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Emergence: A Game of Teamwork and Deception» Forums » Rules

Subject: Showing your tokens or keeping them a secret? rss

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Markus
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Hi there,
we played a session with 3 players, so only 1 human participating.
it was pretty obvious who the human was, since you could see on the
board of each player how much tokens were left after all were putting
some into the box. I think it is more interesting to play with hidden
tokens, at least in smaller groups (3-4 players).

is there anything that would negatively affect the gameplay
when hiding your tokens?
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Adam Jacobson
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Hi Markus,

We do not plan to change this rule because we want each player to know which action each player can take. In addition, it helps the players audit and make sure that each player that has a token places at least one token into the aggregator.

However, we would be intrigued to hear back from you regarding how it impacted the game-play! We definitely do not discourage anyone from trying different variations of the game.

In addition, for three play games, we would recomend trying different maps. We are beginning to put together a map database here:
https://www.emergenceboardgame.com/cities/

City 23 and city 31 are intended for 3 player games.

Feel free to use one of our custom maps, or create your own. If you create your own map, we would love it if you shared it with us!

Best,
Adam
-The Emergence Team
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Markus
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Thanks for your help and the hint to the alternative map.
We had the impression that for 3 players the regular map
is a bit too big, so it is hard to catch the human,
but we will play several rounds to see how it works out.
 
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Markus
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We played another 2 rounds with 4 players, once with hidden tokens and once with visible, as intended.

The group agreed they had more fun with hidden tokens than with visible ones. It was easier to identify the human when the tokens were visible.

So guess we will stick to hidden tokens and just displaying one token on the board if the player has some.
 
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William Sheng
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Hey Markus!

Good call. I think it really is a house rule, some people like to keep it hidden, and reveal after the round, and some of us like to have it visible. It's funny because when we come together and plan we play by the "rules" but then when we teach other people and our friends, we all play with different styles!

Feel free to try different maps as well, I recommend Acrolyth for a four player game

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/565e92e7e4b0b002ffcc0...

 
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Jonathan Rowe
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I'm quite new to this game, but here are my thoughts. It seems to me that you should play with knowledge counters revealed.

Firstly, since compiling is a public event and data cubes are in view, keeping track of knowledge counters other players have is just a matter of Tedious Mental Maths. Of course, you could let people conceal their data cubes too (making the maths Even More Tedious) and forbid pencil-and-paper tallying. But why make anything more tedious than it has to be? There are plenty of memory games out there for people who like that sort of thing (try What's Up).

Secondly, knowing how many data cubes players have seems to be essential for working out who you should Hack; knowing their knowledge counters is important for targeting people for Termination as well as knowing who is a potential threat as a Hacker or Terminator. If players can't keep track of this information, Hacking and Terminating become wasteful actions (why go to the trouble of attacking someone who might not have anything to steal anyway?).

Thirdly - and more to the point - watching players accumulate and assimilate knowledge tokens is a key indicator of allegiance. When someone garners a large hoard of counters, the A.I.s get jittery that this is a Human. If there's ballot-box phase and that player's hoard disappears and a corresponding stash appears in the Human letterbox, then they've tipped their hand. The A.I.s have spotted the Human, but it's quite possibly too late to do anything about it. As an A.I., you can't afford to wait till then.

Humans can conceal what they're up to by making small payments into their letterbox, even though they might have larger collections on the table. In the early game, this is wise: the A.I.s probably get an early lead but (in a 3-4 player game) if the Human can assimilate 3 knowledge counters without drawing attention, they can win by collecting and assimilating 7 counters next time, which is perfectly possible by compiling 4 different cubes at once. The A.I.s have to respond by triggering Assimilation only when they personally have large donations to make, but no one else does.

Really, there's no option for the A.I.s other than discovering each other's identities through Spying. Once they know each other, they can allocate roles and clean up. The identity of the Human(s) will become apparent in time, but if you're the A.I. then time isn't on your side because the Human victory requirements are so much easier to meet.

I'm left with the view that, if you could conceal resources in the game (and I don't think you can - you can just make tracking them very tedious), you would destroy the deductive aspect of the game, producing "Oh look! Somebody won!" endings rather than the tense maneuvering and climactic race-to-the-finish tempo the game usually enjoys.
 
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