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Subject: Handicapping Through the Desert? rss

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'Bernard Wingrave'
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Wyoming
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Has anyone come up with a good way to handicap the game? I know a chess clock would work for 2-player games (and a G-8 timer for 2-5 player games), but I'm wondering about other possibilities. Does having one player play with fewer caravans work well, or is it too imbalancing? What about placing one camel (instead of two)?
 
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Lacombe
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Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
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Both of your suggestions would drastically cripple the affected player. Playing with fewer caravans (in a two-player game) would automatically give the longest chain of the missing colors to the other player. Similarly, playing only one camel per turn, instead of the two camels set forth in the rules, would give a more-than-necessary advantage to the other player and almost ensure that the first player could never get any of the longest chain bonuses (especially in a two-player game).

Off the top of my head, I think that allowing a weaker player to place one or two camels along with each of their riders at the very beginning of the game might be a nice way to handicap the game. It would definitely give that player an edge, but it wouldn't be something that would drastically affect the actual play of the rest of the game. Think of it as a head start; something to start them off in a position where their "inferior" skill at the game still allows them to be competitive.
 
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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Excellent suggestion. This is how Go is handicapped; makes perfect sense.
 
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Mark McEvoy
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Another possibility is restricting the stronger player to 1 camel rather than two *for a fixed number of turns* before allowing him/her to start placing the usual 2-per-turn. Like the aforementioned suggestion, it would be a handicap system that could be adjusted for a varying gap in skill level.


Maybe, during this period in which the weaker player is allowed 2 placements to the stronger player's 1, the weaker player should be restricted to playing to two different caravans - make it a bit tougher to 'box in' the stonger player's slow-growing caravan.




Actually, that last edit gave me another handicap idea. Instead of any of the above - have the stronger player prohibited from playing 2 to the same caravan in a turn (either for a fixed number of turns, or in extreme cases, for the entire game) while the weaker player is (as usual) allowed to play either to two different caravans or two camels to one caravan.
 
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Dave Eisen
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That seems too large too. An initial extra camel or two should be a huge handicap and sufficient in most cases.
 
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Thjodbjorn K.
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I'm a big fan too, of a "spread". That way the other player still plays the same rules, but just had a bit of a head start. Although I don't know how many would be appropriate in this game...

Maybe combining a spread, and disregarding the rule of the first person placing one camel would be good? Or if it's more than 2p, put the weaker players as the first two, and then disregarding that rule?
 
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