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Subject: Nearly impossible to stop someone 1 point away from winning? rss

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Justin Rector
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Just played my first game of this, enjoyed it, but can’t help but feel the scoring lead to an odd end game situation.

I was at 20 points and my opponent was at 11. The only option for making someone take 0 points is making them bust with 10-13. That’s a challenge sure, but what makes that nearly impossible to do is the treasures. If you are trying to lose tricks, i dont know how you manage to also not let someone take a single treasure.

Sure, i got to 20 points so I deserved to win, and he was far behind so had he been closer he could have tried to outscore me. But I just wasnt crazy about the feeling that our final round was mostly pointless cause there was no realistic way for him to stop me. I feel if 4 tricks also gave 0 points it would be better, as you could aim to take exactly 9 (and the treasures) to stop somebody.
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J.M. Diller
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With a lead like that maybe it would have just been best to concede the game at that point?

When my brother and I play 2 player "dueling" games, we often do that when it's clear that continued play is pointless.
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Jay M
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You don't have to finish it out -- call it.

Ideally he's close enough to pass your score (as you say). When that is not possible all hope is truly lost.
 
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JoeAubrey
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I feel you, and I agree with everyone else, the solution is probably for the loser to concede the game.

But I've been thinking about this. Fox in the Forest is one of my favorites, but that last round can sometimes be underwhelming: forcing one player to aim for a specific amount of tricks instead of experiencing that delicate push-and-pull that defines the early game. And I dislike just conceding when there's any chance at all of coming back.

Perhaps there are some rules additions that could get rid of this last-round-condundrum?

Wild brainstorming... if someone is behind enough, or perhaps if both players are near 21 and choose to add tension in the last round:
-Add a "blind nil" bid possibility?
-Double (triple?) the treasure(7 card) points?
-Add powers to one (or more) of the even numbered cards, chosen by one or both players after seeing their hand?

Anything to change the equation without actually giving any one player a definite edge might make the last round more interesting.
 
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Joshua Buergel
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One of the things that I tried at some point during development was a requirement that, in order to be eligible to win, you had to score more points than your opponent in the most recent hand. So, the winning condition was a) win a hand and b) be over the threshold. It can make the game run longer, but it also can ensure that no matter how far behind you are, if you can keep winning hands, you can stay in it.
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Ulrich Roth
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jbuergel wrote:
One of the things that I tried at some point during development was a requirement that, in order to be eligible to win, you had to score more points than your opponent in the most recent hand. So, the winning condition was a) win a hand and b) be over the threshold. It can make the game run longer, but it also can ensure that no matter how far behind you are, if you can keep winning hands, you can stay in it.

This idea is so good that it deserves to be included in the official game rules (as a variant), should there ever be an update. thumbsup
 
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Jay M
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Another way to accomplish the same thing is to score only "net points," in the same way as Crokinole and Cornhole. You would need to lower the point total much lower, to perhaps 11.

So a 6-3 win in a hand is only 3 points towards the winning total, etc.

That way, the behind person can always win the game by continuing to win hands.

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Joshua Buergel
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Personally, I really like net score scoring, but from my experience with testing it with players, there are a lot of folks that really dislike it. People seem to have a strong preference for at least the illusion of movement in scores, and so these types of scoring systems really bother them. That might not be a good enough reason to dump it, but it is a consideration, certainly for a game where we're trying to get a pretty broad appeal.

But, at any rate, I'll discuss this stuff with my publisher and see what he thinks as well.
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Ethan Furman
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I like the game the way it is now, but would love to have those two scoring methods* as official variants:

* winning requires winning the final hand as well
* scoring is net
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Quinn Swanger
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I would love to have more scoring chits or a cribbage-style peg board for scoring, be it in a deluxe version or otherwise.
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Jay M
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All of the above are worth consideration -- I think this game has shown the signs of being a legitimate classic. The people I have taught it to with my set (card players) have loved it, and later asked "Did you bring Fox in the Forest?" etc. It's nearly a perfect game in terms of how a hand plays out -- the only thing that could use a little oomph is the drama to win a game.

Maybe it should be a skins game, with one point awarded for winning a hand and that's it. And somehow the 7's are tweaked to where they can possible affect the hand being a tie or a win.

All of these could be scoring variants -- net score, skins game, must win a hand to close out, etc. Without tinkering with the core card set.
 
