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Subject: Different sorts of Trick-Taking-Games rss

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Alex
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I'm currently designing a thematic Trick-Taking Card-Game for 2 players with some tweaks, like dice-rolling and Unit-Special-Abilities (theme is medieval warfare). The thing is, I actually hate trick-taking-games with a vengeance, and my goal with this project is, to design a game even I like to play (even though I might never win, 'cause I suck royally at these kinds of games).

Whatever, currently the rules of the Trick-Taking-part are as follows:

- Before each hand, there's a phase, where you exchange some cards with your opponents.
- You must follow suit.
- If you can't follow suit, you may either "sacrifice" a unit or take the trick with a trump-suit-card.
- Once trump-suit has been played, you may also lead with a trump-card (and, of course, if you don't have any other cards in your hand).

Now, I'm thinking, wether I should scrap the rule, that you have to follow suit, allowing you also to "sacrifice" cards, even if you'd be able to play the leading suit. Would that change a lot? Would it make the game "better" or more tactical? Or more random and chaotic?

That, in turn, begs the question, what that "you may only play trump when you can't follow suit"-rule actually does; scrap that as well? Let you play any card you want, all the time?

Any insight and opinions?
 
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Nathaniel Grisham

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I don't mind trick-taking games, but I think that playing one with only two players is really boring.

What are the goals behind the trick-taking? That would help determine what the players should or should not be able to do.

Are they trying to get the most tricks?
Trying to get a specific number of tricks? (determined by a bidding phase like bridge, or maybe some other element)
Trying to collect/win specific cards?

What tools are needed by a player to try to reach their goal? What tools are needed by the opponent to try to prevent it?
 
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Joe Huber

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In general, allowing players to ruff (play trump) even when able to follow suit makes for a very chaotic game. It tends to emphasize, even more than usual, the importance of having a good hand - but also tends to make corner cases impossible, as not being able to draw trump limits the value of even a powerful hand. The same is true for allowing players to sluff (sacrifice) even if able to follow suit - if you're going to scrap the need to follow suit, it doesn't really make a big difference how it's done, _unless_ you make it rather convoluted (you must follow a trump lead, but need not follow non-trump leads...).

So yes - more random and chaotic. And - likely less appealing to those who enjoy trick taking games, FWIW.
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Alex
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Thanks!
Sounds reasonable; and so far the game works quite well as it is, and gotten favorable feedback from various testers. I really don't want to change a lot about it's core-mechanics anymore, I just got to think about it, recently. Now there's still the issue, if I want to allow people to also lead with trump, even if it hasn't been played yet; to be honest, I don't even know where that rule comes from, it just was there right from the start. wow Well, from a thematic side, it kinda makes sense: you don't open a battle by sending your best units out there as vanguard; you'll rather keep 'em up your sleeve for when the time is right to change the tide.
 
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Josh Bodah
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Triumvirate is a great two player trick taking game. The thing that makes it work is you pledge for one of the suits at the end of each round. Also, each suit scores tricks; not the players. Players win by having the most support in the winning suit. This adds a layer of deduction which works great

As an avid trick taker, these games tend to be highly strategic. I would be worried about adding too much randomness (e.g. dice). I think the main things that make trick taking games interesting are the double-think and strategy from card counting/deducing what the opponent has left
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Alex
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Alrighty:
The core mechanic of my game is the following: the trick-taking part works without dice, I don't want to undermine the strategy here. On the other hand, this is supposed to be a sort of trick-taking-game for players who don't really like trick-taking-games (like me), so cards also have Attack and Defence-Values, and if, in the end, you have less tricks than your opponent, you're on the defensive and may use Defence-Values (fixed numbers). The other player is on the offense, and uses dice to do damage (there's 3 kinds of dice, Critical Damage, Piercing Damage and Regular Damage), and they can also be manipulated by Tactic-Tokens; however, the player on the offense also has to take care not to have more than 8 cards (each round plays with 7 cards per player), or else he gets a malus for each unit in his trick, which, corresponding to the current terrain, is being delayed (for example, if it's all foggy, Archers can't shoot as precise, swampy terrain delays cavalry, and so on). That's roughly it, although there are a couple of additional tweaks, like duels, reinforcements and special abilities.
 
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Nathaniel Grisham

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diceman2k4 wrote:
Thanks!
Sounds reasonable; and so far the game works quite well as it is, and gotten favorable feedback from various testers. I really don't want to change a lot about it's core-mechanics anymore, I just got to think about it, recently. Now there's still the issue, if I want to allow people to also lead with trump, even if it hasn't been played yet; to be honest, I don't even know where that rule comes from, it just was there right from the start. wow Well, from a thematic side, it kinda makes sense: you don't open a battle by sending your best units out there as vanguard; you'll rather keep 'em up your sleeve for when the time is right to change the tide.


