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Subject: Using a Turn Timer? rss

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Drew Hauge
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Once my pre-order arrives, I have a group of 5 lined up to play the campaign. Personally I think 5 players will be awesome -- more people to share the experience with, and probably a higher degree of difficulty due to the scarcity of resources. The one concern I have is that the games may take a lot longer with 5 than 3, and this may cause some people to enjoy it less.

I think one of the preview articles mentioned that games tend to take 15 turns on average, so if you average 1 minute per player per turn, that's 75 minutes for a 5 player game. Adding in time for initial setup, two additional winters, reading captain's booke entries, and revealing any legacy elements, you're looking at 2+ hours easily.

While that's very doable for us (4 of the 5 guys in our planned Seafall group played Pandemic Legacy together and would routinely play 2-3 games of it per session, so a 2 hour game session is well within our range), my concern is with what will happen if there is a lot of analysis paralysis, leading to average turn times of 2+ minutes.

For this reason, I'm considering whether it would be wise to implement a turn timer. For instance, maybe each player gets a max 60 seconds to decide what they want to do on their turn (actually carrying out the actions would not factor in to the time). Also, maybe each player has a bank of 5 bonus minutes that they can use over the course of the game, for those times when there's a particularly tough decision. If they run out of time and have no bonus minutes left, they've got to just make a decision and go with it.

What do you think about the idea and the amount of minutes? Note that I'm not advocating that other groups should do this too- clearly it depends on your specific situation.
 
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Brad

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I've played games with built in timers for decision making and I'm not a huge fan if they're too fast. I think it could work if the time allotted was reasonable, but I hate to pressure people to be jumping on decisions due to a clock.

I also haven't played with anyone that takes forever to make their decisions. Will be interesting to see how much AP there will be in this game.
 
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Drew Hauge
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cromusz wrote:
I've played games with built in timers for decision making and I'm not a huge fan if they're too fast. I think it could work if the time allotted was reasonable, but I hate to pressure people to be jumping on decisions due to a clock.

I also haven't played with anyone that takes forever to make their decisions. Will be interesting to see how much AP there will be in this game.
Good point-- making people feel pressured would be counter-productive, as the intent is just making sure it's a fun experience for all involved.
 
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Becq Starforged
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What would you do if a player fails to make a decision in time? You said they would have to "just make a decision and go with it", but since they hadn't up to that point, does that mean they lose their turn if they don't "just make a decision" within, say 15 seconds of the timer? Also, players have several key decision points: advisor/treasure purchase is a nontrivial one, then guild choice, then actions within that guild, then the details of how they sail, or which structure to build, or which site to explore, etc. At what point do you stop the timer, and what penalty will you impose when they fail to perform within the time limit?

In general, it feels a bit heavy-handed to me. Perhaps you should see if its a problem first, then discuss how to solve the problem. Perhaps all you need is a more generous timer (3-5 minutes) to catch the most extreme cases, since many turns are also likely to be far shorter than average. But even then, you need to talk about what happens if the player fails to decide in whatever time you allot.
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Drew Hauge
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Becq wrote:
What would you do if a player fails to make a decision in time? You said they would have to "just make a decision and go with it", but since they hadn't up to that point, does that mean they lose their turn if they don't "just make a decision" within, say 15 seconds of the timer? Also, players have several key decision points: advisor/treasure purchase is a nontrivial one, then guild choice, then actions within that guild, then the details of how they sail, or which structure to build, or which site to explore, etc. At what point do you stop the timer, and what penalty will you impose when they fail to perform within the time limit?

In general, it feels a bit heavy-handed to me. Perhaps you should see if its a problem first, then discuss how to solve the problem. Perhaps all you need is a more generous timer (3-5 minutes) to catch the most extreme cases, since many turns are also likely to be far shorter than average. But even then, you need to talk about what happens if the player fails to decide in whatever time you allot.
Good points-- there are a lot of decisions to make, and imposing a turn timer does seem a bit heavy handed the more I think about it. Probably better to not try to impose additional rules to a game that already has plenty.
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David desJardins
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Timing turns is always difficult, and it's going to be even more difficult in a game where the rules could change in ways that you don't know in advance. Surely that makes it hard to decide from the start how much time to allow. Unless you've had a lot of success in introducing timers into other multiplayer games I wouldn't think this is the one to start with.
 
