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Subject: The Pregame Treatment of Exhibition Cards--Unnecessary and Tedious? rss

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Brad Musil
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Let me be clear before I say anything else: I am basing the following on 2-player games only.

According to the rules for a 2-player game, you need to divvy the draw deck into three equal piles before the game begins, then shuffle all of the exhibition cards into the second pile. Then properly form the draw deck, etc., etc.

Having played this a few times recently, I have come to the conclusion that this pregame process seems unnecessary and tedious. Why not just shuffle all of the cards together and form one draw deck, which is much quicker?

Plus, with the actual rules, we end up drawing an inordinate number of exhibition cards in a short span of time once we hit that second stack. It's annoying, because you have to cycle all of the exhibition cards at bottom of the board each time. This would be alright if it was happening more periodically, but, with the actual rules, the exhibitions come out in a cluster.

So...what is gained by delaying their appearance? If someone has the requisite dig tokens for an exhibition early on, why not allow them to snag it? I must be missing something. Anyone care to enlighten me as to the reason for this design decision?

PS--A bonus issue...do any of you Thebes experts even find the exhibitions worthwhile? Again, speaking exclusively from the perspective of 2-player games, they don't seem worth it. Digging (or acquiring knowledge) always seems to be a much more lucrative option. Maybe this is something that really does hinge on the number of players, as more players would seem to mean less treasures available and, hence, a greater need to solicit points via other means...
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David Combs
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First, there are two levels of exhibition cards, small and large. The small exhibition cards get shuffled into the 2nd pile and the large get shuffled into the 3rd pile. This is done so that all the small ones come out before the large ones. The first pile is stacked on top of the second pile, giving players time to find artifacts before the exhibitions come out. Then once you go through the stack of the first and second piles, you shuffle the discard pile with the third pile, which will bring out the large exhibition cards along with any small ones that were discarded.

Second, exhibitions can be worthwhile since you don't turn in the required artifacts needed to claim an exhibition tile. Once you have the required artifacts shown on an exhibition card, go to the city listed on the card and spend the time listed on the card and you get the card.

Now in a 2-player game, I can see the exhibition cards not being as lucrative since you will have at least 3 chances to dig at each site provided you have the knowledge. But if you can get at least 3 artifacts of each color, then you'll be able to claim any of the exhibition cards when they show up.
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Brad Musil
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dhc3po wrote:
First, there are two levels of exhibition cards, small and large. The small exhibition cards get shuffled into the 2nd pile and the large get shuffled into the 3rd pile. This is done so that all the small ones come out before the large ones. The first pile is stacked on top of the second pile, giving players time to find artifacts before the exhibitions come out. Then once you go through the stack of the first and second piles, you shuffle the discard pile with the third pile, which will bring out the large exhibition cards along with any small ones that were discarded.


This doesn't apply to 2-player games. All exhibition cards are simply shuffled into the second stack.

I suppose I do see the point behind waiting for them to appear, since otherwise they could all theoretically appear at the very beginning, in which case most would be cycled through before players are able to acquire them.

Still, I think I'd rather just accept that possibility then endure the pregame tedium (which, admittedly, isn't that bad) and the annoyance of the clusters I referenced in my original post (these would be less likely if all cards were simply shuffled together to form one big deck).

Also, for what it's worth, in our 2-player games, we never get to the third stack of cards.
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David Combs
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I just re-looked at the rules and I forgot about that 2 player setup. It's been a couple years since I've played a 2 player game. I still think there worth it if you have the required number of artifacts, more so towards the end of the game when the bags are low in artifacts. You're guaranteed 4 or 5 points for your 3 or 4 time, when you could spend that much time digging and pull up all dirt.

I suppose in a 2-player game it wouldn't hurt to just shuffle them in the whole deck, though I find it doesn't take that much time to set the deck up. In my first few games I used count out the cards to split the deck into 3 equal piles. Then I realized that I could just eyeball it and it works just as well. You could try just spliting the deck in 2 with one pile slightly bigger. Shuffle the exhibitions in the bigger pile andput that at the bottom.

This has got me thinking though. I've never set out it get exhibition cards in my games, they've usually just been a lucky break when one come out that I can get or am close to having the required artifacts. In my next game I might try to get at least 3 of each color and then go after as many exhibitions as I can get. I don't know it would be worth it in a 2 player game, but could work in a 3-4 player game.

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Brad Musil
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dhc3po wrote:

This has got me thinking though. I've never set out it get exhibition cards in my games, they've usually just been a lucky break when one come out that I can get or am close to having the required artifacts. In my next game I might try to get at least 3 of each color and then go after as many exhibitions as I can get. I don't know it would be worth it in a 2 player game, but could work in a 3-4 player game.



Interesting--let me know how that strategy works. The more I think about it, the more I think that the utility of exhibitions hinges on the number of people playing. With two, they don't seem nearly as valuable. Honestly, I can't remember anyone ever getting one in a game I've played (again, all 2-player games). The only instance I could see myself getting one in a 2-player game is if the circumstances were just right (i.e. I happen to be in the appropriate city, etc.). However, in a game with more players, I could see them being much more valuable.

I'm thinking about adding a bonus to the player with the most exhibitions next time my daughter and I play.

I'm still not sure where I stand on the pregame construction of the deck. In any case, thanks for your reflections!
 
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Matěj Jan Morávek
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We also play a lot of two player game and I always shuffle it by thirds with small ex. in the second pile and big ex. in the third. We usually get to the third third of deck, maybe we do a lot of "change it all" moves.
The preparation is easy, I just separate the cards from previous game onto three piles one card at a time, having in the end three semi-random piles ready for adding the exhibitions. This way you usually get rid of "veins" of one color knowledge.
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