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Subject: What Method Do You Use To Randomly Determine the Tile Order/Layout? rss

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The title says it all. I love Patchwork, but I wish this aspect of the setup had been designed into the game. I've tried pulling the tiles out of a bag, but that doesn't work because you know if you're grabbing a small or large tile. I am curious to know how others approach the setup of the circle of tiles.
 
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Damian White
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I use the 'just dump them onto the table in a jumbled heap and then push them out into a large circle without taking too much notice of what's where' method.

Seems to work fine for casual play.
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Pete Waring
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We just shake them up in the box, dump them into a pile on the table, and randomly push them out into a circle from there, very intentionally ignoring what is ending up where.

Edit - beat me to it!
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Greg Darcy
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What the others do.
Also it doesn't really matter where they are as when they become available is determined by the choices made during the game.

If it really worries you, set up the circle BEFORE choosing first player. This will effectively add the "you cut, I choose" system of choosing cake from my childhood. Those slices came out millimeter identical and has stood me in good stead all my life being able to estimate sizes accurately.
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Murr Rockstroh
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Instead of the box to randomize / dump them from, we keep the tiles stored in a Crown Royal bag (inside the box), and then we shake them out of the bag in a circle and push them into position in a circle where they clump as they fall.
 
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W. Cracker
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Cliff Fisher
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#nding the "dump them out of the box and push them in a rough circle" method.
 
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Teeka
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We dump them on the table straight from the box too. But we do it in two parts.

After dumping them from the box, we pick up any pieces that (mostly) fell on top of others and take those apart. Then we lay the ones that didn't in a circle.

Then, we put the ones we took apart inbetween the ones already there, using a "skip 1 tile, skip 2 tiles, skip 1 tile" process.

It's still really quick but it ends up (feeling like) randomizing the order a bit more.
 
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Russ Williams
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The beginning arrangement is arbitrary, simply so that each game's setup will be different.

There is no reason to obsess about uniformly randomly choosing each possible tile permutation with equal probability. Why would that possibly matter?

So yeah, like many upthread commenters already said, simply create a circle of pieces and don't worry about it.
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Christopher Corrigan
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I have marked each side of each tile with a tiny random individual number which I use along with a program I developed for my iPhone that generate those random number at random. Then, and this is key, I have a third party who knows neither the game nor the players lay these tiles out on a circular felt layout pad with I have developed for clear individual spaces for the piece to assure that there is no ambiguity in the tile order. Simple really.
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Brent L
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Crown Royal bag bag Classic!

But seriously, some of you are much more competitive Patchwork players. I defiantly dump and place in a circle.

Numbered tiles with an iphone randomizer and a non-partisan third party sorter? How much do you play for?
 
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I almost forgot to respond to my own thread lol. laugh

It's not that I play Patchwork competitively (or any other game for the matter), but it's the Sheldon-like side of my nature (to those who don't watch the TV show The Big Bang Theory then my apologies for the reference... Side note: if you're not watching Big Bang then you should be! ). I've tried piling and pushing the tiles into a circle as well as pulling the tiles from a bag. While the former is certainly the quickest/easiest method neither provides a random setup. So, I've begun placing the tiles on the table in 3 rows of 11. That way each tile is easily assigned a number 1-33 visually/mentally without the need to mark the tiles (though I do like this idea I can't bring myself to write on the tiles lol). Then as others have mentioned I use a randomization app that picks a number between 1-33 set to not allow for repeating numbers. I don't see the need or advantage in a third party laying out the tiles before using a randomization app. The numbers chosen are already random so it doesn't matter how the tiles are laid out. This gets the job done quickly and with only a little more effort than the pile and push method. And of course provides a completely random setup.
 
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Russ Williams
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SgtSagara1001 wrote:
it's the Sheldon-like side of my nature (to those who don't watch the TV show The Big Bang Theory then my apologies for the reference... Side note: if you're not watching Big Bang then you should be! ). I've tried piling and pushing the tiles into a circle as well as pulling the tiles from a bag. While the former is certainly the quickest/easiest method neither provides a random setup.

I share some Sheldon-like properties, but really, this seems going too far to me.

Can you tell me where in the rules that it requires that the starting arrangment must be uniformly randomly selected? I certainly don't see it! I only see "Place the (regular) patches in a circle or oval around the time board." In the absence of any statement placing restrictions on that, it seems clear that you can place them however you like.

