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Subject: how to convince people not to take pointless cards? rss

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Kevin Bourrillion
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I have a perennial frustration with this game. I've played it about 30+ times but I have yet to get to play even one game that I felt was closely contested/well fought.

Here's what always happens at some point or multiple points in every game.

Player A is holding, say, the 26. Say just for completeness that the 27-30 are not in play yet and let's say I have the 31 and 32.

Now inevitably, at some point the 27 pops up. It comes around to Player A's turn and there are, say, two chips on the 27. And Player A is not, in my estimation, running very low on chips.

And what do they do?

They TAKE IT! Pretty much every time!

I've tried every different way that I can think of to ask them if they're really sure they want to do this.

"Are you really sure you want to do this?"

"Yeah, duh!"

"Well... why?"

"Look, I have the 26, see? So it didn't cost me any points!"

"Sure, but... what did it *get* you?"

"Let me explain it to you. I got two chips, instead of having to pay one. So, I'm three chips better off than I would have been if I didn't take it. Can't you see that?"

"So... I don't mean to give you a hard time, it's just that there's an aspect of this game that I've found often takes new players a while to grasp, so I'm just trying to explain this to you."

"Ooookay?"

"What would have happened if you hadn't taken the card?"

"Yeah, I know what you're getting at, you think that I should just milk the other players for all the chips I can, the way you tried to do with the 31. But in case you didn't notice, that didn't exactly work out, now did it? Jane ended up taking it and she got all of YOUR chips!"

"But listen, I was glad when Jane took it. Sure, I would have gotten 5 chips if I'd taken it, instead of paying one, and that's 6 points. But it's only 6 points -- and when she took it, she got dinged 31 - 7 = 24 points! Given how well she was doing, I was much happier to see her go down 24 points than for me to gain 6. It was better overall. And if we'd kept going until it began to look better for me to gain the points than for one of you to take them, then I would have grabbed the chips then."

This goes on for a while, and always ends up with the other person saying, "oh, I see your point, good point!" and putting a chip on the card.

And then three minutes later, THEY JUST DO IT AGAIN! They'll flip up an 11 and they'll see that they have the 12 and even though they have plenty of chips (cause they keep taking things they shouldn't) and even though no one else is holding the 9 or 10, they'll just TAKE IT! With no chips! And gleefully -- "woo hoo, I saved myself one point!"

Like I said I feel like the game could be different if everyone playing was actually thinking very tactically about their choices, and might actually be a much more fun and interesting game to play. Who knows, I might even come to see it as an 8 or 9 rating instead of a 6 or 7. But I just can't seem to convince people to try doing this, no matter how hard I try.

Of course, you would think that if I'm the only one playing who seems to understand some of these basic ideas, that this would mean I'd be winning most of the games. But, whoops , it doesn't really turn out like that, because the random and bizarre behavior of the other players is just so unpredictable that I feel like the winner just comes down to sheer luck (which I have very little of). So after a few games, my trying to give them advice becomes *completely* pointless, because why should they bother listening to a loser, anyway?

So this was a roundabout way of asking for any ideas for how I can explain this, or even to find out if I really am the one smoking crack and they're winning because they're just smarter than me.

thanks!
 
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Geo
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It is a calculating and memory game and some people just can't follow it. Try with another group.
 
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Louise Holden
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Partly it depends on the size of the group. If I could gain 2 chips or lose one and have someone else pick up a card they don't want (and the chips) then in a two player game (supposing it plays 2 player which I doubt) then I'd be well to pass. But in a four player game the end result is that I'm down 3 chips, someone else is down a card they don't want and the other two players are three chips further ahead of me. And quite often the person who actually takes it isn't the one that you need to dump on anyway.

It's often not worth playing to do other people down if you are dragged backwards compared to the remaining players as a result.

Often I'm sure it is worth passing anyway because the damage you are doing one other player is worth it. But it's not necessarily illogical to maximise your own position compared to the rest of the field.

 
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Kevin Bourrillion
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Louise:

If my friends were actually considering that level of subtlety in their decisions, I'd be very happy. That's not really what I'm talking about here. They're just taking the card thinking "ooh! free card! yay!"

