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Subject: Bag Variant rss

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James Clarke
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(Variant inspired by a suggestion made by Matt Logan)

If you're not happy with the way your Cube Tower behaves, leave it in the box and try this instead.
The Bag Variant requires just a small bag to draw cubes from.

INITIAL SET UP:
- Place 1 cube of each colour into the bag.
- Place the rest of the cubes (6 of each) in their respective places around the action circuit.

EACH TURN
- Remove all cubes of the next colour from the action circuit and drop them into the bag (1st turn = blue).
- Draw randomly from the bag, a number of cubes equal to the number dropped in.
- Determine cube actions in the usual manner.
- Move all drawn cubes as usual, to their respective places on the action circuit.

The results of a trial of 3 rounds are presented below:

Round 1:
6Blue => 5Blue + 1Brwn
6Blck => 3Blck + 1Rd + 1Yllw + 1Wht
7Rd => 3Blck + 3Rd + 1Grn
7Brwn => 2Blue + 2Rd + 3Brwn
7Grn => 1Rd + 2Brwn + 4Grn
7Yllw => 1Blck + 2Brwn + 1Grn + 3Yllw
7Wht => 1Rd + 1Grn + 3Yllw + 2Wht

Round 2:
7Blue => 4Blue + 1Grn + 2Wht
7Blck => 1Blue + 4Blck + 2Wht
7Rd => 1Blue + 1Blck + 5Rd
7Brwn => 1Blue + 2Rd + 4Brwn
7Grn => 1Blck + 2Brwn + 4Grn
6Yllw => 1Brwn + 1Grn + 4Yllw
6Wht => 1Grn + 5Wht

Round 3:
7Blue => 4Blue + 1Grn + 1Yllw + 1Wht
6Blck => 1Blue + 3Blck + 1Yllw + 1Wht
7Rd => 1Blue + 3Blck + 3Rd
7Brwn => 2Rd + 4Brwn + 1Yllw
7Grn => 1Rd + 1Brwn + 5Grn
7Yllw => 1Blck + 1Brwn + 2Grn + 3Yllw
7Wht => 1Blue + 1Rd + 1Brwn + 1Yllw + 3Wht

Edit:

Summary:
Action Points - Range 3 to 5, Average 3.8 action points per turn
Colour Choices – Range 2 to 5, Average 3.3 colour choices per turn





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Curt Carpenter
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Highland Cow wrote:
- Draw randomly from the bag, a number of cubes equal to the number dropped in.

Great idea! So simple!

I'd totally be up for trying that.
 
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Sheldon Smith
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Holy Towering Toledos, Batman...
I think we've found ourselves the answer right here!

Yes, it may not be as "cool" as the tower but it appears the freaking bag WORKS :-) That being said, we would never have cases where there are no actions (maybe not a bad thing). I do like how the bag maintains the flow of drawing based on the number of cubes going in. It seems the results from the bag are far superior to the results from the tower so far.

As for the size of Amerigo's box. Obviously, it's because of the extra storage involved for the constructed tower. It would almost be a shame to store a gamebox that is literally over double the size of a normal game and not even use the device. But I think I would prefer a working bag anyday over an unworking tower. So simple and elegant too... and no dice necessary. Wait a minute! A random Feld game with NO DICE?
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Jonathan Degann
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Funny - this had occurred to me but I rejected it because the tower will virtually guarantee that many of the cubes you put in will come out, whereas with the bag method all cubes are equal.

However, if experimentation shows it works - who am I to be a naysayer?

I think the bag is equal to a "working" tower as long as the tower isn't expected to hold many cubes. If many cubes were in the tower/bag then there would be a good chance of not drawing the current phase's color. Additionally, you'd have less long runs of a single color, thus causing the number of actions available to decline.

I still want to hear from Feld or Queen. If I don't in a week, I may email Nikki directly.
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James Clarke
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Jonathan Degann wrote:
If many cubes were in the tower/bag then there would be a good chance of not drawing the current phase's color. Additionally, you'd have less long runs of a single color, thus causing the number of actions available to decline.

