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Subject: Alternate scoring scheme rss

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J. M. Lopez-Cepero "CP"
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Hi all

I like this game a lot, but I have a problem - namely, that people are universally unable to wrap their heads around the way scoring works until having played a few games, and I'm sadly unable to convince most of them that it's worth to try playing a second or third time.

I have been giving some thought to changing the scoring variant to a simpler scheme - namely, one where all scoring was positive (doing away with the mid-game score nixing) and where it was easier to see how things were going. I was thinking along these lines:

d10-1 Placing a lettered Spot AND serving it with a Station gives 6 points to the player who placed it. (This compensates the -6 penalty for not placing them in the original rules).
d10-2 Stations score normally. (1 point per touched Spot when newly placed).
d10-3 Terminating a line gives 4 points. You may not finish a line without at least 3 stations. (This assumes that, on average, players will reach 8 Spots due to their station placement between their 2 lines, and rebuilds the half/full loss of score from there. The 3 stations rule is to avoid players terminating the game too early).
d10-4 "Positive" test scoring remains the same - 3 or 6 points for every player which participates in at least one of the fastest routes, depending on whether they placed at least one of the involved Spots or not.
d10-5 "Negative" test scoring is eliminated save for the case in which the 2 spots have a station but there's no route between them - in that case both players lose 6 points.

Some further thoughts to simplify the scoring:

When placing a lettered spot, if there's no station already serving it, add and score one for free. This means that the "lettered spot without a station" case can be removed from the scoring.

Remove the penalty for unconnected tests. Instead, allow players to keep playing, even if some of them have finished their 2 lines, until the network is completely connected and/or all lettered spots have been placed.

So a full, dramatically simplified variant would be:

Placing a lettered spot gives no points by itself. But, if there's no station already serving it, add and score one for free in one of the 2 corners joined by the player's line.
When finishing a line, gain 4 points.
When placing a new station, gain 1 point per touched Spot.
The network is considered COMPLETE when at least 6 of the 8 lettered spots have been placed AND all stations in the network are connected to each other, and INCOMPLETE otherwise.
If the network is INCOMPLETE, the game ends when all players are unable to place more tunnels (because they're blocked or finished) or there are no more stations left.
If the network is COMPLETE, the game ends when a player has finished his 2 lines, 5 or more lines become blocked, or there are no more stations left. The game also ends if the network becomes COMPLETE while one or more of these conditions are met.
At end of game, all players except the one who triggered it get one last turn. Then, players with unplaced lettered spots are eliminated from the game. For the rest of the players, tests are run and scored normally, except without penalties for incomplete tests.

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