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Machi Koro: Harbor» Forums » Variants

Subject: 3 draw pile variant=PACING IMPROVED!! rss

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Jon Leigh
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So I love the randomization of cards that was introduced with the expansion but to me this caused some pacing issues with my group. Some games were incredibly slow because the majority of cards available at the beginning were higher numbered ones that required 2 dice. Other times the reverse of this was the issue. In order to address this, we separate the draw deck into 3 different decks.

DECK 1- Cards valued 1-6 (But no purple cards)------ Draw 5
DECK 2- Cards valued 7-14 (Again no purple cards)-----Draw 5
DECK 3- All of the purple cards-----------------------Draw 2


With this variant, we found that the pacing is much improve and there are never moments where you feel restricted to buying cards that are only useful with 2 dice (which was an issue we originally had with the expansion). Also the purple deck is separated to ensure that there are not too many of these cards being used in the early game, which can cause money to trickle into the game very very slowly. And the best part about this variant? IT MAKES THE 4 DECK BOX DESIGN PERFECT!! lol Anyway, my group loves this setup and I just wanted to pass it along. HAVE FUN!!
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Thomas Blackwell
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This makes a lot of sense to me. Will be trying it out once my copy of Harbor is delivered. Thanks!
 
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Mark Turner
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Good idea...

It feels like the Harbour variant was best for the same game; the expansion now needs a new variant.
 
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Neil Christiansen
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Do you draw 5 unique cards and stack duplicates?
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Jon Leigh
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Absolutely, you still follow the 'drawing until you get different unique cards' rule of this expansion. Thanks for commenting, I should have clarified that. all the rest of the rules for the expansion are the same except for the division of decks.
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Tim S
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jonboiii wrote:
DECK 1- Cards valued 1-6 (But no purple cards)------ Draw 5
DECK 2- Cards valued 7-14 (Again no purple cards)-----Draw 5
DECK 3- All of the purple cards-----------------------Draw 2
The Draw 5, Draw 5, Draw 2 is just for setup, right? So you'd start with twelve total buildings available? What about when you need to replenish an empty spot? Do you get to choose which deck to draw from?
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Jon Leigh
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With this variant, your deck remains separated into the 3 decks from the rule. Whenever you need to replenish an empty space, you draw from the same deck that it came from. Meaning if you draw the last of a certain numbered 3 card on the table, you draw from the deck of 1-6 cards to replace that spot it. If you purchase the last of a certain number 9 card, you draw from the 7-14 deck. etc with the purple cards. I keep the market area separated into 3 different rows based on this division of decks.

example. (PURPLE DECK)- Draw -> 1, 2

(7-14 DECK)--Draw-->1, 2, 3, 4, 5

(1-6 DECK)--Draw--->1, 2, 3, 4, 5

And just for clarification, the numbers above represent each available spot for unique cards to be placed. This way you always have 12 unique buildings to buy and always have the same fairly equal distribution of number ranges. I feel like in keeping it separated like this and always having 5, 5, and 2 cards from their respective decks, the game maintains the balance found in the base game. And again, with the game box, keeping them separated like this is easy. Hope this helped clear up your question Tim!
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James Clarke
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It is a good idea. But I'm a bit worried that this might be over-regimenting the decks a bit.

I'd really prefer to keep all the decks mixed together, so I'm thinking about perhaps trying a change to the initial deal. The initial 10 stack deal to be restricted to 1 to 6 value cards only. All cards of higher value that appear are simply returned to the bottom of the deck.

Any thoughts?
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Jim McMahon
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Highland Cow wrote:

It is a good idea. But I'm a bit worried that this might be over-regimenting the decks a bit.

I'd really prefer to keep all the decks mixed together, so I'm thinking about perhaps trying a change to the initial deal. The initial 10 stack deal to be restricted to 1 to 6 value cards only. All cards of higher value that appear are simply returned to the bottom of the deck-shuffled back into the deck after the 10 stacks are created.

Any thoughts?
See bolded.
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Tim P.
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Tried two games with the 5+5+2 variant (1-6 + 7-up + separate purple cards decks)

The first games used 5+5+2 at the start, but the new cards being drawn would dictate the composition after the start. 5+5+2 was just the starting seed. It still suffered from lack of choices in the early game and ended in a lopsided runaway victor.

First to build was the winner.


The second game had a 5+5+2 composition for the whole game, was much better as there were always choices. There was sniping of the better cards.

We did play that everyone had an equal number of turns instead of instant winner, and had two of the three players finishing on the same game turn, with remaining money as the tiebreaker.


I am thinking of trying a 6+6+3 deck, to give a little more choice in the cards, and more purple card options... everyone hates the Tax Office except the ones who have it.
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Larry Welborn
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Interesting idea. The last two times we played we have had real trouble getting an engine developed as there were very few low cards and purples soon cluttered up the available cards.
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Tim P.
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Tried a few more games using 6+6+3+equal turns variant: much more choices in the early game, perhaps too many as people end with similar engines.

Each player gets an equal number of player game turns, so if the player who went second (player 2) built their last accomplishment (and thus triggered the game end) then players 3,4,5 get one last go; Player 1 would not.

Remaining money is the tie-breaker.
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Ken Galbraith
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Played a 3 player game this way last night. It was by far the best set up we've used so far. It kept the early game moving and the game progressed at the steady, increasingly fast pace that I feel was intended. Thanks for this idea.
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Stephen Aston
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I am definitely going to try this. I bought Harbor last week and was really disappointed. The original Machi Koro just worked so well straight out of the box - the game gets interesting immediately. With the harbor we drew the 10 random piles and they were pretty much all expensive 'take-that' style cards, or for high dice rolls. So nobody could afford any cards, and the cards you could buy were only going to yield money long term. We just had to go round and round trying to throw 1,2 or 3 and slowly, slowly get some money. It felt like playing beatle drive or something.
So the expansion added variety, which the base game definitely needed, but as the expense of that lovely smooth game-play.
As I say, can't wait to try this, sounds like it will fix the big problem I have with the expansion.
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Darren
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I gave this a shot last night with my two children and as a whole we didn't like it as much. I setup 3 decks as described, one with cards 1 to 6, the second deck with cards 7 to 14, and the third deck with just the purple cards.