Geo:

I've played this with every different subset of my friends and it's pretty much always the same. I think they CAN get it, they just haven't yet. By the way, when it comes to remembering with any accuracy how many chips everyone has, I suck at that too. I don't play any games as "memory games", since I don't really have the option to
 
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Tim K.
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Yes, this is how all my casual gaming friends play it too. Drives me nuts! The worst part is that they usually end up doing well if not winning, but maybe that's because I'm the only one in the game playing the 'guts' version

So, unless they perpetually lose or don't do well at the game, there is no way to convince them other than letting them keep playing it and hope that they see that there can be some flexibility in their play options.

meeple
 
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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I don't see your point, Kevin. If I was your friend, I would be very frustrated if you always tried me to play your way. It's definitely so as you say: Why listen to a loser? If your "strategy" doesn't work, you should think it over a bit. I hate it when people expect me to play like they do cause they think it's the best way. If a game gives me multiple possible ways to play, I don't see why I should play only one way.

If I always take worthless cards as soon as possible others lose their chips and I collect them. If they then run out of chips, they'll have to take cards which might be even worse for them. That's also kind of a "strategy". Your strategy is broken if it depends on how other players play a game. In every game the most important thing is to be able to adjust your strategy to the circumstances. If a game had only one strategy, it would be broken. Then I would call a game "pure luck", but not if there are at least two ways to play and not all of the players use the same one.

If you hate losing games where luck is involved, switch to Caylus or any other game without luck. Hm,... No, don't do that. You'll complain again that your opponents don't play as you supposed. And never try Puerto Rico. Your opponents will be grateful for that.
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Czech Mate
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Nit: In your description you talk about Jane getting the 31
and something not working out. But prior to that you say you
have the 31. What exactly did you mean? Perhaps Jane got the 33?


Anyway, I always play this game as a light filler or opener.
Seems to me you are doing the opposite.
When I play, I understand that everyone plays differently.
Although I mostly play with beginners. Some who even "go for"
the runs.

I see Geschenkt as a game of frustration, and it would
seem that you do too. That means its working quite well.

Enjoy!
mikey.
 
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Chris Rogers
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I have the exact same problem with everyone I introduce this game to.

I've finally started to accept that this game isn't for everyone and that I should be glad it only cost me 10 dollars.

Its now a running gag that I suggest we play No Thanks as the evening winds down and everyone is all 'gamed out'...to which everyone replies with a hearty NO THANKS!

Let me know if you figure out the silver bullet for getting others to adopt the right mentality...



 
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Kevin Bourrillion
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Ponton, I think you're misunderstanding me by quite a lot. I'm not saying I want people to play MY way. I want them to act in their own self-interest, and make a move because they have thought about it and think it will be the best for them. What frustrates me with No Thanks is the feeling that they're not even really thinking about it. It seems like they think, "ooh, a sequence, those are good and now I can have one, yay!"

I like players to act in their own self-interest because I think that makes games more fun. I realize No Thanks is not a hugely skill-based game, but what importance skill does have gets sucked right out of it when your opponents play bizarrely.

And I don't know if I should need to point this out, but when you tell me not to play Puerto Rico, one of my favorite games and one that I play pretty often, out of courtesy to others, you're being kind of outright insulting to me, and I don't see what I did to deserve that. Besides, what the heck is your point? Would you enjoy playing PR with people who just loved crafting all the time completely regardless of who really benefited from it? I highly doubt it, so what the heck is your point?
 
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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I did not intend to insult you, Kevin, God beware! I'm very sorry, I did. My point is that you think your way to play the game is the intelligent, skillful one, and that you cannot see that other players see it differently. I am not a fan of people who screw games, also, but in this particular case I don't think they're screwing anything. I would hate someone crafting all the time in PR, but I would accept if someone due to another strategy played differently, in fact screwing my plans and expectations. Or do you also think that someone has no skill only because he DID craft now, although you wouldn't if you were him/her? If someone plays _differently_, it's not a sign of lesser skill.

Oh, and be happy that you do not lose chips because someone takes a card at once.
 
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Paul Harrington
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GeoMan wrote:
It is a calculating and memory game and some people just can't follow it. Try with another group.


Good advice! Of course, it presumes he has two possible gaming groups to play in, and since I have none (except online), that is probably an optimistic assumption.
 
