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Subject: Fighting AP with the DGT Cube rss

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Simon Blome
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Here is how our group manages AP while playing Terra Mystica, especially in 4 or 5-player games.

Since the game can drag quite a bit when playing with 1 or 2 newbies or AP-prone people, we decided to use a timing device similar to a chess clock, but for more than 2 players: the DGT cube.

http://dgtpyramid.nl/cube-sp-13194





You can either play with a fixed amount of time for the whole game for each player or you can set up a countdown for each move.
Normally, we do the latter with 60 seconds per move. If a player exceeds his time, he has to pay a penalty in the form of victory points (in our group usually 2 VP for exceeding the time limit and 2 more for every additional 10 seconds).
Using the DGT Cube shortened the game significantly in our 4 or 5-player games. It also led to more involvement in other players' turns, because you have to adjust your plans more quickly in response to their actions. Finally, there was also more tension overall, because of the timing pressure.

Obviously, the timer can be used for almost every game, where AP happens regularly, but since we use it frequently for TM, I wanted to share this.
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Brandon Kempf
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I still laugh every time people complain about AP, I'm just happy to have people to play with, I don't need to rush them any faster than they are comfortable with. Most people are aware enough as it is when they are "holding up" the game, I don't know that added pressure of a timer and penalties is really the step to speed them up.
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Charles Washington
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I too use this timer. Though we use the game setting allotting 25 minutes per player for the whole game at the start of round 1. If we are really pressed for time, we will include the setup round as well and add a couple of minutes.

You will shave hours off of your time. I have had my 4 player pyramid time since 2012, when I found one for $15 with shipping. Looks like the Pyramid is now $30. The 6p cube was always $50, even then. I wish I had the cube.
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Frank Hamrick
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Everyone is different. I would never play with a timer (except for Escape) . It just puts more pressure on me and I don't play games to increase pressure, but to decrease pressure. If a game is not relaxing to me, it isn't worth it.

This is not to criticize those who play that way - but it is to say that people play games for different reasons. (Of course, you won't get me into agate of Dutch Blitz either. But PIT, for some reason is a different animal!)
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Simon Blome
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Vacabck wrote:
I still laugh every time people complain about AP, I'm just happy to have people to play with, I don't need to rush them any faster than they are comfortable with. Most people are aware enough as it is when they are "holding up" the game, I don't know that added pressure of a timer and penalties is really the step to speed them up.
If AP does not occur in your gaming groups regularly or you have the time to not care about a game taking longer, that's great. For us the additional time pressure improved the experience, led to more fluent games and we have extra time for another game more often.
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Benoît Delcorps
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I frequently use the board game time app by simple tomato on my ipad for the same results.

You can try the two player implementation for free on your idevice. You have to pay to unlock the multiplayer capacities (up to 6), but it's really inexpensive ($1 if i remember correctly).

The app is really userfriendly and thought for boardgamers.

http://www.simpletomato.com/gametime/



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Ægir Æxx
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Benwa wrote:
I frequently use the board game time app by simple tomato on my ipad for the same results. You can try the two player implementation for free on your idevice. You have to pay to unlock the multiplayer capacities (up to 6), but it's really inexpensive.

The app is really userfriendly and thought for boardgamers.

http://www.simpletomato.com/gametime/
I knew they'd have an app for that!
 
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Fred Snertz
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I generally prefer to "go with my gut" and play fairly quickly rather than torture myself trying to optimize every decision. It drives me insane to wait (often in silence) while my opponent attempts to find the perfect play. I have never actually used a timer but if I can get my fellow gamers to agree I think I'd like it.
 
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Justin Dee
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I have the six player cube and am going to start using it for TM (and Eclipse) when I play with all-experienced players, from now on. Probably with the game time option though, not turn time. 30mins per player? 45?
 
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John Bradshaw
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Frank Hamrick wrote:
It just puts more pressure on me and I don't play games to increase pressure, but to decrease pressure. If a game is not relaxing to me, it isn't worth it.

I don't find anything relaxing about waiting an interminable amount of time before my turn comes round. Quite the reverse in fact. An excessively AP-prone player can destroy a gaming experience for everyone.

One or two comments against timers seem to think that their turn will be "rushed" or they will be under some sort of pressure. Not necessarily. You can set a reasonable time limit - I find that the use of a timer, in and of itself (ie without imposing penalties) serves to keep players focussed on their move and has us all playing efficiently and promptly - not at all rushed or sweating "against the clock". No-one is under pressure - the timer, when passed to a player let's him know it's his turn, and he makes a point of getting on with it.

Of course, as you say - we're all different - but for anyone whose game nights are regularly messed up by the excessively AP prone, the DGT pyramid or cube is an idea well worth trying.



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Robert Stewart
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croloris wrote:
I too use this timer. Though we use the game setting allotting 25 minutes per player for the whole game at the start of round 1. If we are really pressed for time, we will include the setup round as well and add a couple of minutes.

