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The Duke» Forums » Variants

Subject: Archduke - Bigger & less random/swingy rss

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guest guest
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Danvers
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Hey everyone!

As the name probably gives it away, my archduke variant makes the game a bit bigger. But that's not all. It also diminishes the random tile drawing aspect. Or rather the swingy part of it. First of all you don't play it on the normal 6x6 board but on an 8x8 board. If you own a chessboard you are good to go.

Before you place your starting pieces, you draw a fourth tile at random from your bag and place it next to the board. After that, set-up happens as usual. You put your duke on one of the two center squares of your homerow and the two footman tiles adjacent to him. Now remember that fourth tile you drew and placed next to the board? It's like a middle step between drawing and placing it on the board. This is how I diminished the swingy part of the random tile draw. Both players know what they get next and also what the opponent gets next. And after placing that tile, you draw a new one and place it next to the board. That way you know what to expect and can still prepare even if your opponent has a much more useful tile lined up than you. The draw itself is still random, but both players always know what's coming before it hits the board. When you make your move you analyze the board and also consider the piece your opponent has lined up. It makes games more predictable and calculable as well as less swingy while still keeping the element of randomness.

In addition to that, I also thought about another thing but never tried it. During your turn, instead of using a tile, placing a tile, or using a special ability, you may flip your duke without moving him. This makes him more maneuverable and opens up the game for stronger offensive and defensive play. But it could also make the game too crazy. Again, I never tried it.

Please let me know what you think of my variant!
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Justin
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I might be able to try it this weekend. The only things that concern me is that by making the board larger you are making pieces like the footman less useful and pieces with the slide a lot more valuable.

Also I'm not big on flipping the duke as an option. I've tried a couple different variants for the game. Anything that changes how the duke works or what ever pieces your trying to capture, hurts the game.

Its important that the duke be stuck only being able to move on the x or y axis. It helps keep the games from going on too long.
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Cole
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Sun Prairie
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I agree about the size and giving him another option. Slide gets OP fast the larger the board is. The Duke tile is already one of, if not the, strongest piece you have. Too strong and you'll never be able to catch them. Allowing a flip removes the win condition of your opponent not having valid moves left. Granted you'll never catch the Duke with the extra sliding space on the larger board and you can always due to two duplicate moves in a row rule but that seems heavy handed.

If you are going to increase the board size, I'd start small and slowly get bigger to see how the game changes. As I said, I suspect that at some point the game falls apart. It might not happen at 8 but you may start feeling it. I always like the idea of 7 as it adds a middle row/col.

I like the staging area idea on the draw. I don't really find the bag all that swingy unless you are playing with a really large bag (lots of extra tiles from promos or xpacs). But this adds another level that would be fun to explore.
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Danvers
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Thanks for the replies!

Yes, the larger board size adds more time to the game and makes slide pieces more potent, but we found out that we actually enjoy that. Makes the game feel more grandiouse in scale.

But the main part of my variant is the non-random draw anyway. We also play like that with the normal 6x6 board. We didn't enjoy the unpredictable nature of the game so I came up with that inbetween step. You can of course play like that with any board size.

And the more I think about it the more my idea about flipping the duke without moving sounds like a crackpot idea. whistle
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Cole
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I wouldn't say its crackpot. It is already a mechanism that's sort of used....if a tile has no symbols it may be flipped in-place as an action. Though that doesn't apply to the duke. Several of the special powers (the roman numeral powers) allow for flipping the duke or the tile displaying the power in exchange for using the power.

If all you are looking for is a way to sort of "pass", build a custom piece with a special power that allows it to flip in-place. It is self-limiting in that infinite loops can be blocked by removing that piece and it is somewhat balanced in that the benefit can be removed by the pieces capture.

Or better yet, build it into your drafting system. Either give the power to the duke (which I would do in this case) or make a custom tile with the power; discard (from the game) your staged tile, flip your duke in place, and draw a new tile into your staging area. That way it is self limiting (doesn't need a special rule to prevent infinite loops) and it is self balancing (in that you lose something for the bonus of maintaining your position).

In generally I don't have long to play (kid is still young enough to make any game time rare) so I don't want ways to increase game length. But as with any game, it is really more a kit for fun then rules of law. If you like it, more power to ya.

Though I think I am stealing your idea for my games.
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Armand
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There's a card game I love called Morels that does a great job of mitigating blind draws. Pretty much any game with blind draws, I try to adapt the idea... so...

Shuffle all of your tiles and line them up in a queue. So you're not just seeing your next tile, you're seeing all the way down the road. You can always draw the next tile in line and deploy it as usual.

You can also sacrifice tiles on the board to skip further down the line. Sac a tile to draw the second tile, sac two from the board to draw the third.

It's an idea, probably a crackpot one too, but as long as we're spitballing...

(You could also make a flat pyramid layout of tiles. Draw the tile at the point of the pyramid free; sac one from the board to draw either of the second row; sac two to deploy your pick of the the next three. This idea's in special crackpotarentheses.)
 
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