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Brent Wilson
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I've had great success using a game timer to encourage the slowest players to move quicker.

When I use a game timer, I use a simple up-count and switch players when the turn changes (when it's green's turn, his timer counts up, when he passes the turn to yellow, yellow's timer counts up).

People are always curious how much time they're using and if someone has used, say, 15 minutes while everyone else is at 7, 8, 10, and 11, they'll move faster to avoid the guilt.

Other than guilt, there is no penalty. For me though, winning a game while using twice as much time as the next place player doesn't feel like a fair win. And similarly, losing a game while using the most time is a little humiliating. That's all the motivation I, and the people I've subjected to game timers, need.
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Becq Starforged
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So basically you're making players aware of the amount of time their spending on their turns without imposing a hard limit. Basically a form of peer pressure to encourage faster play. Interesting...
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Caleb Kester
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Ankeny
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Try a turn totem. Get some sort of stick/figure/thing/lego creation to pass to the person who's turn it is. If it's your turn, you have to focus on the turn. Sometime just having something physical like that helps some of the AP players.
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J Kaemmer
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Speedyox wrote:
I've had great success using a game timer to encourage the slowest players to move quicker.

When I use a game timer, I use a simple up-count and switch players when the turn changes (when it's green's turn, his timer counts up, when he passes the turn to yellow, yellow's timer counts up).

People are always curious how much time they're using and if someone has used, say, 15 minutes while everyone else is at 7, 8, 10, and 11, they'll move faster to avoid the guilt.

Other than guilt, there is no penalty. For me though, winning a game while using twice as much time as the next place player doesn't feel like a fair win. And similarly, losing a game while using the most time is a little humiliating. That's all the motivation I, and the people I've subjected to game timers, need.


This is what I would do if my players were bad. We actually have a triphy for Ti3 games for longest turn. They have to live with the shame until the next we play (it may be a while!)
 
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R. Eric Reuss
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Speedyox wrote:
I've had great success using a game timer to encourage the slowest players to move quicker.

When I use a game timer, I use a simple up-count and switch players when the turn changes (when it's green's turn, his timer counts up, when he passes the turn to yellow, yellow's timer counts up).

People are always curious how much time they're using and if someone has used, say, 15 minutes while everyone else is at 7, 8, 10, and 11, they'll move faster to avoid the guilt.

Other than guilt, there is no penalty.

I've done the same thing and had the same results - despite saying "there is no time limit; this is for information tracking only"! (I was measuring a baseline of "how long do players spend?" so I could then decide on a reasonable, non-pressure-y time limit and/or speed->points conversion. But using either turned out to be unnecessary!)

Games seemed to play roughly 20-40% faster with the tracking timer, with the larger speedup going to games all the players knew well.
 
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Kain W.
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We had that debate for a very long time in our group especially when trying to play Starcraft or similar epic games or some fast paced like Arcadia Quest - but having one or two very slow players it spoils the fun a bit.

We were never really happy with a fixed time management and rules with exceptions etc.. A month ago a friend of mine came up with a very good solution:

Have a hourglass with 60 seconds (or 90) at hand and play.
The rule is if somebody things a turn is going to last long he can simply turn the hourglass and then the player has that 60 seconds to go for. It makes it not as strict, sometime there are dense and messy situations in which it is obvious that a minute is not enough - or the mood is just more like easy going and too much focus on the game would spoil that.

We are thinking about the option that any other player could also extend that 60 seconds by another turn - simply to have it easy and flexible.
 
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Thomas Robb
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I remember one time when we were playing a 6 player Battlestar Galactica game, I had a current player turn marker, and then a different marker for the next player up.

The second marker was a signal that their turn was coming up so have a plan and be ready (of course, something could dramatically happen to change your plan a bit)

For the most part, though, players were more ready when their turn came up

 
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