I'd be a little reluctant to use a per-game timer for a game like Terra Mystica where some players will have more turns than others.

How well does the clock handle temporary player elimination? I've played games where two players have traded turns back and forth for several turns each after the other players have all passed...
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Kristof Bodric
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Seghillian wrote:
An excessively AP-prone player can destroy a gaming experience for everyone.

Hear, hear!
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Brandon Kempf
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vidra wrote:
Seghillian wrote:
An excessively AP-prone player can destroy a gaming experience for everyone.

Hear, hear!

And excessively anti-AP players can destroy a gaming experience just as easily.
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Benoît Delcorps
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Vacabck wrote:
vidra wrote:
Seghillian wrote:
An excessively AP-prone player can destroy a gaming experience for everyone.

Hear, hear!

And excessively anti-AP players can destroy a gaming experience just as easily.

...only if there are AP-prone players at the table.

Some of my gaming friends belong to the fist category, others to the second...while I can play with both separately, they doeśńt mix very well... Even funnier: With the AP prone friends, i sometime pass for the anti-ap player, and my anti-ap friends tend to think i might be a bit too much of an ap-prone
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Kristof Bodric
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Vacabck wrote:
vidra wrote:
Seghillian wrote:
An excessively AP-prone player can destroy a gaming experience for everyone.

Hear, hear!

And excessively anti-AP players can destroy a gaming experience just as easily.

Not!

It's common courtesy to use downtime to ponder your next move. A somewhat longer turn is acceptable but if someone's turn consistently outlasts that of all the other players' combined, then perhaps that person may consider gardening instead as that particular hobby carries little sense of urgency.
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Vacabck wrote:
I still laugh every time people complain about AP, I'm just happy to have people to play with, I don't need to rush them any faster than they are comfortable with. Most people are aware enough as it is when they are "holding up" the game, I don't know that added pressure of a timer and penalties is really the step to speed them up.

Yeah, I agree. I play with more than a few people who are AP prone and know they are, but I like playing with them because they are great competitors and great people. I could never use a timer with them.
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Robert Stewart
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vidra wrote:
Vacabck wrote:
vidra wrote:
Seghillian wrote:
An excessively AP-prone player can destroy a gaming experience for everyone.

Hear, hear!

And excessively anti-AP players can destroy a gaming experience just as easily.

Not!

It's common courtesy to use downtime to ponder your next move. A somewhat longer turn is acceptable but if someone's turn consistently outlasts that of all the other players' combined, then perhaps that person may consider gardening instead as that particular hobby carries little sense of urgency.

It depends on the context - social gamers would argue that it's common courtesy to take part in the discussions around you and focusing on the game even when you don't have an immediate decision to make is being discourteous by ignoring the people you're playing with...
 
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Kristof Bodric
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rmsgrey wrote:
vidra wrote:
Vacabck wrote:
vidra wrote:
Seghillian wrote:
An excessively AP-prone player can destroy a gaming experience for everyone.

Hear, hear!

And excessively anti-AP players can destroy a gaming experience just as easily.

Not!

It's common courtesy to use downtime to ponder your next move. A somewhat longer turn is acceptable but if someone's turn consistently outlasts that of all the other players' combined, then perhaps that person may consider gardening instead as that particular hobby carries little sense of urgency.

It depends on the context - social gamers would argue that it's common courtesy to take part in the discussions around you and focusing on the game even when you don't have an immediate decision to make is being discourteous by ignoring the people you're playing with...

Agreed. I'm not a social gamer, though. Dominant Species and Twilight Struggle require one's full attention. I'm there for the game, so I suppose I was speaking from my perspective.
 
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Brandon Kempf
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vidra wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
vidra wrote:
Vacabck wrote:
vidra wrote:
Seghillian wrote:
An excessively AP-prone player can destroy a gaming experience for everyone.

Hear, hear!

And excessively anti-AP players can destroy a gaming experience just as easily.

Not!

It's common courtesy to use downtime to ponder your next move. A somewhat longer turn is acceptable but if someone's turn consistently outlasts that of all the other players' combined, then perhaps that person may consider gardening instead as that particular hobby carries little sense of urgency.

It depends on the context - social gamers would argue that it's common courtesy to take part in the discussions around you and focusing on the game even when you don't have an immediate decision to make is being discourteous by ignoring the people you're playing with...

Agreed. I'm not a social gamer, though. Dominant Species and Twilight Struggle require one's full attention. I'm there for the game, so I suppose I was speaking from my perspective.

And if I wasn't in it for the social aspect, I'd just play a video game.

Both of those games you mentioned can be fantastic social games as well as being competitive. Competition doesn't have to be mutually exclusive from Social interactivity.
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Kristof Bodric
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Vacabck wrote:
vidra wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
vidra wrote:
Vacabck wrote:
vidra wrote:
Seghillian wrote:
An excessively AP-prone player can destroy a gaming experience for everyone.