I would say keep the rule to not allow trump to be played until after it's been "broken". Usually, players don't want to lead it until they get a feel for what's in the other players' hands, but having this rule prevents players who get a really good hand from taking over right away.

The main strategy behind a trick-taking game is knowing when you can/need to keep the lead, and when you need to let the other player(s) lead. Usually both players need to be able to experience this for the game to be good, though. If you get a good hand, the fun is in seeing how far you can make it go. If you have a bad hand, the fun is in seeing which plays you can block. So you can try it out and see whether is still feels like a trick taking game, or if the hands start to become too one-sided.
 
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Alex
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Thanks!
Seems like I unconsciously made the right call when thinking up that rule. It's kinda always been there, and always felt "right" thematically. One thing I do know is, though, that I enjoy that feeling of surprise, when the first trump-card is being played. The other way it'll be a bit like: "Here's my Ace, let's see what you got, so we can start playing," no?
 
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Brian Bankler
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If you don't have to follow suit it's not a trick taking game.

That being said, bridgette has a card or two you can always play, but you lose the trick. So these cards have some value if played well ... like your opponent is trying to pull your last trump with his.

So even bridgette has the concept of a suit less card or two
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Joe Huber

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Bankler wrote:
That being said, bridgette has a card or two you can always play, but you lose the trick. So these cards have some value if played well ... like your opponent is trying to pull your last trump with his.


Good point. While I don't qualify it as a trick taking game, Foppen has something similar with the 1s, which _can_ be played to follow suit, but which don't have to be played. And one of the powers in Tezuma Master is not following suit. So having specific, limited opportunities to not follow suit works just fine, and not chaotically.
 
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Eric Brosius
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Bankler wrote:
If you don't have to follow suit it's not a trick taking game.

Does a trick-taking game have to have suits?
 
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Mark Delano
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Bankler wrote:
If you don't have to follow suit it's not a trick taking game.


I think the criteria for trick taking is each player plays a single card and then the winner of the trick is determined. I would consider Sticheln a trick taking game, which your requirement of following suit would preclude.
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Joe Huber

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frunkee wrote:
I think the criteria for trick taking is each player plays a single card and then the winner of the trick is determined.


I'd add that there needs to be some clear scoring advantage to winning tricks, which is why I don't consider Foppen a trick taking game. The advantage can be many things - winning as many tricks as possible, winning specific cards in tricks, winning specific tricks - but IMHO winning the lead is not sufficient to make a game a trick taking game. (Honshu is frequently described as a trick taking game, but also fails for me on this point - the only benefit to winning is first choice.)
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Raymond Gallardo
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Eric Brosius wrote:
Bankler wrote:
If you don't have to follow suit it's not a trick taking game.

Does a trick-taking game have to have suits?


Ziegen Kriegen is a trick-taking game with only one suit.

Briscola doesn't force players to follow suit, but suit is important.

Potato Man forces players not to follow suit!

 
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Eric Brosius
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huber wrote:
I'd add that there needs to be some clear scoring advantage to winning tricks[...]

So you would agree that Trick of the Rails is not only a track-taking game, but also a trick-taking game?

 
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Joe Huber

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Eric Brosius wrote:
So you would agree that Trick of the Rails is not only a track-taking game, but also a trick-taking game?


Yes. Yes I would. But I've also never claimed to like all trick-taking games...
 
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Lucas Hedgren
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huber wrote:
frunkee wrote:
I think the criteria for trick taking is each player plays a single card and then the winner of the trick is determined.


I'd add that there needs to be some clear scoring advantage to winning tricks, which is why I don't consider Foppen a trick taking game. The advantage can be many things - winning as many tricks as possible, winning specific cards in tricks, winning specific tricks - but IMHO winning the lead is not sufficient to make a game a trick taking game. (Honshu is frequently described as a trick taking game, but also fails for me on this point - the only benefit to winning is first choice.)


So Hearts is not a trick taking game? You can certainly win Hearts without winning any tricks, right?
 
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Eric Brosius
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huber wrote:
But I've also never claimed to like all trick-taking games...

Oh, I wasn't suggesting that you like it. I was just trying to clarify the definition with an example.
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Raymond Gallardo
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Hello!

diceman2k4 wrote:
The thing is, I actually hate trick-taking-games with a vengeance, and my goal with this project is, to design a game even I like to play (even though I might never win, 'cause I suck royally at these kinds of games).

