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Subject: TVB - 3P - Hard to ride alone, but can't always overlap. rss

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Richard Pardoe
United States
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Dave was the only person who could make games tonight, so we focused on a few owned but unplayed 2P games in Rich's collection. But before we got to those games, Rich's daughter Sabrina wanted to join for games. After much deliberation, we decided to try Royal Turf as a 3P game.

Royal Turf is Knizia's take on horse racing and was game #2 in the Alea small-box series. In each race, there are 8 horses racing. The movement of each horse is controlled by a die and the average movement of each horse is identical. What varies is the actual movement spurts for each horse. Some horses are a mix of very short and very long moves while others are more moderate moves. Each horse has a different mix, but as I stated, the average move for each horse is the same.

Player place hidden bets (including one 0 bet or bluff) on 4 of the horses. Once the bets are placed, there off. But a player can't just keep advancing his favoured horse to the exclusion of others. Each of the 8 horses must move once before any horse can move again. Therefore, players are always trying to decide which horse to move. Move my own horse now? Does that telegraph my bet? Should I bluff and move another horse? Do I not move my horse now hoping for a better move when it does move? Obviously as each of the horses move, the horses still to move get fewer and fewer, so the decision space shortens nicely.

Once the first three horses have crossed the finish line, bets are revealed and monies paid out depending on the number of bets placed on the horse. A game consists of 3 races (with the last race featuring a doubled payout) and the winner is the player with the most money at games end.

As the first race was about to begin, Dave and Rich had placed betting tokens on the same horses (Earl Grey, Red Fox, Sahara Wind, and. (As the values are 0, 1, 1, or 2 - it was possible that each had picked a different horse to win.) Sabrina shared one horse with Dave and Rich (Red Fox) but also placed the sole bets on Nougat and Othello. As the horses took off, it was Earl Grey into the early lead followed closely by Caramello and Sahara Wind. Trailing and struggling to cross the start line were Albino, Othello, and Nougat. Earl Grey continued to sprint well extending his lead as Red Fox joined Caramello and Sahara Wind in the next group. While Rich attempted to slow Earl Grey down with a single space move (a bit of a bluff, but also to let his other horses move towards the finish line), but this delay was short-lived as Earl Grey sprinted across the line early and in first place.

Red Fox and Sahara Wind soon followed for second and third. Looking at the field, Albino (with no bets) was in last place while Sabrina's other horses (Nougat and Othello) were distant trailers. The bets were now revealed:

Horse (Bet) Dave Rich Sabrina
============ ==== ==== =======
Earl Grey 2 2 0
Red Fox 1 1 1
Sahara Wind 1 1 -

Horse (Pay) Dave Rich Sabrina
============ ==== ==== =======
Earl Grey 400 400 0
Pace Setter 200 200 0
Red Fox 200 200 200
Sahara Wind 200 200 0
============ ==== ==== =======
Race #1 1000 1000 200

Not only had Rich and Dave bet on the same horses, they had placed the identical bets on each horse. Sabrina learned that it is difficult to be the sole bettor on a horse as the other players just won't move it along.

We were now ready for the second race. Othello and Caramello attracted bets from all three players. No one bet on Sahara Wind or Red Fox. With 3 players riding Othello and Caramello, they were driven to the front of the pack with Caramello claiming the pace setter bonus. But just as Caramello was poised to cross the finish line, Sabrina swooped Othello from second place into first across the line. Nice to have a large bet on the winner, but the earnings gets diluted as everyone else had also bet on the horse:

Horse (Bet) Dave Rich Sabrina
============ ==== ==== =======
Othello 1 2 2
Caramello 2 1 0
Earl Grey 1 - 1

Horse (Pay) Dave Rich Sabrina
============ ==== ==== =======
Othello 150 300 300
Caramello 400 200 0
Pace Setter 200 100 0
Sahara Wind 200 0 200
============ ==== ==== =======
Race #2 950 600 500
Total 1950 1600 700

Again, a lot of similarity between Rich's and Dave's bet. In fact, they once again matched up on the 0 bet (Albino) who finished in dead last.

So we line up for the final race with it double payout. Othello and Albino were selected by all. Rich seeing that he needed to break away from Dave in order to catch his total opted for a single bet on Sahara Wind. Dave and Sabrina paired up on Earl Grey once again. With rapid moves, Earl Grey quickly grabs the pace setter bonus and is nearing the finish line. Rich has one chance to move Albino across the line first, but fails to make the roll. Earl Grey finishes first with Albino following and Othello in third.

Horse (Bet) Dave Rich Sabrina
============ ==== ==== =======
Earl Grey 1 - 1
Albino 2 2 1
Othello 1 1 2

Horse (Pay) Dave Rich Sabrina
============ ==== ==== =======
Earl Grey 700 0 700
Pace Setter 200 0 200
Albino 400 400 200
Othello 200 200 400
============ ==== ==== =======
Race #1 1500 600 1500
Total 3450 2200 2200

So after a slow start, Sabrina catches on and catches up. But Dave riding the Earl Grey wave manages the win in admirable fashion.

Having played this game with more players, we were curious how it plays with 3. I think the answer is quite well. With fewer players, it is a bit easier to strategize bets and try to keep your opponents covered. Sometimes to well covered as Dave and Rich managed to make identical bids in the first race and actually match up with their 0 bet in all 3 races. Amazingly, no one was penalized for riding the last place horse. With fewer players, it is more likely that a horse or two will have no bets. This horse is likely to be at the end of the pack as a result of gaining all the low rolls.

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