Hear, hear!

And excessively anti-AP players can destroy a gaming experience just as easily.

Not!

It's common courtesy to use downtime to ponder your next move. A somewhat longer turn is acceptable but if someone's turn consistently outlasts that of all the other players' combined, then perhaps that person may consider gardening instead as that particular hobby carries little sense of urgency.

It depends on the context - social gamers would argue that it's common courtesy to take part in the discussions around you and focusing on the game even when you don't have an immediate decision to make is being discourteous by ignoring the people you're playing with...

Agreed. I'm not a social gamer, though. Dominant Species and Twilight Struggle require one's full attention. I'm there for the game, so I suppose I was speaking from my perspective.

And if I wasn't in it for the social aspect, I'd just play a video game.

Both of those games you mentioned can be fantastic social games as well as being competitive. Competition doesn't have to be mutually exclusive from Social interactivity.

To each his own. You like chatting while board gaming, I don't. I don't see either of the above games as anything but fierce competition. To me the social aspect of board gaming, though not completely unimportant, is tertiary at best. That's my personal bias and I am in no way implying it should be like that for you, but it works just fine for my group and myself.

You say if it weren't for the social aspect, you'd play a video game. Similarly, if I was in it for the social aspect, I'd just play Bang! or Liar's dice or something not requiring any meaningful focus. Simply a matter of taste. If you are not bothered by AP, that's just fine. I personally am looking for a different quality in gaming and do not enjoy waiting for my turn longer than necessary, especially if it can be helped, by, say, paying attention or considering multiple options during the other players' turns.
 
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John Bradshaw
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The issue was AP, Analysis PARALYSIS let's remind ourselves, not social gaming. By definition AP is a bad thing - (paralysis - right?) and efforts to curtail a bad thing are surely welcome? Such efforts should be seen in a positive light. They must be mutually agreed upon (OBVIOUSLY), and therefore not impose too much burden on players such that they feel overly hurried.

I dislike the idea of a per turn limit. There are often crucial points in a game where a player needs to take a little more time, so I'd be more in favour of a system that looks at the total time a player takes in a game.

When I've used the timer, we simply divided the VPs by the total time taken per player. There was thus effectively two different victory conditions, most points, and most points per minute, which often gave the same result, but occasionally produced 2 different outcomes, and thus 2 players could take something from the game, the higher VP per turn player claiming some sort of "moral victory" if not the actual game win.

The point is that no-one was hurried. There was no attempt to create a "blitz" game. If a player needed time over a turn, s/he took it - there was no limit set. And, as for the social element, where a break was needed, the timer was simply set in it's "rest" position so it wasn't counting time for anyone. This was done if and when rules were consulted or discussion happening, or a drink being taken, whatever. But the overall outcome was that people played with just that little bit of extra discipline which enabled the game to flow better. It also helped those who seem to drift off to sleep in a game - "oh - is it my turn? I didn't realise" - you know it's your turn because the timer is sitting in front of you.

I can't see why anyone could have any objection to such a system - it can only change a game for the better if a timer is used in this way. Those who need lots of time can still take it, but I've found that the very fact that a timer is in place, somehow cuts down the amount of time people "need". Players just seemed to play a little more efficiently - not rushed - just more focussed on what they were doing. At times when I needed more time over my own move, I actually felt more relaxed about taking it, knowing that the time would be held against me rather than the glare of my fellow gamers!



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Robert Stewart
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Not thinking about your turn in advance isn't AP - AP is when you try to decide what to do with your turn and get stuck instead, whether you blue-screened on your turn or on someone else's...

You can't really prevent AP - if someone can't decide what to do, they can't decide what to do, and getting them started on it sooner just means they're stuck for longer (particularly for a game with a reasonably high branching-number - where the number of possibilities to consider grows rapidly with each additional turn you try to anticipate).

What you can do is attack AP's close cousin - slow play - where a player doesn't suffer from full-blown AP, but instead just takes a while to think through their options, making progress all the while. That can be hurried by getting them thinking before their turn (or as soon as the previous player's turn ends).

I tend to favour having one or more players prompting people when they have a decision to make - passing a current-player marker can do that if people remember to pass it (in BSG, I don't bother with the current-player marker because people almost never remember to pass it on)
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Brandon Kempf
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Absolutely they are two separate things. But ultimately for some, they both slow down the game too much it seems.

By the way, we don't call it Analysis Paralysis around here, it's known as Analytical Perfection.

 
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Eric Phillips
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I expect there's an awful lot of overlap between those who are unusually prone to AP and those for whom a timer would ruin the gaming experience.
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James Myers
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After this thread I got a cube and we played a couple games of Terra Mystica with it. Really cool! 90 seconds turns is pretty fast, and our game got done about an hour faster. I'm a bit AP prone myself, but I really like the tension [and mistakes] that happen from having limited decision time. It changes the game in a fun way! Thanks for the thread.
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