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Subject: Random Setup (Again) rss

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Peter Hall
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I've looked through the various threads on this topic and haven't really found a satisfactory answer. Even if you're not worried about the starting setup significantly favoring one player, there is still the matter of how you actually achieve the "random" setup called for by the rules. I just don't like the idea of one player picking the setup under a vague imperative to do it non-strategically. It would be like saying "hey, pick an interesting Dominion board to play, but don't look for combos that you might want to buy."

Poll
How do you setup the Metropolys board?
I grab all the tokens and confetti Chaos Orb them onto the board!
I meticulously recreate the example/intro setup from the rulebook.
Before cards and player order are determined, I have players take turns placing a token with no restrictions.
Before cards and player order are determined, I have players take turns placing a token with some restrictions (token density, ratio, etc.)
After cards and player order are determined, I have players take turns placing a token with no restrictions.
After cards and player order are determined, I have players take turns placing a token with some restrictions (token density, ratio, etc.)
      19 answers
Poll created by dangerouslycheesy


 
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Russ Williams
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It's quite easy to put the tokens out quickly and randomly without paying attention to "combos" that one might want. Simply successively pick an arbitrary empty board space and grab a token from the mixed set of tokens in your hand without looking to see which kind of token you're grabbing. (I usually set up the tokens myself quickly in this way, since I know the set up rules better than most people I play with.)

I see no reason to obsess about doing a uniformly random setup (i.e., worrying about trying to make each possible set up be equally probable).

In any case, we deal out goals after setting up the tokens, so even if I was surreptitiously trying to benefit myself, I couldn't.
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Karl Bunyan
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russ wrote:
It's quite easy to put the tokens out quickly and randomly without paying attention to "combos" that one might want. Simply successively pick an arbitrary empty board space and grab a token from the mixed set of tokens in your hand without looking to see which kind of token you're grabbing. (I usually set up the tokens myself quickly in this way, since I know the set up rules better than most people I play with.)

I see no reason to obsess about doing a uniformly random setup (i.e., worrying about trying to make each possible set up be equally probable).

In any case, we deal out goals after setting up the tokens, so even if I was surreptitiously trying to benefit myself, I couldn't.

Agree and agree and agree. Although scattering the tokens around the board and then pushing them into the nearest space seems to guarantee me losing every time, so maybe I need another way...
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Peter Hall
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Wow, that was fast. Thanks.

Yeah, part of my brain is on board and wants to dispense with protocol. Unfortunately, I think it's a part that generally loses arguments with my gaming groups. Just seems like, especially when introducing new players, some people might feel cheated a bit if you exploited a particular board position that you chose during setup, even if you weren't thinking of it when you set it up.

To a lesser extent, I'm also concerned about my poor randomizing ability. I think I would tend to place tokens as if fulfilling a checklist: make sure there are some tokens next to statues, some next to bridges, not too many in one area, not a big crowd of the same token, etc. Which is of course not random. I dunno, maybe that's OK.

 
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Russ Williams
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dangerouslycheesy wrote:
Wow, that was fast. Thanks.

Yeah, part of my brain is on board and wants to dispense with protocol. Unfortunately, I think it's a part that generally loses arguments with my gaming groups. Just seems like, especially when introducing new players, some people might feel cheated a bit if you exploited a particular board position that you chose during setup, even if you weren't thinking of it when you set it up.

To a lesser extent, I'm also concerned about my poor randomizing ability. I think I would tend to place tokens as if fulfilling a checklist: make sure there are some tokens next to statues, some next to bridges, not too many in one area, not a big crowd of the same token, etc. Which is of course not random. I dunno, maybe that's OK.

Simple solution: set them out randomly & quickly, then invite other players to move them around if they like.

If all this is done before goals are dealt, it's hard for me to imagine someone sincerely believing that someone is somehow surreptitiously getting an unfair advantage.
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Tomello Visello
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dangerouslycheesy wrote:
I just don't like the idea of one player picking the setup under a vague imperative to do it non-strategically.

Possible inferences I can draw:

a) one person placing tokens arbitrarily is not sufficiently random for you. You want your randomness to be programmed with specificity.

b) you don't trust your fellow opponents.

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Mick Sullivan
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You're overthinking it. Random means random. Toss (literally!) the appropriate numbers of tokens on the districts, slide each one into the nearest empty neighborhood, bump any out of blind alleys, and play the game.

Does your group complain when you shuffle a deck of cards, and different people get different things? It's functionally the same.
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Peter Hall
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TVis wrote:
dangerouslycheesy wrote:
I just don't like the idea of one player picking the setup under a vague imperative to do it non-strategically.

Possible inferences I can draw:

a) one person placing tokens arbitrarily is not sufficiently random for you. You want your randomness to be programmed with specificity.

b) you don't trust your fellow opponents.



Yeah, a bit of both.

I trust my opponents in general, but I don't really like it when games require me to trust them. devil In reality, I'll probably be the one setting up the game most times, so I just want to avoid any potential suspicions my opponents might have.

Having "specifically programmed" randomness for me would be preferable, as it does solve the first problem, and also ensures you're not getting too same-y setups.

Anyway, looks like most people prefer the either a trusting arbitrary setup, or an actual physical scattering of tokens, so I'll probably go with that when introducing the game at least. Time to queue up some Vasel videos to get me in the spirit!

Feel free to chime in if you go for a more structured setup!