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JoeAubrey
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I think I'll adopt the "you have to win the hand to win the game" variant. That way, someone very far ahead can't win simply by taking 1-3 treasures, and the opponent isn't limited to aiming for a very restrictive number of tricks.
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Joshua Buergel
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I think if you don't mind the uncertainty of how long the game will take, it does a nice job of preserving the incentives in scoring through the whole game.

As for all the other ideas in this thread, let's just say that Randy and I are keeping an eye on it and thinking about some of the things being brought up here.
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Kevin
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I’ve played our version of Rook for 30 years and was so excited to find this 2p trick taking game! It arrived today and I’ll be surprising my wife with it for Christmas!

In Rook a similar event occurs like you are discussing here where a team has for example 485 points and only needs to catch 15 points in the next hand to win the game with 500. Winning/taking the bid on the next hand would be foolish for that team because they only need to catch 15 points and would run the risk of getting set. By passing they basically force the other team to catch almost all the points with a perfect hand in order to stay in the game..but perfect hands are possible in Rook and I’ve seen it happen where they battle back even in this scenario.

I haven’t played The Fox In The Forest yet, but the question to me would be if a person has 20 points is it possible for the other person to catch all three 7’s as treasures. If not, then yeah the variant you are discussing that requires that you just won the last hand and have at least 21 total points in order to be declared the winner may be something to consider. If I understand the rules correctly, the person losing would have to catch all three 7’s in 3 tricks or less to keep the game going...that does sound almost impossible without being impossible laugh

UPDATE: my wife and I have now played at least 20 full games over Christmas week. This is truly an amazingly fun 2p trick-taking game, Joshua, we love it. Since I get the vibe you are open to fan suggestions, we have only two:

1. The win condition discussed above (where you must have just won the hand and have hit the threshold of 21 points) is definitely our preferred way to play. Otherwise, obtaining a strong lead with 19 or 20 points and then solely focusing on catching a couple of Treasure 7's the next hand will (and did) occur. With this new win condition, however, we had some really exciting, tense, satisfying game finishers. We also play best two out of three games to 21, but we love to sit and play cards a lot.

2. Consider printing the card number/suit on the top left corners of BOTH ends of the SPECIAL ODD NUMBERED cards (and not just on the even numbered non special cards). This would prevent a player from having to turn all the special cards "right side up" as they fan their cards out to begin play. This may sound picky (and it is) but it would actually be really nice. As a player you quickly memorize the special card abilities, so while I absolutely agree that their ability needs to be printed on the card, we suggest moving the text enough to still be able to print the number/suit at the bottom of the card as well. Experienced players could then simply pick up their cards, fan them out in their hand and play.

Amazing game, thanks for listening! I'll buy all future sets as they are reprinted over the years, no question. Happy New Year!
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Kevin
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UPDATE after a week of playing a lot...

We are now starting to back off of our love for the “must win the last hand to win the game” variant for a very important reason: it completely makes the treasures irrelevant late game. If your opponent is at 20 points, then with this variant all you care about now is winning every hand. It literally doesn’t matter if your opponent takes every treasure, so u can freely lead 5’s for example to customize your hand with no fear of losing 7’s because they no longer matter. That’s a big problem, because no card that was so powerful in the early game should be nerfed or negated simply because you are losing.

We are now trying out the written variant of one longer game to 35. The scenario of the original post is much harder to stomach when you are only playing to 21. With a longer game to 35 however, you have more hands to recover from getting behind early, and you don’t have to change a single written rule.
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JoeAubrey
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kcurtis wrote:
UPDATE after a week of playing a lot...

We are now starting to back off of our love for the “must win the last hand to win the game” variant for a very important reason: it completely makes the treasures irrelevant late game. If your opponent is at 20 points, then with this variant all you care about now is winning every hand. It literally doesn’t matter if your opponent takes every treasure, so u can freely lead 5’s for example to customize your hand with no fear of losing 7’s because they no longer matter. That’s a big problem, because no card that was so powerful in the early game should be nerfed or negated simply because you are losing.

We are now trying out the written variant of one longer game to 35. The scenario of the original post is much harder to stomach when you are only playing to 21. With a longer game to 35 however, you have more hands to recover from getting behind early, and you don’t have to change a single written rule.
The problem scenario: one person is far in the lead and only needs 1-3 points to win, while the other player is forced to aim for an unlikely amount of tricks with whatever hand they are dealt. There are two un-fun aspects of this scenario:

1. The winning player knows the "unlikely amount of tricks" the other player needs, and can easily ruin their chances. Fox in the Forest is fun specifically because neither player usually knows the other player's goal until late in the hand.
2. Depending on the point spread, the winning player could "check out" mentally and aim for one or two treasures to win the game. This also ruins the fun part of Fox in the Forest, because there's an uneven level of commitment and the deciding factor is almost completely the hand you're dealt and not how it's played.

