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Subject: Taking Tableau Games Where They've Never Gone Before rss

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linoleum blownaparte
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What Is Tableau-Building?

Race for the Galaxy coined the term 'tableau'

Let me borrow this excellent definition:

"Players each have their own area, known as their tableau, in which they can place cards (or tiles or whatever the game uses). These cards provide some sort of mechanical benefit to the owning player... This can take many forms such as providing additional actions or boosting an existing action. The benefits will often stack and synergize with each other providing incentive to play cards that work well together. The gradual build up of pieces is often comparable to building an engine. Each new piece that is brought in to play interacts with the previous pieces in a way that makes things easier and more efficient for the player. Developing a tableau creates the impression of becoming more powerful as the game progresses."

Two Ingredients Of Tableau-Building

A tableau-building game needs to define two things: How you add cards to your tableau; and how cards are triggered once they are in your tableau. I will try to be exhaustive in listing the options which means describing possible games that don't exist yet! If you have an example of a game that does something differently please tell me and I'll add it to the list.



1. How you add cards to your tableau.

Card treadmill. As seen in: Through The Ages, Eight-Minute Empire, Suburbia. Players purchase cards from a common pool and cards that have been around longer become cheaper.

Round draft. As seen in: 7 Wonders. Pick a card from your hand to add to your tableau and pass the remaining cards to your opponents.

Auction. As seen in: The Speicherstadt, Fleet. Bid for cards to add to your tableau.

General store. As seen in: Dominion, Endeavor. A store of cards is available from the start of the game; spend resources (or free once-per-turn choice) to select any card for your tableau.

Hand management. As seen in: Race for the Galaxy, San Juan, Deus. Sacrifice cards to add other cards to your tableau.

Other???



2. How cards are triggered once they are in your tableau.

A tableau game needs rules to determine how these new actions and new effects will come into play. Many card effects, like bonuses and discounts, are simply passive - they are "always on". Any time you do something that would incur a bonus or discount or special effect, it simply happens.

Other cards permit new actions - things you couldn't do before but are now enabled by the cards. Here are some options for how these new actions can affect play...

Resource cost. All of your tableau-actions are available, but there is a resource cost (see Magic: The Gathering's mana abilities), or a worker-placement minigame (see Endeavor). Thus, you can activate any card(s) you want, but must work within a budget for total activations.

Choose a subset. In Deus you may construct a building card (of one of 5 colors) every turn. This automatically triggers the actions on all previously constructed cards of the same color; while off-color cards remain 'dormant.' So every turn you must choose "which color do I want to activate?"

Choose a subset (affects everyone). In Race for the Galaxy you pick a phase to activate (e.g. "Explore"); this activates all "Explore"-linked actions on cards in every player's tableau. This is like Deus, but affects every player.

Random subset (deckbuilding; also dice or other methods??). As in Dominion. You only have access to a random segment of your tableau's actions every turn because your tableau is stacked to form a deck. This could also be implemented Settlers Of Catan-style: each card would have a number from 2-12 and you roll 2 dice before your turn to see which cards in your tableau can be activated.

Subset predetermined by game?? The game engine determines which actions are available. For example, imagine a werewolf-themed game with alternating Night and Day turns; your tableau consists of cards placed in Night and Day columns, and on any given Night turn you can only use actions on cards in the Night column, while the Day cards are dormant. There would perhaps be some cards that automatically go in one column or the other, while other cards would be nonspecific and allow you to pick a column to place them in.

Players bid/conflict to determine subset?? Similar to above "werewolf" concept, except players have the ability to bid or spend resources to make Days longer / Nights shorter or vice versa, thus indirectly affecting the utility of cards. The phase selection frequency in Race for the Galaxy has a somewhat similar effect to this (you can guarantee a particular phase will happen / you can predict which phases will happen with higher frequency by observing other players' strategies).

Permanently activate subset parts on individual cards. This is Ignacy Trzewiczek's quirky mechanic used in Imperial Settlers and 51st State. Each card has up to 3 action powers, and your tableau has 3 regions; by playing the card to a chosen region, one of the action powers becomes enabled and the others become permanently dormant and ignored (by sliding the dormant part of the card under the player mat).

Other??
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Tiamat
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Does this definition exclude cards in tableau that add constraints or weaknesses?

I'm thinking in particular of the threat markers from Bruges (which aren't cards but probably could have been), or the terrain placement restrictions in Peloponnes where you can place one tile which bars you from placing other tiles next to it.
 
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Jay Treat
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Is Magic: The Gathering a tableau-building game?
 
