that it takes too long to play. He does not like the fact that game, to quote him: "does not have perfect information". He says: "Carcassonne is the worst game."
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7. Board Game: Bridge [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:493]
Jay Sachs
United States
Woodinville
Washington
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A classic in terms of HBTI. Here it's the cards played during the taking of tricks. I'm not a terribly experienced Bridge player, but are there groups that play with the taken tricks face up? Seems like card counting ability pays off handsomely in this game. By the time the players were down to 5 cards in their hands, in combination with the bidding, my dad would be able to do a pretty excellent job of identifying what cards everyone had left in their hands, player by player. While impressive, it had the effect of discouraging me from playing, since I'm not particularly good at card counting, and the effort expended in doing so is not fun to me.

I would find it very surprising to find a group that played with this information open.
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8. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Donald Dimitroff
United States
Beltsville
Maryland
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The introductory game has players laying down their cards for all to see.

Later on, players are supposed to keep their cards in their hand, but can tell other players what they are holding.

So cards being held are hidden, but easily track-able.
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9. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:29]
Mauricio Noda
Brazil
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Money is hidden or purpose. Or you pile it up, or put somewhere not visible.
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10. Board Game: Cleopatra and the Society of Architects [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:760]
Donald Dimitroff
United States
Beltsville
Maryland
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Right now I am feeling very: turbed, pirited, heveled, combobulated, and not tinguished, so don't you dare "dis" me!
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Keeping track of corruption (points) is hidden, but track-able.
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11. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:107]
Jay Sachs
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Woodinville
Washington
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Like Power Grid, money is hidden. At least here the money is in the form of cards with a uniform back.

However, especially in 2-player Goa, even I find it possible to track my opponent's money. I'd just as soon play open money. I've read, but not played, a possible variant that removes the perfect information with a little bit of random "salt".
 
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12. Board Game Designer: Reiner Knizia
Brad Miller
United States
Seattle
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I put Reiner here, as so many of his games have this, (T&E, Samurai, TtD, etc. etc. etc.)
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13. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:391]
Jay Sachs
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Here, you're supposed to keep your chips hidden. A push-your-luck game like this does benefit from the HBTI.
 
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14. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:186] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
United States
Austin
Texas
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Victory Coins are gained in units of 1, 3, 5 and 10 but they all have the same back and are placed face down.
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