May I ask what features you don't like about trick taking games?
diceman2k4 wrote:
Now, I'm thinking, wether I should scrap the rule, that you have to follow suit, allowing you also to "sacrifice" cards, even if you'd be able to play the leading suit. Would that change a lot? Would it make the game "better" or more tactical? Or more random and chaotic?

That, in turn, begs the question, what that "you may only play trump when you can't follow suit"-rule actually does; scrap that as well? Let you play any card you want, all the time?

There are several games where you don't have to follow suit such as Briscola because you can't enforce it at all. Many games by David Parlett such as Mismatch and Rummage let players play any card they want, but there are big consequences when you follow, or don't follow, suit.

As for restrictions about playing trump cards, Jass and other games in the same family, like Cosmic Eidex let you either follow suit or play trump. This gives players more control of what tricks they want to win, and lose, as this is more important in Cosmic Eidex.

What I like about trick taking games where you're forced to follow suit is it enables me to both (a) deduce what cards my opponents are holding and (b) manipulate the hands of my opponents (by forcing them to play cards that they don't want to play) enabling me to win more tricks, especially with my weaker cards. It's a simple rule that adds a lot of interaction to trick taking games.

But this is all beside the point as you mentioned that you don't want to change the core mechanics of your game.

As for your question of whether or not to allow player to lead trump before they are broken: One tactic regarding leading trump early is to drain all the other trump cards from your opponent's hands so you can win tricks more easily with your lower trumps. Personally, I would prefer that players could lead trump any time they want as that's one less restriction that players have to remember ... generally, less rules the better! But restricting what players play reduces the number of choices players have, which might be a good thing as you have added an involved battle mechanic to your game and a lot of additional information on your cards. So now it's a question of game flow. Traditional trick taking games play very fast. I suppose your game plays a bit slower by nature of the additional mechanisms. So I'd go for whichever mechanisms reduce AP for each player -- which might mean reducing the number of choices that they have each turn, thus keeping the rules that you already have in your game (following suit, and restrictions on trump leads).
 
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Joe Huber

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boomtron wrote:
So Hearts is not a trick taking game? You can certainly win Hearts without winning any tricks, right?


Correct - I do not consider Hearts a trick taking game.
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Mark Delano
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huber wrote:

Correct - I do not consider Hearts a trick taking game.


Would you consider Hearts a trick taking game while someone could still shoot the moon? How about Mu or Rook, which also frequently have tricks that aren't worth anything other than the lead?
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Joe Huber

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Haven't played Rook enough to say.

Mü is definitely a trick taking game - while it's possible for a trick to be worth nothing, the average trick is worth 5 points.

I agree that shooting the moon is an interesting corner case, but it's the rare exception rather than the rule, so it doesn't sway me.
 
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Mark Delano
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How about Hearts with the Jack of Diamonds being worth 10 good points (ptooi)?
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Alex
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rayzg wrote:
May I ask what features you don't like about trick taking games?

Because most of the time they're pretty abstract, and I like some theme with my games.

Thanks for your thoughts, some useful stuff in there.
You have to follow suit in my game, I don't like to change that, that's become clear to me now; deducing what cards my opponent has, and play around that, is a big thing, since, like you said, in my game you need some control over how many tricks you'll be taking. About that trump-thing, I'm not sure if I should allow it to be led, even if it hasn't been broken yet; I'm still thinking thematically here, not mechanically, and I like that surprise-moment once the first trump (=Elite-Unit) hits the table, but I will ask around among test-players what they will think.

rayzg wrote:
But restricting what players play reduces the number of choices players have, which might be a good thing as you have added an involved battle mechanic to your game and a lot of additional information on your cards.


There's not much information on the cards, opposed to what you've might be thinking, in fact it's just symbols: a shield for Defensive Value, and a colored Axe for Offensive (what kind of die the Unit will give). Some cards don't even have values at all, and Special Abilities of Unit-Types(=suits) are only resolved with the very last card being played from each hand (got a nifty duel-mechanic here, one I'm pretty proud about), and there's only one specific to each suit, so no need to clutter the cards with text. It's a pretty light game, very streamlined, with literally no exceptions to rules, lasts about 25 minutes max, and can be taught within 3 minutes; everything else comes together during the first round of fighting.
 
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Joe J. Rushanan
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huber wrote:
boomtron wrote:
So Hearts is not a trick taking game? You can certainly win Hearts without winning any tricks, right?


Correct - I do not consider Hearts a trick taking game.


Really? And here I thought by just changing the word "advantage" to "dependency" in your original categorization would handle this case fine. FWIW, I find a definition of trick-taking-game that does not include Hearts to be lacking.
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