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Subject: Seeding the cube tower before the game starts? rss

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Ian B
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I've finally got my copy of Wallenstein (1st ed) to the table after getting it in a trade some months ago. I've played it twice now and had a lot of fun both times.

One thing that seems a little strange to me is the initial 'seeding' of the cube tower as the rule book explains (English copy Wallenstein_Rulebook_Version_2.pdf)

Quote:
"Finally, the cube tower is prepared. This is done by throwing 7 army cubes from each player and 10 peasant amry cubes (green) all at once into the top of the tower. All the cubes that fall into the tower's tray are returned to supplies, including the peasant armies"


This is all pretty straightforward and simple to understand.

What confuses me is that this can potentially create quite an inbalance in the number of cubes from each player in the tower. One player may have most or all 7 fall through while another might have only a few, or even none, fall through.

After the ones that fell into the tray are removed; the remaining ones in the tower stay in the tower system until the player is involved in a battle. This gives the player with more cubes potentially quite an advantage in early battles as, most likely, before too long these will come out of the tower and help in the battle.

Also as it is clear from how many have fallen out the number that remain it is easy for a player to gripe that they are at a disadvantage at the start like "Hey I had only 1 of mine stick in the tower while you lucky swine have 6 of yours in the tower!"

Has anyone encountered player's griping about this? Or is this random element not really a large enough issue to be a problem?

I wonder if it might be improved by changing the tower seeding rules somehow. For example:

Option A

1) Collect 7 cubes from each player and 10 peasants.
2) Throw them in the tower.
3) Look in the tray. For every player: remove half (rounded down) of their cubes from the tray.
4) For every 3 peasant cubes in the tray remove 2 cubes (i.e. two thirds rounded down).
5) Leave the rest in the tray.

Option B

1) Throw 4 from every player plus 5 peasants into the tower
2) For each player if they have fewer than 3 cubes in the tray add 1 cube to the tray. For the peasants if fewer than 4 then add 1 cube.
3) Collect all cubes from the tray and throw them in the tower.
4) Remove all cubes from the tray.

Option C

Just do the initial set up with 2 player cubes and 4 peasant cubes.


As an aside I wonder if the method of throwing this large number of initial cubes has an effect on how many fall through. So if the whole lot are dropped in all together quickly versus trickled in maybe moving the hand in a small circle around the funnel.

 
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Batz wrote:
I've finally got my copy of Wallenstein (1st ed) to the table after getting it in a trade some months ago. I've played it twice now and had a lot of fun both times.

One thing that seems a little strange to me is the initial 'seeding' of the cube tower as the rule book explains (English copy Wallenstein_Rulebook_Version_2.pdf)

Quote:
"Finally, the cube tower is prepared. This is done by throwing 7 army cubes from each player and 10 peasant amry cubes (green) all at once into the top of the tower. All the cubes that fall into the tower's tray are returned to supplies, including the peasant armies"


This is all pretty straightforward and simple to understand.

What confuses me is that this can potentially create quite an inbalance in the number of cubes from each player in the tower. One player may have most or all 7 fall through while another might have only a few, or even none, fall through.

After the ones that fell into the tray are removed; the remaining ones in the tower stay in the tower system until the player is involved in a battle. This gives the player with more cubes potentially quite an advantage in early battles as, most likely, before too long these will come out of the tower and help in the battle.

Also as it is clear from how many have fallen out the number that remain it is easy for a player to gripe that they are at a disadvantage at the start like "Hey I had only 1 of mine stick in the tower while you lucky swine have 6 of yours in the tower!"

Has anyone encountered player's griping about this? Or is this random element not really a large enough issue to be a problem?

I wonder if it might be improved by changing the tower seeding rules somehow. For example:

Option A

1) Collect 7 cubes from each player and 10 peasants.
2) Throw them in the tower.
3) Look in the tray. For every player: remove half (rounded down) of their cubes from the tray.
4) For every 3 peasant cubes in the tray remove 2 cubes (i.e. two thirds rounded down).
5) Leave the rest in the tray.

Option B

1) Throw 4 from every player plus 5 peasants into the tower
2) For each player if they have fewer than 3 cubes in the tray add 1 cube to the tray. For the peasants if fewer than 4 then add 1 cube.
3) Collect all cubes from the tray and throw them in the tower.
4) Remove all cubes from the tray.

Option C

Just do the initial set up with 2 player cubes and 4 peasant cubes.


As an aside I wonder if the method of throwing this large number of initial cubes has an effect on how many fall through. So if the whole lot are dropped in all together quickly versus trickled in maybe moving the hand in a small circle around the funnel.



In my 9 plays, it's never been an issue, and no one has ever complained about it. The tower is meant to be a "fog of war" mechanism, and is supposed to be inherently chaotic. Whatever differences there are in the initial seeding has never seemed to be a big deal - just a little extra bit of "noise" that would be easily surmountable by clever strategy & tactics.

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Ian B
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Thanks for your thoughts JohnnyDollar. I think it probably depends on the group and also the difference in number of cubes retained. If the group is relaxed and the differential between cubes retained by the tower has always been minimal between players then I would expect no issue.

I brought it up because in my last game one player got a 'bee in his bonnet' about the fact that all his cubes fell through, then he lost a few initial battles so he got a bit grumpy.

I think I might test some alternative seeding methods and try one of them in the next game.
 
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Batz wrote:
Thanks for your thoughts JohnnyDollar. I think it probably depends on the group and also the difference in number of cubes retained. If the group is relaxed and the differential between cubes retained by the tower has always been minimal between players then I would expect no issue.

I brought it up because in my last game one player got a 'bee in his bonnet' about the fact that all his cubes fell through, then he lost a few initial battles so he got a bit grumpy.

I think I might test some alternative seeding methods and try one of them in the next game.


Just to confirm - you are throwing everyone's cubes in all at the same time, right? If each color cube is thrown in separately, that could increase the odds of imbalance (for example one person drops in from the top, another throws in from an angle, etc).

Having a single person have all their cubes fall through, when dropping everything in all at once, is indeed a rare occurrence and I could see how that would be annoying. What about, in that rare case, calling a "mulligan" and letting that person drop their cubes back into the tower? And return everything that falls out back into supply as per usual.

While there might be a small differential in initial cube seeding, I don't see it that differently than for example rolling dice for start player, in a game where there is a slight advantage to start player. Not worth getting worked up about cool
 
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Ian B
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Thanks for the follow up.

Yes one person collects all the armies (7 from each player plus the 10 peasants) and then in one motion drops them in the tower.

I think your idea is a good one to try. The only issue I can see is that on the second throw if more armies of other colours come out do you leave them in the tray or remove them. I guess leave them in the tray is less contentious.
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