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Subject: Variants we're playing this game with... rss

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Carlos Soto Power
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Hi everybody, I'd like to post a variant here, but I also would like to hear about yours (if using any).

We play Stone Age with this little variant: each player begins the game with one value 1 tool. This minor change help new players to rapidly understand the function of tools in the game; moreover, it's useful from the beginning of the game to have that extra little help that a value 1 tool provides.

Are you playing this game using other variants? Pelase let me know. meeple

----
Edited for typos
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Simon Goodwin
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That sounds like a good idea. We have a 5-player game of Stone Age coming up next week, with 3 people new to the game. I think we might use your variant.

We are also about to try out our new house rule for determining the start player.

Rather than just hand the start player marker clockwise at the end of each round, we'll play that the first player to put a worker at the gold mine takes the start player marker. If no-one goes for gold, then move the marker clockwise.

We're doing this mainly to help the last player a little bit. Normally the player who plays 5th would play 4th in the next round. This is quite a disadvantage when compared to the player who played 2nd in round 1 and then 1st in round 2.

Also when playing last you normally won't get the chance to grab one of the special spaces (for tools, extra worker, etc) that are in short supply - always one less than the number of players.

If this is the case then at least now the last player can grab the start marker.
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Eric Hymowitz
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Just a suggestion/idea that I haven't tried or considered at all, but seems like it could work.

Create a "space" where a player can take the start-player-next-turn? Make it so that it requires a "turn" during the placement phase, but does not require a meeple. You'll probably need a token (like the Ring in Village), so that if nobody takes it, the start-player goes clockwise as usual.
 
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Carlos Soto Power
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2bit wrote:
We are also about to try out our new house rule for determining the start player.

Rather than just hand the start player marker clockwise at the end of each round, we'll play that the first player to put a worker at the gold mine takes the start player marker. If no-one goes for gold, then move the marker clockwise.

We're doing this mainly to help the last player a little bit. Normally the player who plays 5th would play 4th in the next round. This is quite a disadvantage when compared to the player who played 2nd in round 1 and then 1st in round 2.

Also when playing last you normally won't get the chance to grab one of the special spaces (for tools, extra worker, etc) that are in short supply - always one less than the number of players.

If this is the case then at least now the last player can grab the start marker.

Yeah, start sitting positions can result in a disadvantage for the last players in the round, due to the normal rules for passing the Start Player Marker (SPM) . Though, I see a problem with your solution, which is:
a) What if last player always tends to put workers first in the gold mine? This could create a counter-clockwise order effect on passing the SPM, and that means the same problem could arise, but in reverse order. Or...
b) What if last player choose a different action and the current first player enters first on the gold mine? It means he/she'll keep the SPM for the next round, which would unbalance the game even more than with the normal rules.

So, instead of that, What if we just adjust the ammount of food that players start the game with, according to their sitting order? (e.g. 1 less food for each non-starting player sitting at your left.) In a 4 player game it would result as this: 1st player: 3 less food; 2nd player: 2 less food; 3th player: 1 less food; 4th player: without changes since no other than the starting player is sitting at his/her left.

What do you think about this?
 
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Carlos Soto Power
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hymie wrote:
...Create a "space" where a player can take the start-player-next-turn? Make it so that it requires a "turn" during the placement phase, but does not require a meeple. You'll probably need a token (like the Ring in Village), so that if nobody takes it, the start-player goes clockwise as usual.

I tend to agree with this idea, 'cause a meeple is't needed to go for it, but it consumes one precious turn of worker placement (I think the bonfire in the center of the village would be a nice space to place a wooden token in a neutral color to determine this). I'm gonna try your variant, as well as Simon's and mine too. I recommend to everybody interested on balancing this part of the game to do the same and share your experiences here with the rest of us.
 
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Simon Goodwin
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I did consider your points (a) and (b) before settling on the approach, but I don't think either will be a problem in practice.

There are a number of games we've played in which a player can take the start marker by placing a worker on a certain space - Caylus, Lancaster, Snowdonia, Village, Agricola and Belfort spring to mind - and it hasn't resulted in reverse player order, nor the start player always hogging the start marker.

It seems that players usually have something more pressing they want to do than simply get themselves first go.

In the case of Stone Age, if the start player repeatedly chooses to immediately go for gold, and so retain the start marker, they are simply denying themselves all the desirable spaces for family growth, tools, food production (and decorations in the expansion), without which they are unlikely to win

So I'm hoping it will work fine in our game tomorrow - I'll let you know

Another variant we play is that to take a civilization card the required number of resources given up have to be different.

Before that we found that players would just use stockpiles of wood to take all the civilization cards available each round and so make the game end quite quickly. Now by insisting that all the resources submitted need to be different, it makes the other resources more useful and the acquisition of civilization cards more tactical.

I recommend you give this a try
 
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Alex Drazen
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The other resources are already "more useful" for wild-card huts (if you have 5 gold, the 5x1 hut is worth 30 points).

Requiring multiple resource types for civilization cards would vastly diminish their value, and greatly increase the value of huts. It seems like, with the possible exception of the first card, huts would almost always be way more valuable in your variant.

Here's an example using an awesome card: the 3x hut civilization card. Let's say it is on the 4 resource space, and you are going to end the game with 7 huts. Under normal rules, you'd probably spend four wood - 12 pips (points), so you'd net 21-12 = 9. Under your variant, that would require one of each, or 18 pips (points) of resources, with a net of 21-18 = 3.

Now consider the 4x3 hut (4 resources, 3 types). You could just as easily turn in two gold, a clay, and a stone for 21 points. Why would you ever bother with the card?