It's really unnecessary to generate each possible permutation with equal probability. It's simply an arbitrary setup, which in practice will be different each time you play.

If you want, it is perfectly legal to even intentionally experiment with starting setups, e.g. sort the patches by size, or sort the patches by button cost, or sort the patches by button income, or sort the patches by color, etc. (Just like you can intentionally try specific starting setups with Dominion decks or Kingdom Builder boards, for example, or setup arbitrarily or randomly, as you like.)

The Patchwork police won't arrest you for not uniformly randomly selecting one of the possible permutations, because there is no rule requiring you to uniformly randomly select a possible permutation!

Of course if you really want to uniformly randomly select a starting permutation, you can, but that's a lot of tedious work to get an effect which is in practice indistinguishable from simply laying them out arbitrarily.
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Andy Burgess
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Whilst I'm with you that it's just not worth the bother to perfectly randomise the patch distribution at the start of the game - life's just too short! - I can understand the mindset that would lead to thinking that this is important for a fair game.

Consider an extreme alternative - that the tiles are always set up in the same order, with the position marker in the same place, every time you play. If you can show that there is an ideal move to be made for each player on each turn, then you'll have reached a deterministic outcome. Obviously, that's a pretty big "if", but you can see where the worry comes from.

Also, and more likely than the extreme scenario outlined above, you can imagine a case where someone has worked out a logically "good" sequence of patches in the circle. If that person can influence the arrangement to ensure that this sequence is set up, and also arrange things such that they get to play the start of the sequence in an advantageous way, cries of foul play wouldn't go amiss.

This also leads to the worry that you'd do it yourself, subconsciously.

But like I said - I don't really consider any of this an argument for being precise about the random distribution of patches. I think the chance of anyone pulling this off deliberately or by chance more than once is incredibly slim, and therefore it's all inconsequential.
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Russ Williams
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MercifulBiscuit wrote:
Whilst I'm with you that it's just not worth the bother to perfectly randomise the patch distribution at the start of the game - life's just too short! - I can understand the mindset that would lead to thinking that this is important for a fair game.

Consider an extreme alternative - that the tiles are always set up in the same order, with the position marker in the same place, every time you play. If you can show that there is an ideal move to be made for each player on each turn, then you'll have reached a deterministic outcome. Obviously, that's a pretty big "if", but you can see where the worry comes from.

Sure, just like every time strong players play Chess or Shogi, with those games' fixed setups, the players always play out the exact same sequence of moves every time...

Quote:
Also, and more likely than the extreme scenario outlined above, you can imagine a case where someone has worked out a logically "good" sequence of patches in the circle. If that person can influence the arrangement to ensure that this sequence is set up, and also arrange things such that they get to play the start of the sequence in an advantageous way, cries of foul play wouldn't go amiss.

Given that both players are arbitrarily arranging the tiles during setup, this paranoid conspiracy scenario of one person intentionally arranging a hypothetical easy-win setup (whose existence seems very unlikely and is unproven), also seems obviously impossible...

Quote:
This also leads to the worry that you'd do it yourself, subconsciously.

The worry that you might unconsciously set up in a way that one player or the other has a winning sequence? Meh, in EVERY game of no chance and no hidden info with no ties possible (Patchwork is such a game), mathematically provably one player or the other has a guaranteed win, if they play optimally. (A basic result of combinatorial game theory.) So no matter which setup you use in Patchwork, one player or the other has a guaranteed win if they play optimally. Oh no, it's so unfair!

But in reality neither player KNOWS how to play optimally, so this is not a problem in reality.

Quote:
But like I said - I don't really consider any of this an argument for being precise about the random distribution of patches. I think the chance of anyone pulling this off deliberately or by chance more than once is incredibly slim, and therefore it's all inconsequential.

Yep.
 
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Andy Burgess
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Yeah. As I said before, or at least heavily implied, I'm not saying you're wrong, just that I can see another point of view.

I don't think Chess is a great counter-example, to be honest, for two reasons.

Firstly, the decision space in Chess is not comparable to that in Patchwork. It has a far greater depth and breadth, so a fixed starting position is far, far less of a problem. Obviously. I mean, it's Chess and it's thousands of years old, right?