The bag starts with 7 cubes and finishes every turn with 7 cubes.

I also experimented with 14 and 21 cubes in the bag, but the results were too diluted (i.e too many colours came out and not enough action points).

 
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TJ
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Jonathan Degann wrote:
Funny - this had occurred to me but I rejected it because the tower will virtually guarantee that many of the cubes you put in will come out, whereas with the bag method all cubes are equal


Statistically, it actually works out in this variant for the dropped in color to still be the majority color that comes out.

* There are always 7 cubes in the bag, since you always take out as many as you put in.
* You can only put in at most 7 cubes to the bag of the same color, which means the most you'd ever draw from is 14 cubes.
* If you draw 7 cubes from a bag containing 7 green cubes and 7 non-green cubes, you will draw out 3.5 green cubes on average
* If you generalize this, you'll find that if you draw X cubes from a bag containing 7 green cubes and X non-green cubes (remember, any cubes you don't drop in already are in the bag!), you'll find that on average you'll draw roughly half green cubes, and half non-green cubes

Edit - If you want more action points, but less color choices, seed the bag with less cubes. If you want more color choices, but less action points, seed the bag with more cubes.

Edit 2 - Somebody PM'ed me about my statement that roughly half the cubes will on average be the color dropped in. Since we know X is a whole number between 1 and 7, here's what you'll get on average:

X = 7, 3.5 cubes, realistically 3-4 cubes
X = 6, 3.23 cubes, realistically 3-4 cubes
X = 5, 2.91 cubes, realistically 2-3 cubes
X = 4, 2.55 cubes, realistically 2-3 cubes
X = 3, 2.1 cubes, realistically 2-3 cubes
X = 2, 1.5 cubes, realistically 1-2 cubes
X = 1, .875 cubes, realistically 0-1 cubes

So it's roughly half the cubes you drop in for when you drop in 5-7, roughly half the cubes you drop in plus 1 for when you drop in 1-4.
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Jon Ben
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Of course I've been up all night! Not because of caffeine, it was insomnia. I couldn't stop thinking about coffee.
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This will maybe-probably address the issues people are having with their expectations regarding the tower.

Cynicism aside. I do think this is a variant worthy of consideration.
 
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Jon Ben
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Of course I've been up all night! Not because of caffeine, it was insomnia. I couldn't stop thinking about coffee.
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Slyght wrote:
* If you generalize this, you'll find that if you draw X cubes from a bag containing 7 green cubes and 7-X non-green cubes (remember, any cubes you don't drop in already are in the bag!), you'll find that on average you'll draw roughly half green cubes, and half non-green cubes


There are X non-green cubes in the bag. Not 7-X...

The bag has 7 cubes in it, then I add X more for a total of 7+X. However, we know all 7 green cubes are in there, that leaves X non-green cubes.
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TJ
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JonBen wrote:

There are X non-green cubes in the bag. Not 7-X...

The bag has 7 cubes in it, then I add X more for a total of 7+X. However, we know all 7 green cubes are in there, that leaves X non-green cubes.


Yup, that was a typo, thanks for pointing that out.
 
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Mathue Faulkner
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I think it's still a little high on average action points per turn. It's a bit higher than the reported B flip, but a decent amount lower than standard. I personally feel like the B flip is a little higher than my ideal. I'd like to see the average closer to 4 APs/turn with a loose standard deviation...

Edit: If you have the same goal in mind as I do, I wonder if you could just remove 1 cube of each color from the game, and then play the variant as you proposed.

Redacted. I made some faulty calculations. I still would like to see a bit more of a spread though. Those 2 AP turns every once in awhile make for some interesting decisions, as do the 6 AP turns....

Pretty solid work otherwise though. Fortunately, I'm not that dissatisfied with my cube tower quite yet...
 