I feel like "must win the hand to win the game," even though it changes the game's balance away from concerns about treasures, is more fun than the alternative (as explained above). You might adjust the "must win the hand to win the game" rule to only come into effect if a player is 6 or more points ahead, so close games don't get imbalanced at the end, but personally, I like the idea of the final hand of cards feeling a bit different, a bit like sudden death, forcing shifting strategies.

Also, are you counting the winner of the hand as the person who gets the most points from tricks, or the person who gets the most points from tricks plus points from treasures?

Personally, playing to 35 points isn't an option for me. I want a shorter game, and "must win the hand to win the game" still has a chance of being short (and unavoidably a chance of being longer, of course). If there was a more elegant solution to the two "unfun" points above, I'd take it.
 
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David desJardins
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You could play until someone reaches X points, *or* until someone has a lead of Y over their opponent. Allowing either winning condition can pretty much solve the problem, I think.
 
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Quinn Swanger
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I really like the game (rules and score-wise) just fine as it is. I have been on both ends of the situation described in the OP and we just chalk it up to not having played as well as we should have (rather than simply unlucky) in the hands leading up to it. We play out the final hand in the normal fashion to get over the 21-point threshold and the person behind tries to see how close they can make the final score ... and then we start another game!
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Jay M
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Hearts and Spades are the same way -- if you are getting stomped, there's not a catch up mechanism.

Trick taking games are about playing hands and scoring points, and deciding how and when a whole session is over is going to be inherently arbitrary and geared towards making the length predictable.

If you want an inevitable end, make it 21 points. If you want a comeback mechanism, make it score off of only net points, like crokinole and cornhole (bag toss).
 
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Joshua Buergel
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I've been traveling, so I haven't kept up , but I appreciate the kind thoughts and I'll try and weigh in with clearer thoughts when I'm on a computer.
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Jay M
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Me and my regular opponent for FitF tried the "net score" method today and I have to say it worked great, and felt much better. We played to 11. Your only score is the amount you exceed your opponent by. (So a 7-6 win, ignoring 7's would be 3 points to the winner).

You can always make a comeback by winning hands, because you're opponent scores 0 on a hand he loses.

It took about 5 hands to reach 11. That might be a little high. Because he was with some decisive wins in there.
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Kevin
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Race Bannon wrote:
Me and my regular opponent for FitF tried the "net score" method today and I have to say it worked great, and felt much better. We played to 11. Your only score is the amount you exceed your opponent by. (So a 7-6 win, ignoring 7's would be 3 points to the winner).

You can always make a comeback by winning hands, because you're opponent scores 0 on a hand he loses.

It took about 5 hands to reach 11. That might be a little high. Because he was with some decisive wins in there.


My concern about net points is I still feel like this nerfs or negates the importance of taking the Treasure cards. With net points I care much much less about u taking Treasures as long as I win the hand. For example in your 7-6 trick scenario using net points, the loser would have had to have taken all three Treasures to keep the winner from scoring points for that hand, rendering the treasures pretty much a worthless power...I could be wrong.

Our games to 35 using the rules as written have been working out great for us. The problem presented by the OP seems greatly lessened, and you can make a comeback if u start slowly as it requires more hands to win.

This may all come down to preference, but I love the discussion Do the treasures still feel as important using net points?
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Martin G
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That doesn't make sense - the treasures are still worth a point each just as they were before.
 
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Kevin
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qwertymartin wrote:
That doesn't make sense - the treasures are still worth a point each just as they were before.


I understand what u are saying, but in net points, either you are getting points or I am. Someone is getting zero. As long as I get the most points for the hand nothing else really matters, including the treasures you took. If I took more points you are getting zero to your total score regardless. Yes you reduce the amount of points I add to my total score by taking treasures, but you still get zero points added to your total score, so there’s no way you can win as long as I keep winning hands, regardless of the amount of treasures you take. With the rules as written it’s not that way at all.

I think this mindset goes back to what Joshua was saying about some players simply don’t like the net way of scoring. It’s an all or nothing thing and for some players that’s just kinda weird, especially when by rule the treasures immediately add a point to your total score, making them very powerful. Not so with net scoring, to me.
 
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Martin G
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Reducing the total points you add to your score is equivalent to gaining points myself. And with the original scoring, there is also no way you can win if your opponent gets more points than you every hand
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