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London (Second Edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: Application of Ben-Luca Variant to 2nd Edition rss

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Kurt FromVirginia
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As a fan of the 1ed London - and with most of my plays using the 2 player Ben-Luca variant, I'm curious whether this variant could (should?) be applied to the 2ed.

Link to Ben-Luca variant from 1ed:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/621605/ben-luca-2-player-va...


What I enjoy about the Ben-Luca variant is the mechanism to reduce the availability of boroughs and cards at random times throughout the game. It's a great way to introduce a dummy player while still giving some benefit to the player that forces the discard action.

I'd suggest for the 2ed the Ben-Luca variant would work as follows:

Rules:

1) • No face up identical cards are allowed in a single player's city display. Building a card, flipping it, then building the same card again later is allowed.

2) • When a player expends a card forcing a clearing of a row in the card display, that player removes one of the face up borough cards of their choice. The appropriate number of cards based on that borough are drawn from the deck and immediately discarded. All other particulars of the borough card (i.e. VPs, special actions, poverty points etc.) are ignored.

• If all the boroughs are occupied, draw and discard 4 cards from the deck each time the card display is cleared.


FAQ:

Q: Are the cards drawn and discarded known to the players?
A: Play it however your group wishes. Draw and reveal them to all, or just place them as a group on the discard pile.

Q: What's an identical card?
A: An identical card has the exact same name and function. Thus, having 'Bridge' and 'Tower Bridge' face up in your display is legal since the names are different.


Eager to hear how the game plays as 2p with and without the Ben-Luca variant.




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Jeremy Kidder
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It absolutely should. My first two 2-player games I did not use it and they just dragged on and on. Since then we have only used this variant when playing two player and it is much better.
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el porkoz
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definitely agree- i love this game (first edition) and the ben-luca variant is totally necessary for a 2-player game.

i haven't gotten my hands on the 2nd edition yet, but i'll definitely try out your suggestions when i do!
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Kurt FromVirginia
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JKidder wrote:
It absolutely should. My first two 2-player games I did not use it and they just dragged on and on. Since then we have only used this variant when playing two player and it is much better.

To be clear - you're using the Ben Luca variant for the 2nd Edition?
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Torke Van Schnee
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So, for a better understanding, you must draw and discard to the board display or retire this card from de game?. Thanks.
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Kurt FromVirginia
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Halowii wrote:
So, for a better understanding, you must draw and discard to the board display or retire this card from de game?. Thanks.

I'll give an extreme example to highlight how this variant would work for 2ed:

Let's assume my turn begins and I start with nine City cards in my hand (the limit) and the Development Board has three cards each in the top and bottom row.

Furthermore the following Boroughs are available for acquisition - Hampstead (gives 2 City cards), Hackney (5 cards), Greenwich (3) cards.

I take a City card to my hand to begin the round - bringing me to 10 - and then choose to Buy Land - and I select Hackney. I add 5 more City cards bringing to total 15 cards in my hand (Hackney also gave me 2 VP, a reduction of 1 Poverty Point and a new benefit).

The official rules don't contemplate a scenario where multiple Boroughs could be bought, but a strict reading of the rules suggest you immediately replace the purchased Borough card. Continuing with the example, Deptford (gives 3 City cards)is drawn.

It's the end of my turn and I'm holding 15 City cards - 6 more than the hand limit. As I go to discard my first of six City cards, since the Development Board is completely filled I take the three City cards in the bottom row and remove them from the game (and also push the three cards from the top row to the now open bottom row). This is the trigger in the Ben-Luca variant to remove one of the three available Borough cards from the game. I choose to remove Hampstead - the Borough card is removed from the game as well as the top 2 City cards from the draw deck are also removed from the game NOT TO THE DEVELOPMENT BOARD! (reminder - Hampstead provides 2 cards when acquired). I've always played where the removed City cards are kept face down - you may prefer these to be revealed before removed.

So at this point the top row of the Development board is empty, there are only two Borough cards available for purchase and I still have 15 cards in my hand. I draw a new Borough card - let's assume Wandsworth (gives 2 cards) - and discard from my hand to the top row of the Development board three cards. I now have 12 cards in my hand, and still needing to discard three cards I repeat the process of a) removing the bottom row of the Development board, b)slide down the three cards from the top row to the bottom row, c) remove from the game a Borough card (say, Greenwich) and the related number of City cards from the top of the deck (in this case 3), d) replace the Borough card and e) continue discarding down to the hand limit of nine.



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Kurt FromVirginia
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Gave this a go last night with the Ben Luca variant.

Observations:

1) It was the first time playing the 2ed for my friend and I. FWIW, we've played the 1ed with Ben Luca variant upwards of 15 times through the years.

2) 2ed played much quicker than 1ed. I think we clocked in at an hour while 1ed typically runs 90 mins (we take our time when playing).