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Eric Brosius
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Kevin, I'm pretty sure I don't understand Geschenkt, but it's possible that your opponents are actually making better decisions than you think. The expected cost of taking a card can be low early in the game, because it's quite likely you'll see others. If I snatch the 27 when you have the 26, I have a good chance of getting a shot at the 28 with some chips on it as well. In a 5-player game, if a play gives me a 25% chance to win the game, that's better than the 20% I started with. Maybe they're taking 25% shots and leaving you out in the cold.

My friend Andy talks about a Settlers game he played in where his opponents were trade-crazy. They even went as far as to trade a Sheep for two Sheep when someone needed a Sheep to build (and then the favor would be returned later.) He was far too sophisticated to make such trades, so of course he lost by a mile. This may be a similar situation.
 
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Antonio Chavez
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Wait... this is "No Thanks" we're talking about, right? A simple, fast, social game. It seems to me as if your friends are having fan and you're not -- ergo, they're probably in the right.

Relax, have fun and please, don't bug other people to "play tactically" in what's a whimsical and light card game. Just let go, relax, and save the tactical playing for heavier games.
 
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John Reiners
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Kevin is right though in that there really isn't a better way to play the game then the way he is suggesting. Or to put it another way, there isn't much of a strategic advantage to you in taking the card immediately, rather than letting it go around. Especially the higher cards.

Because if your opponent gets stuck with a 30 card and they have no other cards to mitigate it they get stuck with 30 points (and the object is to have as few points as possible). Since you already have the 31 (or whatever it is in the example) you've already played the card that would mitigate the effect of the 30 so they'll just be looking at 30 points they'd have to eat. There's no way they'll take that unless they have too. So in those instances you should let it go around a few times if you have the 31 because noone in their right mind is going to want to get stuck with 30 points. If however, enough chips are on the card (which offset the points on the card itself) then I can see someone else taking the card but not without the extra chips.

If you just take the card for 1 chip you give yourself a benefit, but the odds are way in your favor that you could also get a bunch of other players chips on the deal as well.


That being said it is a very light game and there is some luck involved, so I wouldn't stress it too much if they do play the game "wrong".

Sometimes even when you play the game right you still lose, and someone does the wrong play that turns out to work for them. I'd probably go over the optimal strategies after playing a few hands, but not during the game itself.
 
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Patrick Jamet
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In the group who introduced me this game, nobody mentally keeps count of the tokens of each player, except me. I can't believe people can play this way.

Pyjam.
 
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David Floss
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I can see the merit in both points of view on this game, having played it many times as a filler game or "Lunch break" game at work.

There are certainly folks who do not grasp the game's basic mechanics.

For example, I take the 27 because I have the 26, and lost since the guy after me has a lower score anyway, and if I had just passed on the card, I would have lost 3 chips (Since the player after me has 3 chips total) after 3 rounds he has to take the 27, minus 9 chips (Mine, his taken back, and the 3rd player.

So he gets 18 points to his score, and I win.

There is some strategy involved, if not just basic math. Keeping track of others players chips is critical (and often overlooked) as they reduce the score and may force players to take cards if they are low on chips. I think this is the one strategy to a very light hearted game and why I actually like it more than most card games of this type. You can play strategically, although this gets harder when people just grab any card in a run they can get there hands on as it limits the distribution of the card on the table.

Should you take the 26 if you have the 25, 27, and 28? Yes, Immediately.

Should you take the 34 just because you have the 31-33, maybe not. Might be better to force another player to add 30+ points to their score.

In the end though, while I agree I would rather play with strategic players, the truth is those who do not play with any strategy end up winning a lot (Still confounds me) and I just tailor the way I play the game based on the group, since at the end, with all games, I agree with the previous post that we should be playing these games to have fun after all. If you explain the strategy of No Thanks! to a group and they keep playing how they want to play, good for them for just having fun and rolling with the luck. If it drives you nuts, switch to another game or play this one for just for fun, regardless of who wins.

And if you a re ever in Wisconsin, look me up. I am still trying to find a good group to play this particular game since I agree it could be much better with the right group (right for me anyway)soblue
 
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Hubert
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Deciding when to take the card can be tricky. I introduced this game to some people, one of whom scored -1 after just a few games..

I don't think passing on the card is always correct, especially if it is a low number. If you don't take it, most people will take it before it comes back to you again. If it's a high card (30++), especially a 35, it's better to put a chip. That's why it's better to get an advantage in chips early, to avoid being forced to take a high-value card.
 
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