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Subject: Initial thoughts , some ideas and a few questions rss

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Shawn Murphy
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First of all, a big Thank You to Lajos for creating this game. Of the dozen or so cycling games that games I've tried/read the rules to ,this is now my game of choice. I'm still in the "experimenting" stage as I try out the different stage types and strategy options. Here are my thoughts so far:

What I like most is the movement of the riders and how it results in the peloton staying together in a realistic manner. The weighting of the dice heavily towards the 2-4 range and the gap closing phase really works in keeping the peloton in very natural looking forms. If no one is using any extra energy the peloton is often 3 or 4 lane wide , but if a few riders push the pace by using some energy the peloton can get quite stretched out.

The riders and their roles seem realistic as well, more so than any other cycling game I've played. While there can be exceptions, most often sprinters will compete for flat stages and can struggle on mountains. Domestiques may be able to pull off wins in a breakaway in hilly or mountain stages , or instead may be needed to stay back to make sure other riders aren't dropped or to help bridge the gap for a leader who just found himself separated.

I enjoy the decision making in this game more than the other cycling games I've tried. As the races progress I constantly find myself having to make interesting decisions each turn. Managing the riders efficiently takes some real thought in balancing the needs/goals of the individual stage vs the tour. I haven't really found that in other cycling games.

The format does take some getting used to. The focus on racing a tour and the resulting condensed races as opposed to longer individual races is different than most cycling games. I do however believe though that the game works just fine on a larger scale of 10km (or more)per tile and does indeed fit well for one day racing. And of course if one wanted to play a series of say , one day classics, this could still be done using the same fatigue rules for a tour.

I'm looking forward to playing more with the larger scale races and possibly introducing intermediate sprints along the way(virtual,like in Homastour Pro) and the occasional pinch point depending on the race.

I've tinkered with a few rules that make the game more enjoyable for me. Since I'm still new to the game and still trying things out, I'd like to hear from any of you who might see flaws in the changes or ways that my ideas may be broken in the long run. So far I've enjoyed them and the strategic choices they bring.

1. In a group , teammates can swap places with other teammates only up to 2 spaces forward or backward per positioning phase. I like the idea of placing more importance on positioning within the peloton. In a large peloton it's often hard moving forward into a desired position , so the idea that a rider could swap places automatically from the rear to the front didn't feel right to me. This way if a rider is caught out of position in the peloton a team might have to plan a move ahead to get him in position for a sprint, breakaway etc. or have someone in a better position make the move. I haven't implemented this for the Team Time Trials as I think of the riders as constantly rotating and therefore swapping places is ok.

2. Riders in a group do announce their breakaway attempt in order of position in the race front to back.

3. Riders attempting a breakaway from a group don't all start counting their movement from the first rider in the group. Their movement starts from their own position plus a slipstream up to 2 spaces. The furthest space forward they may start their breakaway from is the first rider. Again , I'm trying to emphasize positioning in the peloton here. I've also toyed with just a +1 maximum slipstream but for now the +2 seems to work well.

What I had found in our first few races was that if one rider was announced as breaking away, the other teams would simply copy them with the exact same rider and speed counter. So every breakaway ended up involving 3 identical riders breaking away from the same space. After I introduced this rule I found we had more variety in player strategies and some more interesting and realistic races. Now we often see breakaways with a mix of riders due to positioning when the break happens. Teams still
may take a gamble with a rider out of position and try to breakaway at a slight disadvantage or they might wait a turn to see if they can better their position and try to bridge the gap then. Or just simply hold tight and hope the peloton can reel in the breakaway.

I've never really fully been content with the fatigue rules I've come across in cycling games. It seems sort of counter intuitive that at any point u can get more energy back by spending more energy. The only thing I've fiddled with here is randomly choosing counters back and possibly rounding down instead of up. . The random choosing of counters seems a little more thematic to me as we are dealing with a loss of energy. The rounding down is probably a bad idea as it might strip down the personalities of the riders too much

Finally , I do have some questions when it comes to gaps. I know that groups are determined at the start of the turn. What happens when a group catches up to one or more riders from a group that was in front ? Are the riders from the first group completely ignored while determining the gaps of the active group even if they are now between some of the riders of the active group ? Just treat them as invisible until the next turn and the new groups are determined ? And just to be doubly sure, after the active group moves ,they only close gaps amongst themselves and cannot close say a 1 space gap to a group in front of them ?

Thanks for reading !

I look forward to any comments or ideas
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Lajos
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Thanks for trying the game, and thanks for the compliments, comments, and questions.

manutebol wrote:
1. In a group , teammates can swap places with other teammates only up to 2 spaces forward or backward per positioning phase.

I like this suggestion, but it adds a complication, so it shouldn't be in the basic rules, I think. I'll have to try it out, but I'm inclined to add this as an optional rule. Thanks.

manutebol wrote:
2. Riders in a group do announce their breakaway attempt in order of position in the race front to back.

I don't think this is necessary, and I kind of like the psychological warfare involved in seeing who is going to announce first (if at all). Besides, in a real race, if the guy in front of you doesn't break away, that doesn't mean he can't follow you if you break away.

manutebol wrote:
3. Riders attempting a breakaway from a group don't all start counting their movement from the first rider in the group. Their movement starts from their own position plus a slipstream up to 2 spaces.

This is an interesting idea, but like your first suggestion, it would add a further complication. It may be another good optional rule. Thanks.

manutebol wrote:
What I had found in our first few races was that if one rider was announced as breaking away, the other teams would simply copy them with the exact same rider and speed counter.