 
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Russ Williams
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dangerouslycheesy wrote:
I trust my opponents in general, but I don't really like it when games require me to trust them. devil In reality, I'll probably be the one setting up the game most times, so I just want to avoid any potential suspicions my opponents might have.

Out of curiosity, has this been a problem which actually came up (i.e., did your fellow players express concern that you were somehow sneakily setting up the game in a way to give you an advantage)? Or is this just worrying about a hypothetical possibility that they might believe you are doing this?

Quote:
Having "specifically programmed" randomness for me would be preferable, as it does solve the first problem, and also ensures you're not getting too same-y setups.


If you seriously want a more formal approach which eliminates the chance that a single player could somehow intentionally gain an advantage, I would propose the following:

Player A puts some neutral tokens in the regions (7 in the center, 5 in the peripheral regions) however they wish.

(Optional if there are 3 or 4 players) : Player B can move any of those neutral tokens which are adjacent to other neutral tokens, if player B wishes.

Player C then puts randomly selected real tokens onto places with the neutral tokens (identifying the specific neutral token to be replaced before randomly drawing the real token).

Now deal out the goal cards and play.

---

But seriously, this is an unnecessary waste of time. Just deal them out without worrying about it or thinking about it.

---

A compromise approach: go region by region, changing the dealing player for each region:

Player A deals out 7 randomly quickly to the central region.
Player B deals out 5 randomly quickly to a side region.
Player C (or A in 2-player game) deals out 5 to a side region.
(Repeat as needed.)

Now deal out the goal cards and play.
 
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Peter Hall
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No, I've only played it once, at home, with the example setup. Just anticipating that there might be grumblings in the game group(s). Maybe I'll update the thread later.

It could be that I've just spent too much time around CCGs. There was a 10+ page thread in the NetRunner forum debating whether shuffling a hand and allowing the other player to pick blindly was sufficiently random, or if a die roll should be used, and which player could insist on it/refuse it, etc. I thought it was pretty silly, but reasonable people disagreed.

Anyway, I'm certainly not entertaining anything too cumbersome as a fix, given that it's a short game. Would've been nice if they'd made the tokens one-sided, and perhaps marked certain spots on the board to get tokens (or included enough blank tokens to fill the board). I guess it would've been too much to ask for different tokens in the Ystari box, in addition to the whopping four cards you get. whistle
 
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Russ Williams
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Given that you really can't know what setup might be good for you before you know your goal, I really don't see the comparison to picking a card from someone else's hand in a card game.

I'll put it this way: I don't mind if you want to put the tokens out in a specific way instead of trying to randomize them! I honestly don't believe you could do so in a way which would help you more than me.

You might try to put them out in a way that favors a certain goal (as opposed to a certain player), e.g. by covering all the red spaces with good tokens and putting all the negative tokens on non-red spaces, but then I am just as likely as you are to be dealt that goal. All you would be accomplishing is making it so that some player might have an easier game, but that player might be you, or me, or Bob.
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Peter Hall
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Right, I think it's quite a bit less of an issue if everyone is an experienced player. Really, all you can do with a strategic setup is:

1) Set up positions that you've seen before and hope your opponent(s) don't realize what you've seen play out in the past.

2) As you mention, favor one set of goal cards heavily in order to increase variance (say, for example, you think your opponent is better than you.)
 
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Michael Hamilton
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I have a random number generator (RNG) app on my phone. You can assign a number to each of the token types, and run the RNG the appropriate number of times to determine which type of token will be placed where. That's probably about as random as I can imagine you will be able to get without any human influence on the result. That is unless someone with some programming skill writes a program specific to Metropolys to do this.
 
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Russ Williams
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OK, I see a simpler way to do this if one is really obsessed about making all possible distributions equally likely (well, ignoring swapping identically valued tokens):

Take the tokens and shuffle them. Without looking, draw and assign 7 random tokens to the center and 5 tokens to each side region in play.

Now add additional neutral/dummy tokens (you'll need to create or scavenge them from elsewhere) to a region so that the total number of tokens in the region equals the number of legal places to put tokens. Now without looking as you draw, randomly assign that region's tokens to places, and remove the dummy tokens (leaving empty spaces where you put dummy tokens). Repeat that for each region.

Voila! Every theoretically possible distribution is in fact possible this way. And no decisions with knowledge of the tokens were made; it was all impartial.



But really, you don't need to do this extra work. Just putting them down haphazardly is fine.
 
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M Van Der Werf
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As statistician this part of the game slightly boggled me as well.
It's extremely hard to actually do proper random setup without using some form of RNG/dice/cards.
Humans are notoriously bad at generating random number sequences, it's very hard to do even if you try to do it as well as possible because we tend to create (perhaps by trying to avoid) patterns.
Just tossing them onto the board obviously has problems with some sort of impact area and them being closer together or whatever.

So what I like is to just take a RNG app, creating 7 non duplicate numbers out of 20 for the center and just shuffle the tokens in my hand and grab 1 by 1 for the area's using some sort of numbering which of course is irrelevant if determined before the RNG is applied. Just in case do all this before handing out objectives.

This sounds tedious but I don't want to have any advantages or not from setting up the board. If I try to do it 'non-random' myself by just picking some and putting them on the board I can't but notice immmediate impacts of some moves. For example you put a 3 points marker on a dead end area and a 3 point marker next to it, that immediately creates a spot that is almost certainly worth a '13' building right off the bat. I don't want to have those implications subconsciously impact the decisions where I put them anyway.

 
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