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Nate Straight

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Quote:
Race for the Galaxy coined the term 'tableau'

Um, no.
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Dennis McCarthy
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Are you simply trying to describe the General Store concept with Dominion or are you trying to imply that Dominion is a tableau building game?

I believe that in no way can Dominion be described as a tableau-building game. Tableau means that there is a permanent set of effects that you are building. I think that Puerto Rico would have been a better example to use.
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Dennis McCarthy
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jtreat wrote:
Is Magic: The Gathering a tableau-building game?

That's a good question, but I believe that the answer is no. Nothing that comes to the table in MtG is meant to be an indestructible object.
 
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David Brock
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One of my favourite games (and where's my third expansion!!?!!?) is Innovation and is a great tableau builder.

I was wondering if you would fit this into your current descriptions, or may need to expand.
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Rob Harper
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Brutilus wrote:
That's a good question, but I believe that the answer is no. Nothing that comes to the table in MtG is meant to be an indestructible object.

I don't think being indestructible is really a criterion of objects in a tableau.

But I would agree with your general assessment of MtG: creatures are troops to be expended; lands and some other permanents may be considered to form a tableau, but usually a one-dimensional one and I don't think it is enough to make Magic into a tableau building game. Particularly as the objective of the game has nothing to do with building a tableau.

...Which brings me to a thought: in general, I wouldn't describe a game as being a tableau-building game unless building a tableau was something that you had to do to win the game.
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Steven Tu
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Does it matter what name you call a bunch of games?

What I mean is, if you're trying to get a definition down for the sake of... Re-inventing a genre, explore new territories, whatever, cool.

Does it matter what you or Bob or Amy call Magic?
 
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Stephen Williams
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polyobsessive wrote:

But I would agree with your general assessment of MtG: creatures are troops to be expended; lands and some other permanents may be considered to form a tableau, but usually a one-dimensional one and I don't think it is enough to make Magic into a tableau building game. Particularly as the objective of the game has nothing to do with building a tableau.

...Which brings me to a thought: in general, I wouldn't describe a game as being a tableau-building game unless building a tableau was something that you had to do to win the game.

In Magic, you win by depleting your opponent's life. Putting cards into play is not required, in and of itself, to win the game. However, putting cards into play certainly helps with that objective.

In 7 Wonders (an example of tableau-buildings given above), you win by scoring the most victory points at the end of the game. The cards you put into play certainly help you with that objective.

I'm not trying to be difficult here, honest. I don't even play Magic anymore so I really don't care if it's qualified as a tableau building game or not. However, if building your tableau equates to putting cards into play to gain power and achieve victory, I don't really see the difference which makes tableau building an essential element of the latter, but not of the former.

I could understand saying that Magic is a much more simplistic tableau building game than 7 Wonders, or perhaps that tableau building is one (minor) component of Magic's game play, but I guess I'm missing the quintessential bit of the definition which excludes Magic entirely.
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Rob Harper
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I think that when you start trying to define rigid boundaries for definitions of what is what, that way madness lies. There will always be something that doesn't fit, or someone who disagrees with a definition. (Case in point: try defining what a game is and watch the world crashing down around you.)

It can be interesting to categorise things, though, as long as you are happy with fuzzy and porous set boundaries.
 
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W Scott Grant
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I have to agree that trying to pin down the exact definition of "tableau" will be rather difficult, as everyone will have different ideas.

Dominion was used as an example, but the only thing persistent in Dominion is the player's deck. By this definition, Magic is a Tableau game. For that matter, so is Fluxx.

If persistent artifacts is a definition, would this include games that have "player-boards" like Red Dragon Inn? How about Panzer Blitz and its sister games where each player has a printed card that has all their units for the specific scenario, lists their scoring conditions and other important information?

How about games where once the card is placed, it is typically never used again except for scoring? Think Gin-Rummy.

I personally define "Tableau" as the area of the table in front of the player where that player conducts their in-game "business". This is a very broad definition, but it implies that anything placed is a player's tableau is not directly available for use by other players except through specific game mechanics.

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linoleum blownaparte
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"Tableau" & Race For The Galaxy: I can't find an earlier game than RFTG that uses the term 'tableau' in its rules. Sure, San Juan did the same thing.

Dominion: My thoughts on Dominion come from this thread especially this insightful post. Dominion is a tableau game with the twist that you randomly access only part of your tableau every turn, with many of your card powers being about fishing for other cards, thinning out useless cards etc. Think past the deck and Dominion's cards are all about synergizing actions (+Buy, +Draw) and making new actions available.