There are other circumstances where the cards would be worse off on an individual basis. One card rewards any two resources, so you would presumably have to have one each of the other two resources (if it was on the 2 spot) to get any useful effect out of it at all, rather than turning 2 wood into 2 gold.

Because the cards will be worse, they'll move more slowly, and the game will almost certainly end on hut-drilling, which I don't think is the intent of 4P. Once the armies start to grow, civ cards usually go quick and are even more valuable than the village... that's one of the more interesting choices of the game: do you want that farm, or do you want that juicy card before someone else snatches it up? If it requires some awkward pile of resources, the card is less appealing, and the decision is less strategic.
 
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Carlos Soto Power
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2bit wrote:
...Another variant we play is that to take a civilization card the required number of resources given up have to be different...

It seemed a good idea to me when I read it and I would have liked it to work, to change the fact that the majority of time the forest is the most desirable place to put workers, pitifully, Alex's reasoning IMO is correct:

alexdrazen wrote:
The other resources are already "more useful" for wild-card huts (if you have 5 gold, the 5x1 hut is worth 30 points).

Requiring multiple resource types for civilization cards would vastly diminish their value, and greatly increase the value of huts. It seems like, with the possible exception of the first card, huts would almost always be way more valuable in your variant...

I'd like to find a way to make the mountain and gold mine most desirable places to put workers in. Seriously, I have won games almost without using those places (just the forest and the clay pit). soblue
 
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Alex Drazen
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Quote:
I'd like to find a way to make the mountain and gold mine most desirable places to put workers in. Seriously, I have won games almost without using those places (just the forest and the clay pit).

They are by definition less desirable, as they produce fewer resources per pip. (n÷5 and m÷6 vs n÷3 and m÷4).

They are most useful for fueling the wildcard (joker) huts, if you have enough tribesmen to make them worthwhile. Especially so on huts like 5x4 and 4x3, where you have to have stone/gold.

If you're in P4 position, taking a 1-7 hut or other wildcard hut can be great if you have another 6-7 guys to put somewhere, a few tools, and get a good roll. The 20-30 points you get from doing this will balance out the card bonuses your opponents will likely get before you can.

In fact, if the cards required different resources, being 4th player would be even worse -- the hut, love shack, and best hut would likely be taken, leaving you with lower-valued cards and huts (on average).
 
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Simon Goodwin
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In our games (only 2 or 3 players to date) people tended to always go for wood, grab all the civ cards they could, and score heavily at game end by having large sets. The building cards tended to languish for a long time because the stone and gold were rarely taken.

By making the resources to get civ cards different, it slowed their acquisition and made the buildings more attractive. It also brought the quarry and gold mining much more into play.

So for us, it resulted in a more varied and enjoyable game

We didn't get to try it with 5 players yet - when we do, we'll see if the variant still works well for us, or whether original rules suit better.
 
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Alex Drazen
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Quote:
It also brought the quarry and gold mining much more into play.

Although you cannot run out of resources, Stone Age comes equipped with sets of 10 gold, 12 stone, 18 clay, and 28 wood.

I'd say that a count like that means that gold and stone were likely never imagined nor intended to be majorly contested resources in Stone Age, especially in 3p/4p.

Also, the huts should not languish forever. With market (also known as "Christmas tree") cards, lots of people will get a resource - often a stone or a gold. Several other civ cards yield a resource or two (two stone, one gold, roll for gold, two multiple-choice), which can then be converted into a hut.

If the games you played were nothing but a contest for civ cards, if someone focused on the Hut cards and then built some huts, they should have won handily.

ESPECIALLY two player games should see very fierce competition for the huts -- once all the 2x cards are gone, those are worth huge points if you drill right through a stack in 2 turns.
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Sven Ryglert
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We are taking away 1 random civ card and 1 random hut for each player in game. In that way the games gets more unpredictable.

We also narrows down the available spaces by the wood, clay, stone and gold sites. 6 spaces with 4 players, 5 spaces with 3 players and so on. It makes the competition for resources a little bit more interesting.

In the end we are counting the resources,food two points each, wood 3 points each and so on.

We are planning to use nature catastrophics also by adding them into the civ deck. Earthquake takes down a random hut for every player and they losing that many points. For ? huts you roll dices equal the number of total resources needed for that hut. Drought takes away one farm for every player. Wildfire makes it impossible to hunt and gathering wood for one turn. Plague kills 1 out 6, 2 out of 8, 3 out of 10 people.

Otherwise we are plying the game almost by the original rules
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Clyde Erwin
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It is interesting to see how other groups have such a different experience than the two or three different groups I play with.

In all of my groups, everyone bought cards so no one was running wild on sets. But eventually the player who focused on buying as many huts as possible always won. This made the 3xhuts cards super valuable and since there are two of them, there are more total multiplier cards for huts than anything else. Couple that with no maximum huts and the writing was on the wall. The "hut" player would ignore all cards that were not xhut and focus on a hut or more per turn. The games tended to end early and the hut player would dwarf even the players who managed full sets. It was so bad that we lost all respect for picture strategy for a long time.

Due to this happening constantly after awhile, we started a balancing mod. The card that says 3xhuts with the 3 VP at the top is always placed at the bottom of the deck after shuffle. This way it might still make it out but rarely without triggering the end of game.

Doing this has brought back a balance in strategies. Now we see people winning with different apraoches instead of always the same one.
 
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As regards to creating a start next turn space, what about the idea that this is only available once the production buildings (field, hut, tool maker) are at maximum for the number of players. If no one takes up the space, starting next turn then goes to the next player clockwise as per normal.
 
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