I think played very few games in which everyone had identically composed teams, but in case of identical teams this may occur indeed, and your suggestions 1 and 3 would be good ways to prevent that.

manutebol wrote:
The random choosing of counters seems a little more thematic to me as we are dealing with a loss of energy.

It would take away a strategic choice, so I'm not sure whether this is really a good idea. (On the other hand, it may be the case that this choice is not a real choice anyway, because it is always obvious which counters to choose.)

manutebol wrote:
Finally , I do have some questions when it comes to gaps. I know that groups are determined at the start of the turn. What happens when a group catches up to one or more riders from a group that was in front ? Are the riders from the first group completely ignored while determining the gaps of the active group even if they are now between some of the riders of the active group ? Just treat them as invisible until the next turn and the new groups are determined ? And just to be doubly sure, after the active group moves ,they only close gaps amongst themselves and cannot close say a 1 space gap to a group in front of them ?

Members of other groups should be ignored indeed (except that there cannot be two riders on the same space, of course). So the answer to all of your questions (except the first) is "yes". (It may be helpful to put riders of the first group on their sides in such a case, although in my experience this kind of situation rarely leads to serious confusion.)

Thanks again.


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Shawn Murphy
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Thanks so much for the reply and the geek gold ! I was hoping to get in a little more play testing before I replied again but I haven't had the time to do so. I should have added that your game is enjoyable as is and is a great way to play a quick stage race. My changes were purely for a personal preference to add a little strategy within the peloton but which may slow the pace of the game a bit.

For the record, all games played were with 3 identical teams though instead of using just 4 riders per team we used the 5 riders that are recommended in the rules for a 2 player game(we like having more riders). Also, the track was 3 lanes wide. Races were usually just 3 stages with small variations on the tracks listed in the basic rules.

Yes, rules 1 and 3 worked well to combat the "copycat" problem the group was encountering. The 2 space limit for both rules was just determined by mimicking your 2 space gap rule. I've tinkered a little bit with a 1 space slipstream on a breakaway or only allowing a breakaway from the front half of the peloton, but so far the 2 space rule seems to work the best. Riders positioned well at the front of a group are still treated the same but riders a little bit further down the group have a little ground to makeup when breaking away. It also seems to enhance the importance of teammates as they can be used to better the position of a rider that u want to breakaway or sprint the next turn.

There are 2 reasons I like rule 2. First, since there are no rules in place to punish/fatigue a rider riding in front of a group, this is a simple disadvantage to administer and may make a rider think twice before assuming the lead of a group. And again it can enhance the importance of having a teammate nearby to assume that role. Secondly , there's a little bit of psychological warfare involved in having to decide whether to breakaway/push the pace , not knowing if the rider(s) behind u will try something as well. It can also mimick races in real life where a rider or riders successfully catch a group off guard leaving them to scramble to catch them(in this case, the next turn). While I appreciate the psychological warfare involved with the original rules I also found it frustrating at times as someone would wait until the last moment as the dice were about to be rolled to announce their breakaway.

Regarding the fatigue/ energy management , I feel like it should be an important part of any cycling game and your rules are fair and simple. Personally , I don't like the accounting/paperwork involved in games like Leader 1. While it may make sense , it takes away a little enjoyment of the game for me. Oddly , a much simpler game like Flamme Rouge actually has a more enjoyable fatigue system that works quite well without all the math homework. And towards the end of the race one can really face fatigue/energy questions.

The reason I like to randomly choose the fatigue markers one gets back is simple. In the game or a race a rider may know how much extra energy he has(though he doesn't know how effectively it will help him depending upon the rolls) but as he spends it he may not know how it will affect him the next day. Thus , I feel more interesting decisions are to be had in choosing what energy to spend(not knowing if you'll get it back the next day) than choosing what energy to get back. Fatigue isn't something one should be able to control 100 percent and I like how this slightly reflects that. I'm still not completely satisfied with it but I feel it's a step towards what I'm looking for.

Finally, have you played any grand tours with Road Cycle Tour ? I'd like to attempt that endeavor at some point in the future over 3-5 game sessions.

Thanks again for all your work !
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Lajos
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Thanks again for your comments. I may add (some of) your suggestions to the rules as optional rules when I have time.

manutebol wrote:
Finally, have you played any grand tours with Road Cycle Tour?

Yes. A couple of Tour-de-Frances and some others. But only with two players and it's a long time ago already. Most ambitious was one Tour de France were we played the stage of that day in the evening with two teams each on a spatial scale of one tile per 10km. Playing each stage took about as long as the real stage.
Others have done similar things solo, by the way. (Playing several teams at once.)
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Shawn Murphy
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I'm envious that you got to play some grand tours as I'm not sure I'll be able to pull that off anytime soon.
One thing I'd like to implement in a cycling game but I'm not sure how to do it yet, is to find a way to represent all the other teams that are typically involved in a race. I'm not sure it's even possible to do so without cluttering a board with 100 + cyclists. I've seen rules for ai/robot teams in other games but only to represent a team or two. But that talk can be for anther day. Thanks as always for your replies !
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I have added your suggestions as "variant rules" to the rule book (version 3.7; now available in the files section). (However, I have found a few other minor errors and problems in the advanced rules, so I'll probably upload version 3.8 in the very near future.)
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Shawn Murphy
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I'm happy that you thought my variant suggestions were worthy enough to be included in the latest rules. I hope some players find joy in trying them.

Thanks !!
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