3) When we play 1ed, we are focused on buying land as much as possible. Typically this means 1/3 of the boroughs are owned by me, 1/3 by my friend, and 1/3 owned by the "third player" as a result of filling up the development board. In the 2ed game we played last night, closer to 40% of the boroughs were owned by the third player. I don't know if this is going to hold up to be the case over time - we certainly didn't have the card familiarity as we do for 1ed.

4) The two big rule nuances - a) borough cards DO NOT reduce poverty when running your city and b) loan cards DO increase poverty make for an interesting twist of the 1ed rules.

5) At game end, we wondered out loud if you could be successful in the game by taking a strategy of NOT buying boroughs. We think not - but maybe it's worth a play some time.

In the end - happy owner of both 1ed and 2ed London.
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Bob D
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I know nothing of the first edition but can say my wife and I play 2-player London (second edition), no variants, in 60 minutes. Neither of us finds it too long or lacking anything. Granted, I'm certainly open to improvements, especially given Martin Wallace's known indifference to 2-player, but I'd say the second edition is solid right out of the box.
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Carla
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bobbyrayiam wrote:
I know nothing of the first edition but can say my wife and I play 2-player London (second edition), no variants, in 60 minutes. Neither of us finds it too long or lacking anything. Granted, I'm certainly open to improvements, especially given Martin Wallace's known indifference to 2-player, but I'd say the second edition is solid right out of the box.

I've never played 1ed either, but hubster and I have played 2-player 2ed several times now and our games come in at around 60 minutes. So I think it plays perfectly well with two out of the box. We're going to try the variant on our next play and see if it feels right or wrong for us.
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Alliantie AJ
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I played the game yesterday for the first time, 2 player game, no variant.

It seems to take long to run thrue the entire card deck. Since most times you only take 1 card per player per turn and you end up spending 2 cards mostly. Did we do something wrong?

And a lot we picked our card at the beginning of the turn from the display and played immediately to pay the card you want to build. So practically the card just stayed at the display .. ?

Anyways, I so really want to like this game, we have to give it another try with a variant and with 3 players.
 
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Bob D
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That doesn't sound optimal but I'm also just guessing. True, you only grab one card per turn -- typically -- but are you not buying boroughs (which gives you more cards, potentially a lot more)? Are you only developing your city a few cards at a time? You should be burning through your hand of cards relatively quickly and the only way to replenish is to either buy boroughs or grab 3 more cards (although Westminster will also allow you to grab 0,1, or 2 cards every turn if you have the borough). Not to mention, there are also cards that let you discard cards to get prestige and/or reduce poverty. If you're clearing your hand out, you'll need to replenish your deck more than 1 card at a time.

The thing is, the game will move as quickly as the players do. If you feel you are out in front, you should be pushing through that deck quickly. If every player is grabbing from the display, things will take longer.

My longest 2-player game was 70 minutes and we were hitting the display often and worked slowly through the deck. But that's still all the time it took.
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Alliantie AJ
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bobbyrayiam wrote:
That doesn't sound optimal but I'm also just guessing. True, you only grab one card per turn -- typically -- but are you not buying boroughs (which gives you more cards, potentially a lot more)? Are you only developing your city a few cards at a time? You should be burning through your hand of cards relatively quickly and the only way to replenish is to either buy boroughs or grab 3 more cards (although Westminster will also allow you to grab 0,1, or 2 cards every turn if you have the borough). Not to mention, there are also cards that let you discard cards to get prestige and/or reduce poverty. If you're clearing your hand out, you'll need to replenish your deck more than 1 card at a time.

The thing is, the game will move as quickly as the players do. If you feel you are out in front, you should be pushing through that deck quickly. If every player is grabbing from the display, things will take longer.

My longest 2-player game was 70 minutes and we were hitting the display often and worked slowly through the deck. But that's still all the time it took.


Ok, pretty stupid but by reading your reaction I realize that you can build as many cards as you want during your turn ... we only did one at the time ... that will make a huge difference ...

Thx!
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Jason Long
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I just played my first game ever of London (2nd edition). It was a 2p learning game, and we only had a 75-minute window in which to play. Needless to say, we didn't finish*. We, in fact, got through only half of the city cards. Not knowing anything about this variant, we both decided that we wished there were rules for 2p that would help cull the city deck and speed the game up a bit. I am eager to give the variant a try next time.

*Granted, because this was a learning game, we had to read every card, and a few times we had to discuss exactly how certain cards worked. The WREN card, for instance, stopped the game for a bit, as we discussed whether we had to pay for each card with a matching color card, or if we only had to pay the "additional" costs (as indicated on the card). I'm sure we could play the game in around an hour, once we know it better.
 
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Tod Andrew
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Could the Ben-Luca variant be applied to a 3 player game, and if so, how best to implement it? What about a 4p game?



Thanks.
 
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Kurt FromVirginia
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tod_13 wrote:
Could the Ben-Luca variant be applied to a 3 player game, and if so, how best to implement it? What about a 4p game?