Secondly, Chess doesn't include randomisation of the starting positions in the rules, so there's no opportunity for an unfairly gained advantage. And that's what the worry is here, that one player or other could bias the start of the game to gain an advantage.

But I don't think we're in disagreement, fundamentally. It's a light game. I don't think it needs over concern about starting positions. But I get why someone else would be concerned.
 
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Russ Williams
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MercifulBiscuit wrote:
Yeah. As I said before, or at least heavily implied, I'm not saying you're wrong, just that I can see another point of view.

I guess I have a hard time believing anyone is seriously worried that an opponent will surreptiously set up Patchwork into a specific arrangement which they have secretly previously solved and can play optimally no matter what the opponent does.

But whatever, we indeed seem to be on the same page about the implausibility of it.

(And there are much easier counter-remedies against this conspiracy theory than tediously setting up a literally uniformly randomly selected starting permutation.)

Also, if we are hypothesizing that someone has learned to optimally play some specific position, then there is still the chance that by uniformly random setup, they will get their preferred position, and then the opponent "unfairly" loses.

Quote:
I don't think Chess is a great counter-example, to be honest, for two reasons.

Firstly, the decision space in Chess is not comparable to that in Patchwork. It has a far greater depth and breadth, so a fixed starting position is far, far less of a problem. Obviously. I mean, it's Chess and it's thousands of years old, right?

FWIW (irrelevant technical geeky tangent): Patchwork's game decision tree is much larger than Chess's (many more possible moves per turn, and both last a few dozen turns on average - i.e. similar tree depth but Patchwork's tree is much bushier).

So in principle, I could theoretically imagine them being similarly deep. We just don't have enough of a long history of players and ratings to know how far the spread is from newbie to master level player like we do for Chess...
 
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Andy Burgess
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russ wrote:
FWIW (irrelevant technical geeky tangent): Patchwork's game decision tree is much larger than Chess's (many more possible moves per turn, and both last a few dozen turns on average - i.e. similar tree depth but Patchwork's tree is much bushier).

So in principle, I could theoretically imagine them being similarly deep. We just don't have enough of a long history of players and ratings to know how far the spread is from newbie to master level player like we do for Chess...


Continuing with the irrelevant (but more interesting) geeky tangent, whilst I have to concede your point that there are many possible moves per turn in a game of Patchwork given all the possible permutations of placing patches, this matters far, far less than in Chess, because you're not playing on the same board. The decisions that you take that can actually affect the other player boil down to three options, most of the time, perhaps a bit more if you can take a couple of turns in a row. This starts to get more complicated towards the end of the game, of course, when you can start to take into account what will and won't fit on your opponents board, but that's only an endgame consideration, when the depth of the decision space is very small.

And of course, in Chess, you've got up to 16 pieces you can move in a large number of different ways, which only opens up towards the end of the game, when you might have fewer pieces, but more space to move them around.

All of which is to say that no, I really do think that the decision space in Chess is much larger than in Patchwork, which makes Chess the more interesting game, academically, but Patchwork the more fun game, subjectively, and certainly the more accessible.
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Christopher Corrigan
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MrLussier wrote:
Crown Royal bag bag Classic!

But seriously, some of you are much more competitive Patchwork players. I defiantly dump and place in a circle.

Numbered tiles with an iphone randomizer and a non-partisan third party sorter? How much do you play for?

Forget the bag, the pieces, the game. The Crown Royal is enough for me.
 
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Maurizio De Leo
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russ wrote:
FWIW (irrelevant technical geeky tangent): Patchwork's game decision tree is much larger than Chess's (many more possible moves per turn, and both last a few dozen turns on average - i.e. similar tree depth but Patchwork's tree is much bushier).

So in principle, I could theoretically imagine them being similarly deep. We just don't have enough of a long history of players and ratings to know how far the spread is from newbie to master level player like we do for Chess...


While you are technically correct, the selection and the placement of the patches don't have the same "importance" in Patchwork.
The position does not count except for fitting the last 1-2 tiles and for the 7x7 bonus. A simplistic approach to placing (keep the tiles compact,with no lookahead) will do 90% of the work for all except the very very top players.

So I would say the "sensible" branching factor for patchwork is around 6 (one of 3 tiles and a couple reasonable placements for each tile), i.e. comparable and probably lower than the "sensible" branching factor for chess.

The average length of the game is about 26 ply for Patchwork, while it's at least double for chess.

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