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Subject: Vowel-starved rounds rss

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Bruce Ravel
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Last night, we had a round in a 3-player game with only one vowel among all three hands and the common letters. That makes the drafting a bit pointless and the word phase no fun at all!

It seems like the game needs a rule for this situation -- something like an ability to add any vowel for 0 or -1 points when a hand has access to no vowels.

We loved the game (last night was my first time bringing it out), but the vowel-less problem happened several times -- mostly to me soblue
 
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Robin David
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Hi, Bruce! Thanks for getting in touch.

I'm surprised it happened several times - a third of the deck is vowels! But that's just how things come out sometimes I guess. We tested with varying amount of vowel cards and 1/3 seemed the most reasonable - so players generally aren't starved for them, nor are there too many, making the draft too easy. It may be the case that this issue is more prominent at 3 players because there are fewer cards in play.

I'll raise this at the next playtest session I have. One solution may be to allow players to use vowels that they don't have in hand, at a cost of -1 point.
 
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Bruce Ravel
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Hi Robin,

Thanks for the quick reply. I agree that more vowels would choke scoring opportunities. I did a quick-n-dirty calculation and you are right that the chances of drawing 18 cards in round one and having only one of them be a vowel is pretty small (about 0.1%), but not vanishingly small. We saw exactly that last night (grrrrr!!!). And, as you say, with three players, the deck gets diminished pretty quickly.

And there were several other times that only two or three vowels came up. In that case, choosing a consonant in the first pick in the drafting phase can easily leave a hand without vowels. While you could argue that the player should draft better, it is very much not fun to be unable to play anything non-Lovecraftian in the word phase.

I will likely play again on Wednesday. We'll try out the -1 rule and let you know how it works out.

None of this is criticism. We really enjoyed the game. As we were packing up, much of the discussion was very favorable comparison to Paperback.
 
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Robin David
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Thanks, Bruce. I'm glad you had fun with it!

Do let me know how that rule fares. I'll try it with my group too and issue a FAQ if need be.
 
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Jamie A
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No further feedback on this issue or rule testing?

Just read a blog post about the game and am considering an order, however blogger also noted in their first round a total of one vowel across players...
 
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Robin David
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Hi Jamie!

The above ruling has worked well in plays, with no big repercussions. There is still the incentive to draft the cards you need, but it's not a disaster if you don't get any vowels. With 3 and 4 players, it's very rare to have this issue.

So, the rule goes: Players can add one extra vowel card to their word, without an appropriate card, at a cost of -1 point. Vowel cards are A, E, I, O and U.

Just like letter cards, these vowels can be doubled, but would still only cost -1 point. These vowels can be used to score the different characters, though some characters (like Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde and H.P. Lovecraft) will now have players competing for them more often.

Thanks!

Robin
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Matt Manda
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Reading this made me speculate if the game would be better if the cards in the middle were all vowels, and only consonants were drafted. So the players are picking the best consonants for a small set of vowels that change each round. It would mimic the good Scrabble tactic of ensuring a hand is balanced, over scoring a few extra points.
 
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Robin David
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In testing, three vowels always in the middle proved to be too much. The new edition has a deck of vowel cards which always ensures that there is at least one vowel in the middle for every round. It's proven to be much smoother.
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kos blaat
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why not deal everyone a random vowel at the start.
 
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