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Pandánte (Second Edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: Panda Express Variant rss

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John Petraitis
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I am a bit surprised to see that a variant for this game has not been posted. Even with the streamlined second version of Pandante, the problem with this game remains that each hand is a bit too slow and complex to let the fun and strategy of poker shine through. With a few simple tweaks listed below, I have found this to have changed from a game that my family and friends dreaded when I pulled it out to it now being a game that is regularly requested with plenty of laughs and fun for all.

Rule Tweaks:
1. Only one ability can be played after the turn (not two).
2. Folded players/players caught lying cannot challenge.
3. Play with the Casino, jokers, and gold coin add-ons and none of the other options.

That's it! The single ability really moves the game along and causes the bets to be a bit more conservative/bluffs to be more outrageous. Removing the folded players is just more intuitive and rewards players that do not just make the most aggressive bet. The lost player interaction doesn't matter because the hands are now lightning fast (like poker!). Playing with the casinos, gold coin and jokers makes the laughter happen, but I won't add the casinos and gold coin with new players until we have played a couple of hands (jokers are fine to include from the start, though). I also recommend turning and burning a card when dealing to the community cards (more intuitive for poker players) and playing with the Tarot card version if you have them (they are just opulent!).

Try it and let me know what you think! We find that the game becomes fun because it is now intuitive and moves at a good pace. It keeps all the good parts of poker and the unique twist of the Pandante system without losing anything that you will miss.


 
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David Sirlin
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If folded players can't challenge, the game is immediately broken.

The problem is that the last player in turn order needs to be challengeable. If they aren't, then they can "lie" and have no one to challenge them, so they get a Panda Coin (or Panda Lord in v1) too. Probably someone else can explain this better, since it's been a while since I had to think through it all, but they basically need some force to always act on a check to potentially challenge them and NOT have that depend on earlier players really having their hands. Consider especially the cases where everyone lies. The last player wins because they are the only one left, and no one was around to challenge them. It's even more broken in a 2p game, but also doesn't work when there are more players.

Consider these possible rules for handling challenges of hands:

a) Only players remaining (non-folded) can challenge. They do it in the normal turn order.
b) Only players remaining (non-folded) can challenge. Players receive those challenges in REVERSE turn order (last player is challenged first.)
c) All players (even folded players) can challenge. They do it in the normal turn order.

In early, unhshipped versions of the game, it was choice a). But actually, that is just a broken system. The first shipped version of Pandante fixed this by going to version b). That works, but it's unfortunate that ONE thing has to be reverse turn order while everything else is normal turn order. So this was fixed an even better way in 2nd Edition by going to version c). Now everything can be forward turn order and it's not broken.

We tried to keep it as rule a), but as soon as good players played the game, it fell apart. It became all about abusive strategies for the player last in turn order and our testers basically revolted. Hence the move to version b), and then the eventual streamlining and simplification of rules for version c).

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John Petraitis
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Wow! David Sirlin! Thank you so very much for reading my post and commenting on my proposed variant. I own the most recent versions of many of your games including Yomi and Puzzle Strike and they are some of my favorites!

I haven't seen the situation you described play out (likely because we usually bluff on missed hands that are more feasible/possible to be real based on what is showing on the community cards) but I can now see how this could happen repetitvely and break the game. The challenge I see with the three options you presented is that it eliminates a fundamental element of poker - increasing your probability of a successful bluff by eliminating the number of opponents you need to bluff through strategic play. For example, in poker you might raise your bet substantially to get other players to fold. You would be more likely to bluff in this situation because you have fewer players you need to successfully get to buy what you are selling. The other problem I see here is that the possibility of no one winning the pot is in play (no one likes this - it is the equivalent of kissing your sibling).

So we both agree you need a check on a player consistently lying that they have worst hand to win the pot when no one else is around to challenge. What I think we want to encourage is a fairly equal distribution of lying on a realistic hand vs. playing and betting a hand based on the cards you actually have. I would think that we also want to limit the number of hands where no one wins the pot and make more nail-biting decisions wherever possible.

Here is my new proposal - the Panda Express Sweet Revenge variant. The same rule tweaks I originally posted with one addition - when only one player remains the player that bluffed the highest hand and was first knocked out is the only person that can challenge to receive sweet panda revenge. If the first player correctly challenges and identifies the last bluff, they get their initial loss of 5 gold back! If they guess wrong, they lose their initial 5 gold from their lost bluff plus 5 gold times the number of players with everyone at the table watching and hanging on the outcome. Talk about nail-biting! Pots are less likely to roll over because the first player doesn't want to compound their losses. The last player doesn't want to bluff too crazy of a hand because they can be caught and the pot will just roll forward with them losing 5 gold. The in between positions are rewarded because they have fewer people to bluff/have better probability of winning the pot with the cards they have.

Thoughts? This is untested, but I will try it out.
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John Petraitis
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Just tried it. It worked great!!! We did have a pot that rolled over because everyone lied on the casino card where you cannot peek at your hole cards, but everyone laughed and enjoyed the next big pot which won the game for someone that was trailing and needed the fairy in the early game.
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