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Evgeni Liakhovich
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mfaulk80 wrote:
I think it's still a little high on average action points per turn. It's a bit higher than the reported B flip, but a decent amount lower than standard. I personally feel like the B flip is a little higher than my ideal. I'd like to see the average closer to 4 APs/turn with a loose standard deviation...


His average is 3.76...
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Mathue Faulkner
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Glad8r wrote:
mfaulk80 wrote:
I think it's still a little high on average action points per turn. It's a bit higher than the reported B flip, but a decent amount lower than standard. I personally feel like the B flip is a little higher than my ideal. I'd like to see the average closer to 4 APs/turn with a loose standard deviation...


His average is 3.76...

Ah. I did that calculation in my head while I was a bit preoccupied.
 
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Evgeni Liakhovich
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Somebody needs to actually Play this variant before making conclusions..

One issue I see is the (almost) constant number of cubes coming out of the bag, with 7 being the maximum.

This makes Gold action weaker.
This also makes some progress tiles weaker/less interesting (cubes -> gold, cubes -> VP).

Furthermore, I suspect that since there will be fewer "surprises", the overall excitement may take a hit.

That said, it should be possible to further improve this variant.

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Mathue Faulkner
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Glad8r wrote:
Somebody needs to actually Play this variant before making conclusions..

One issue I see is the (almost) constant number of cubes coming out of the bag, with 7 being the maximum.

This makes Gold action weaker.
This also makes some progress tiles weaker/less interesting (cubes -> gold, cubes -> VP).

That said, it should be possible to further improve this variant.


Good point on the Gold, and those tiles.

It may actually make the game a bit less interesting if there are too many choices as well. As it is now, in that first round, if you don't sail on the 1st turn, then you don't know if you're going to get the chance later. With this variant, I'd feel pretty safe knowing that I'd be able to do that later. For that reason, it also weakens tiles like red=green because the chances to perform those actions come up way more frequently. It just seems like too many options..
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Sheldon Smith
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Jonathan Degann wrote:
If many cubes were in the tower/bag then there would be a good chance of not drawing the current phase's color.


Hi Jon,

I hope all is well with you! No surprise you and I have found each other floating around on this subject. But I wanted to respond to this comment.

In theory, your statement is absolutely correct. But this is under the assumption the cube tower works how you and I imagine it *SHOULD* work. And that is... if lots of cubes are in the tower, in theory if you dump in a handful of cubes they should theoretically displace the pre-existing cubes forcing them out while leaving the new cubes stuck inside.

The problem is the tower doesn't appear to physically work that way. If you throw in 5 greens, these cubes will dance around (NOT push others out and stay in). 3-5 will come out while MAYBE pushing a couple out along with. But it would be awesome if 5 greens went in and what we saw come out were 4 browns, 2 blues, 1 yellow, and 1 red!

I don't recall if Wallenstein/Shogun had more of a "pushing" effect, but right now the best game that offers that is Via Appia. Ironically, it looks like that device works a lot better than this tower. :-\
 
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TonyKR
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I haven't had a chance to play Amerigo yet, but I have seen mention of some faulty towers (). The bag seems like a decent way to mitigate some of the problems, but like Evgeni said, you're always drawing a constant number. Maybe use a fudge die and 2d6 and +/- the difference between the two, with no effect if the fudge die is blank? And besides, you gotta find a way to reintroduce a handful of dice into a Feld....
 
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Evgeni Liakhovich
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mfaulk80 wrote:

Good point on the Gold, and those tiles.

It may actually make the game a bit less interesting if there are too many choices as well. As it is now, in that first round, if you don't sail on the 1st turn, then you don't know if you're going to get the chance later. With this variant, I'd feel pretty safe knowing that I'd be able to do that later. For that reason, it also weakens tiles like red=green because the chances to perform those actions come up way more frequently. It just seems like too many options..


Exactly, it's just too heavy handed, with too many side effects, some of which aren't ever discovered because nobody tried it.

