Has anyone tried a card drafting mechanic for the players initial hand of cards, instead of just random deal?
The reason I ask this is that I played for the first time on Saturday against an somewhat experienced player, someone who had played a couple of times before, and another n00b, and I won by more than a 10% margin of points from 2nd place, and almost double the slightly experienced player. It seemed to me that the main thing I benefited from was being dealt a hand of cards with a much tighter clustering of locations than anyone else. So I was able to repeatedly connected to a city on one turn and then play a card with that city on it on the next turn for an income bonus, and I was able to do this far more often than any other player. The other players had cities on their cards that were just too widely spread to be possible to connect to anywhere near as many of them. Whilst I needed to exercise some game play skill and planning to do this, it seemed highly fortuitous, and perhaps an unbalancing amount of dumb luck in the game. This bonus is about the only thing you can do in the game for extra free stuff, and seems a key tactic - connecting to somewhere you hold a card for gives you extra stuff for free compared to connecting to somewhere you don't hold a card for.
Also, more of the cities named on my cards had demand tokens on them than those available to other players in other parts of the board, giving me further bonus for just doing what I would do anyway. Whilst I realise that the bidding for starting position mitigates this a bit, the cities with demand I ended up going to were only a slightly more dense cluster than elsewhere on the board, and the other players would not know that my cards corresponded a lot to those cities, and their preference of start location would be more influenced by cities mentioned on their cards than by considerations of blocking other players from the densest cluster of demand tokens.
I see this thread https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1630858/era-cards-dealt-set..., and the idea of extra cards seems a simple one worth exploring.
I wonder if anyone else has had any other thoughts on this?
As another replied in the thread you linked, I'm skeptical of drafting in Tin Goose, since uncertainty about what your opponents hold (vs. knowing what options you have to play) is so critical to the way it plays.
On the other hand, you're right. Sometimes, the stars will align and give you an advantage. That's the nature of non-deterministic games, whether the randomness comes in via cards (check), random board setups (check), or random conflict resolution (not present here). However, sit back and think about the stars that did align in your single sample anecdote: you had a tightly clustered set of hand cards.. not very common. You not only had a good cluster of demand (not that uncommon, but this is often okay since there's competition for it as a shared resource to try to leverage before it's tapped out) that coincided with your cluster of cards (here's the uncommon part). There was a mail route with a starting route that set you up to take advantage of that clustered demand... and you won it (pretty lucky -- in my experience with the game so far, I prioritize serving demand over the income bumps from card-matching when it comes to my initial planning steps. Demand keeps me liquid throughout the game, and consider that 2 or 3 income steps are only worth 10 at the end of the game).
So I'm not sure that drafting doesn't damage the game's strategy more than it helps, and I think you'll find the problem you're trying to solve was an outlier if you play a few more games.
Let me first say, I like Tin Goose fine as it stands.
I thought about this for a bit. A draft does seem to reduces the mysterious nature of what is going to happen during the game and gives a little too much insight to what could happen.
I thought if you draft 6 cards in every era and then discard the extra (3 yellow, 2 blue and 3 red) it would deal with the certainty problem for yellow and red, but less for blue.
Thinking on it further a tiered draft of 3 cards at a time would be better. 3 to the left, 3 to the right, and discard to the appropriate number. Then repeat for blue and for red. This reduces the lucky hand issue significantly as you may or may not get the cards you need/want, keeps the mysterious nature of the game (especially if you can't bank all the cards to the end of the draft and the cards never get fully around the table).
Drafting becomes a major guessing game:
Do I draft for cities and income boosts?
Do I draft for matching planes?
Do I draft several events to try causing maximum financial damage or for financial protected?
This type of variant would introduce at least the following issues and possibly some I haven't thought about:
1. Increase in setup time (5 - 15 minutes depending on the group). AP prone players could further impact this time.
2. New players certainly won't do well unless the game is explained extensively further lengthening setup.