MtG: Don't think it qualifies as tableau-building because the main way you win (aside from trick-shot victories) is removing the defenses in your opponent's tableau whether that's his creatures, or protective enchantments, or even his lands. A tableau-builder is generally about the competition to build up (hence "engine builder") not tear down.

Anyway this thread was less about the exact definition of terms and more about the different modes tableau-building-games can use to outline how cards enter play, and how they affect what actions you can take.

Innovation is an interesting and weird example, in that only your top 5 cards actually have actions available but the previously played cards contribute symbols that power up those actions, and previously played cards may come back into action if the top-card is removed.
 
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Nate Straight

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Linoleumblownaparte wrote:
"Tableau" & Race For The Galaxy: I can't find an earlier game than RFTG that uses the term 'tableau' in its rules. Sure, San Juan did the same thing.

Patience, for one.

It has been part and parcel of card game terminology for literally centuries.
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Tor Iver Wilhelmsen
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Linoleumblownaparte wrote:
"Tableau" & Race For The Galaxy: I can't find an earlier game than RFTG that uses the term 'tableau' in its rules. Sure, San Juan did the same thing.
Practically every rule sheet for solitaire card games I've seen use the term. And they are old.

Quote:
Dominion is a tableau game with the twist that you randomly access only part of your tableau every turn, with many of your card powers being about fishing for other cards, thinning out useless cards etc.
I'm confused: Is the deck your tableau there? Because the cards are only played for their effect, and the only reason to keep them in front of you "as a tableau" is as a reminder. Their presence is only temporary before they go to the discard pile.
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Derek H
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Tuism wrote:
Does it matter what name you call a bunch of games?
Well, this is the Internet and, more specifically, the boardgamegeek corner of it, so YES!
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Derek H
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Linoleumblownaparte wrote:
Anyway this thread was less about the exact definition of terms and more about the different modes tableau-building-games can use to outline how cards enter play, and how they affect what actions you can take.

Innovation is an interesting and weird example, in that only your top 5 cards actually have actions available but the previously played cards contribute symbols that power up those actions, and previously played cards may come back into action if the top-card is removed.
And that's why Innovation is such a, er, innovative game for me; it takes much of what is common and expected in card games (including tableau building) and changes it up to create a very interesting mix of chaos and control.
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Chris D
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Interesting thread...

I think the Dominion and Magic mechanics quoted in the opening thread are valid examples and relevant to the discussion, but I strongly disagree that they may be considered tableau-building games.

Linoleumblownaparte wrote:

Dominion is a tableau game with the twist that you randomly access only part of your tableau every turn, with many of your card powers being about fishing for other cards, thinning out useless cards etc.

Way too stretchy. You just described a deck-building game, which is another type of game. I guess it could be interesting comparing the two types but the same, they are not.

Linoleumblownaparte wrote:

MtG: Don't think it qualifies as tableau-building because the main way you win (aside from trick-shot victories) is removing the defenses in your opponent's tableau whether that's his creatures, or protective enchantments, or even his lands. A tableau-builder is generally about the competition to build up (hence "engine builder") not tear down.

Here I agree and it seems to me that most tableau-building games are not centered about direct conflict - most have some kind of indirect interaction about players.
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Wim van Gruisen
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I have difficulties seeing deckbuilding games (Star Realms, Dominion) as tableau-building games. While they have similarities - collecting stuff to make your deck/tableau more powerful - the main difference is that the tableau stays on the table and each part of the tableau is always accessible.

And I would add games like Illuminati and Among the Stars to the list. The difference here is that in these games the layout of the tableau, the position of the different elements, becomes important.

Tableau games (and deckbuilding games) are about synergy between the elements. In deckbuilding games, the synergy comes only forward if the same cards appear at the same time. In most tableau building games, the synergy is there between all elements on the table (most often in one's own tableau, but there may be games where cards affect all tableaus). In 'geographic' tableau games, the position of the tableau elements relative to each other is also a source of / requisite for synergy.
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CARL SKUTSCH
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gamesbook wrote:
Linoleumblownaparte wrote:
Anyway this thread was less about the exact definition of terms and more about the different modes tableau-building-games can use to outline how cards enter play, and how they affect what actions you can take.

Innovation is an interesting and weird example, in that only your top 5 cards actually have actions available but the previously played cards contribute symbols that power up those actions, and previously played cards may come back into action if the top-card is removed.
And that's why Innovation is such a, er, innovative game for me; it takes much of what is common and expected in card games (including tableau building) and changes it up to create a very interesting mix of chaos and control.
I think Innovation must count as a tableau game and it is currently my very favorite!
 
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