We then dealt from the first deck until 5 different cards were setup. Did the same for the 2nd deck and only 2 for the 3rd deck. So far so good.

Once we started playing, everyone swarmed over the blue 1 to 6 cards that were available or settled for Convenience Stores whenever they came up. Between blue cards and Convenience Stores, 1 of either was almost always available. As a result, no one touched the 7 to 14 deck or the purple deck. Within 15 minutes we had drained the 1st deck (1 to 6) cards to nothing while barely any 7 to 14 cards had been picked. Everyone had enough small cards and was making enough money from having multiple low value blue cards that no one ever rolled two dice. Enough money was coming in from single rolls that the Airport was flipped first and then no building went on as each player collected 10 coins for not building each turn and within minutes the game was over. Not one purple card was bought, and only three 7 to 14 cards were bought. No one ever rolled 2 dice and it was the quickest game we ever played.

Looking at the 3 players cards at the end of the game, everyone was within 1 or 2 turns of ending the game. Who ever got the Airport first won.

We personally found the variant rule where you bring out enough Wheat Fields and Bakeries at the start for 2 of the 10 random piles a better setup. That way, 1 to 6 cards are not always available so you need to expand into the higher numbered cards which changes things up. Doing this is a slower game though, but was much more diverse and allowed different strategies.

This variant was worth trying, but won't be one that we stick with.
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Sterling Babcock
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I am liking what we are reading here. Having heard about this thread we tried this last night, but not having read this thread beforehand, we were winging it:

We used: Three piles as described. We started 4 + 4 + 2 (as we were doing the 10 piles). But then when someone exhausted a pile, they choose what pile to draw from. It added a bit of a twist to the game.

So for example, early on, I got some 1-6 cards, so as I filled piles, I filled from 7-12 as I wanted to go there. But late game, I filled with 1-6 as needed. Interspersed with occasional purple card draws.

It made for a somewhat dynamic game by not limiting the stacks to 4, 4, 2 distribution as each player could choose what was best for them or others.
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Power Wong
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I like the idea of let the player to decide which stack he wants to draw to refill the establishment.
 
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Adam vanLangenberg
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This is how we play now.
 
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No Name
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Solamar wrote:
I am liking what we are reading here. Having heard about this thread we tried this last night, but not having read this thread beforehand, we were winging it:

We used: Three piles as described. We started 4 + 4 + 2 (as we were doing the 10 piles). But then when someone exhausted a pile, they choose what pile to draw from. It added a bit of a twist to the game.

So for example, early on, I got some 1-6 cards, so as I filled piles, I filled from 7-12 as I wanted to go there. But late game, I filled with 1-6 as needed. Interspersed with occasional purple card draws.

It made for a somewhat dynamic game by not limiting the stacks to 4, 4, 2 distribution as each player could choose what was best for them or others.
I was unsure about the 3 deck variant until I saw this response, now I can't wait to try it!

This tiny tweak does two important things:
1. More player agency!
2. Allows repeat games to diverge from the 4,4,2 start
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Michael Brazen
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So basically the expansion broke the game. I don't know why so many people Todd me "oh it's such a necessary expansion!" I mean before it had fixed strategies, now it's just no character.
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Jim McMahon
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Mangekyo wrote:
before it had fixed strategies,
This is why so many people told you to get the expansion.
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Michael Brazen
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jimmcmahon wrote:
Mangekyo wrote:
before it had fixed strategies,
This is why so many people told you to get the expansion.
So the answer was to eradicate any strategy? Lol
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Jared Inc.
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Mangekyo wrote:
jimmcmahon wrote:
Mangekyo wrote:
before it had fixed strategies,
This is why so many people told you to get the expansion.
So the answer was to eradicate any strategy? Lol
"Fixed" being the key problem, not "strategy".

Players can no longer plant their feet into a strategy and with remarkable reliability win every game on turn 10 with super combos (cheese ranching being the favorite at my house). Players have to react to the market and each other much more. God forbid, I have to interact with another player who might want to interrupt my game-breaking "strategy" which I use every... single... game.

90 percent of the people I've played with love the expansion, the remaining 10 were much like yourself. YMMV, I guess. whistle
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Mike Adams
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jonboiii wrote:


DECK 1- Cards valued 1-6 (But no purple cards)------ Draw 5
DECK 2- Cards valued 7-14 (Again no purple cards)-----Draw 5
DECK 3- All of the purple cards-----------------------Draw 2

We finally tried this and it fixed all my complaints about the expansion. It feels like the original game pacing-wise with more variety to it. We love it! Thankfully. We really liked Machi Koro a lot and played it more than anything last year, but the expansion with the random distribution almost killed it for us - we stopped playing it much at all. This fixed that. Thanks!
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Greg Wilson
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Played with the 4-4-2 variant last night. I don't know if we just got lucky, but this literally halved the playing time (45 minutes for a five-player game) and it felt like people could deliberately pursue a strategy instead of just grabbing whatever half-decent card was available on their turn or getting locked out of competition for the whole game.

I've gotten pretty burnt out on MK, and even with this change it's not like there's a lot of important decision-making or planning, but it was a lot better. Will definitely try this setup again.
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