I'd like to see more fiddling around with this variant however, out of curiosity (I'm happy with the tower). One idea I have is to add "junk" cubes into the mix (say, gray color). Something along the lines of this - always make sure there are 6 of them in the bag at the beginning of each phase. Draw number of cubes thrown in plus say 3. Gray cubes that come out - count for nothing.
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Sheldon Smith
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mfaulk80 wrote:
Those 2 AP turns every once in awhile make for some interesting decisions, as do the 6 AP turns


Those are my sentiments too. That's the only downside to using The Bag. If The Tower could produce a couple rounds that offered 0-2 AP's (and 6-7 AP's) it would feel like a better mix. I think more importantly than the AP's is the variety of choices with an average of at least 3 different actions per turn. The other concern I have with The Bag is that it might reduce the benefit of exchanging ALL cubes for gold (rounding up).

Right now The Bag appears to be the lesser of the 2 evils, but I'm still rooting for The Tower in hopes it can be fixed. I'm going to run at least one test later tonight, and will post the results. I'm actually thinking about only flipping the "A" panel - mainly because I liked the idea of how you stated it held more cubes throughout the game.

With both A&B installed as-is, I was only getting the tower to hold 7-9 cubes at the end of every round. I don't think that's nearly enough.
 
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James Clarke
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I'm flattered by all the interesting comments and suggestions made thus far.

I should point out however, that my variant is not an attempt to replicate a cube tower. After all, how could it be, I don't know how a tower is supposed to perform? I am therefore faintly amused by the suggestions on how to fix the variant.

So please take my variant at face value, it is what it is; a variant. Like all variants, it is posted at risk of being shot down in flames. Given that it is completely untested, I have my parachute (and spare) at the ready.

Thank you.
 
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Steve Duff
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Seems like way too much variance the opposite way to me. You never have any turns where there are just 2 actions, or 1 action.

There should be *some* of those.
 
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Seems like way too much variance the opposite way to me. You never have any turns where there are just 2 actions, or 1 action.

There should be *some* of those.

2 action choices cropped up twice. 1 action choice doesn't sound like much fun.
 
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Sheldon Smith
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To echo Doug's feelings, too many rounds where players only have 1 (or 2) viable actions is probably not a good thing. However, I do agree with Steve - for there needs to me at least SOME of those. While it may not seem "fun" on the surface, these moments of randomness (if the tower is properly calibrated) can likely lead to the QUALITY "happy groans" of a great game.

The tower does have potential to "pop" more than the bag. The bag, on the other hand, will likely be more consistent - but at least not too much in a "stale" way. The results posted so far prove to be a good option.
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Jonathan Degann
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FWIW, I examined the Amerigo tower vs. the Wallenstein tower this evening.

The positioning of the holes is identical. The difference is that in Wallenstein the lower net is concave up.

The Wallenstein tower definitely will hold more cubes. I spilled all 49 cubes into each several times and counted the quantity that remained. For Amerigo it was 6-7-7-11. For Wallenstein it was 11-13-17-18.

I'm not sure the Wallenstein tower would make for a better game, and it may be that the Amerigo tower holds fewer by design. I used the W. tower to play as in Amerigo. I found that Wallenstein tended to hold many cubes for a long time. There was moderate reliability that if you tossed blue in, and then black and then red, you'd find blue continuing to come out. However, the quantity of actions you could expect were low - often 3 maybe 4.
 
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James Clarke
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EyeInSky wrote:
To echo Doug's feelings, too many rounds where players only have 1 (or 2) viable actions is probably not a good thing. However, I do agree with Steve - for there needs to me at least SOME of those.

Whilst I realise that this is what a tower does, I'm not seeing why the game especially "needs" zero option turns (gold taking aside). Having no option isn't usually regarded as a positive game attribute.

I'm biased of course, but I'm claiming this comparison as +1 for the bag.


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James Clarke
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Bag not sexy enough for you ?

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