Mechanically, there's no reason why it couldn't be added to a 3p game, but I'd suggest having the real life 4p suffices for doing what the variant provides.

Keep in mind the original version of London was designed to be a 3p or 4p game - the B-L variant helped a 2p game by a) thinning out the deck and b) limiting the number of cities a player could claim. Applying the B-L variant to a 3p game perhaps simulates the 4p game well, but adding the variant to a 4p game pushes the player count outside of the designer's ranges (and if you are playing the original version of London, you would need an extra set of player tokens).




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Tod Andrew
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Thanks Kurt.
 
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Tod Andrew
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Apologies, another question.

For a 3p game, what changes would be made to the variant, if any?
Thanks
 
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Kurt FromVirginia
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tod_13 wrote:
Apologies, another question.

For a 3p game, what changes would be made to the variant, if any?
Thanks

I don't think you would make any changes. What works well with the B-L variant with 2p is that both players typically get an equal number of opportunities to make choices for which cities and cards to discard.

Keep in mind the number of available spaces on the card display would increase as you add players. As long as the 3 players are getting equal chances to discard cities and cards then the B-L variant would do what it's supposed to do.

With all that said, I don't know if you NEED to use the B-L variant if you have 3p.
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Tod Andrew
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khesser wrote:
tod_13 wrote:
Apologies, another question.

For a 3p game, what changes would be made to the variant, if any?
Thanks

I don't think you would make any changes. What works well with the B-L variant with 2p is that both players typically get an equal number of opportunities to make choices for which cities and cards to discard.

Keep in mind the number of available spaces on the card display would increase as you add players. As long as the 3 players are getting equal chances to discard cities and cards then the B-L variant would do what it's supposed to do.

With all that said, I don't know if you NEED to use the B-L variant if you have 3p.

Thanks Kurt.

The third point of the variant says
If all the boroughs are occupied, draw and discard 4 cards from the deck each time the card display is cleared.

I assume this means when there are no boroughs left?

My initial thought was that if we discard 4 cards with 2p, we might discard fewer with 3p.

Kind regards.

 
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Kurt FromVirginia
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tod_13 wrote:
khesser wrote:
tod_13 wrote:
Apologies, another question.

For a 3p game, what changes would be made to the variant, if any?
Thanks

I don't think you would make any changes. What works well with the B-L variant with 2p is that both players typically get an equal number of opportunities to make choices for which cities and cards to discard.

Keep in mind the number of available spaces on the card display would increase as you add players. As long as the 3 players are getting equal chances to discard cities and cards then the B-L variant would do what it's supposed to do.

With all that said, I don't know if you NEED to use the B-L variant if you have 3p.

Thanks Kurt.

The third point of the variant says
If all the boroughs are occupied, draw and discard 4 cards from the deck each time the card display is cleared.

I assume this means when there are no boroughs left?

My initial thought was that if we discard 4 cards with 2p, we might discard fewer with 3p.

Kind regards.


Let's go back to the original version of London (which I'm more familiar with)...

When you play with just two folks (and no B-L variant), there are two problems. First problem is there are too many cities for just two players, such that each can easily manage their poverty points towards the end of the game. Second problem is the full set of cards are available to both players - whereas with 3p and 4p it's very likely you won't be able to get that one particular building your are hoping for.

The B-L variant helps with these two problems in that it takes roughly a third of the cities and a good chunk of the cards out of the deck over the course of the game. So why not just block off a third of the map and take out 30 or so cards from the deck at the start of the game? Certainly using the B-L variant offers up some interesting decision making over the course of the game that you otherwise wouldn't get to angst over if you just started off the game with a smaller board (or in the case of London Ed. 2 - fewer building cards) and fewer cards.

So back to your question. If you want to create a 4p experience by using three live players and adding the B-L variant, I'd argue to keep the same rules for the B-L variant as you would if you were trying to create a 3p experience with 2 players. Think about how little scaling adjustments are in place in the rule book for 3p v. 4p - - that's why I'd keep things constant.

Enough talk - give it a shot and let me know how it works!! If you need to tweak the rules I think you could lay claim to your own variant....




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Tod Andrew
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Fantastic. Thanks Kurt.
 
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David Yasinski

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Have playing the ben-luca variant with the 2nd edition. Works great except with the following issue arising. If there are say 2-3 cards left in the stack towards the end of the game. When you are building your city and discarding cards to the board requiring the clearing of the bottom row thus the discarding of a borrow which them requires you to say discard 3 cards(because the borrow has a draw 3 action) thus now ending the game on the next players turn and now not having the ability to run your city. Has anyone else ran into this.
I feel that the game was not made to end when you are in the middle of building your city. If you have not taken the last card on your initial draw then I feel the game was made to allow you to decide if you want to end the game by buying a borrow or by drawing more cards but not by building your city? Thoughts?

 
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