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Subject: game management advice? rss

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Pasta Batman
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Hi,
I'm just curious about how folks handle certain aspects of the game. Until recently, I had only played 2-player, and a few things arose out my first trio of games with four players.

1. How do you handle chip & card distribution? We just let everyone handle their own bookkeeping, grabbing cards and chips for themselves. Makes for a great pace, but also makes it unlikely to catch each others mistakes.

2. Do you play the phases in lockstep together, and if so, do you somehow signal that you are ready for the next phase? We played in lockstep, but had to keep asking 'is everyone done?'. A tad annoying, particularly because it was a noisy environment, and everyone was heads-down, studying their tableau and hand.

3. Do you do anything to keep track of which consume powers you have used? With a messy, nearly full tableau, I once lost track of whether or not I had yet used a consume power.

Thanks,
Pasta
 
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Waffles? Arooo!
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1. Once everyone's played 4 or 5 games, we tend to just let them all take their own cards and chips. If there's someone who's still relatively new, we usually count the cards out individually so that person can understand who's getting what, and why.

2. We don't have an easy way round this either. Quite often someone starts moving onto the next phase when other people are still considering the current phase. We just have people say "I'm done" when they're ready to move on, but it doesn't really solve the problem.

3. If you're having trouble keeping track of your consume powers, I suggest rearranging your tableau so the powers are all on one row or something like that, and if you use the power, just "tap" or turn the card slightly to show it's been used.

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Snooze Fest
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We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
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pastabatman wrote:
1. How do you handle chip & card distribution? We just let everyone handle their own bookkeeping, grabbing cards and chips for themselves. Makes for a great pace, but also makes it unlikely to catch each others mistakes.

Trust. Hopefully you've got a group that's got it! My preference is to let people do their own thing (in this game as well as any others with a bank or central supply or something).

pastabatman wrote:
2. Do you play the phases in lockstep together, and if so, do you somehow signal that you are ready for the next phase? We played in lockstep, but had to keep asking 'is everyone done?'. A tad annoying, particularly because it was a noisy environment, and everyone was heads-down, studying their tableau and hand.

Develop/Settle: everyone shows a card face down, and flips together. Then, pay for it simultaneously. If you're not taking the action, can put an illegal card face-down (e.g., planet for Development phase, of just a role card if you don't want to broadcast your hand), or just put your cards down or something.

pastabatman wrote:
3. Do you do anything to keep track of which consume powers you have used? With a messy, nearly full tableau, I once lost track of whether or not I had yet used a consume power.

Go from left to right, or some other pattern where you can know that a planet has used all its consume powers.
 
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B C Z
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We usually have a dealer (or caller) who calls the phases and deals the cards.

We override the timing mechanism by saying that the person to the dealer's left is the 'first to resolve'.

Admittedly, there's usually someone new at the table, so we try to slow it down enough for them to watch and learn.
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B C Z
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Actually, addittional information.

Our caller has a form of patter, almost a script.

First they call for role selection. Most of the players get into a routine where they place their role in front of them face down. If the caller notices someone's missing a role, then they prompt for it. Usually not necessary after the first turn or two. Once the role you selected has been called, you recall the role card back to your hand.

"Everybody flip"

Roles are flipped and pushed to the center of the table. Everyone announces their action selection so everyone knows what's going to happen thst turn, since it may affect gameplay. Once everyone's actions are known, the Caller starts running the phases that are active.

If there are any EXPLORE actions, starting to the dealer's left, everyone announces their draw/keep totals. "Draw 4 keep 2" or "Draw 3 keep 1"... Cards are dealt, selections are made, discards are discarded. If anyone's making decisions after the dealer discards, then we wait until they do.

If there is a DEVELOP action, then the Caller announces "Choose Developments". Developments are placed face down. Payments are prepared in the hand. Developments are then revealed in turn and payments made.

If there is a SETTLE action, then same as with developments, new worlds are placed face down and payments prepared in hand. Reveal worlds, pay for them if needed.

If there are any CONSUME actions, then we run them. Here's where we break the rules a little bit, and I'm not really convinced it changes gameplay one little bit. We generally do all the trades FIRST, and then do the consumes starting at the dealer's left. Once the trades are made, then the consumes are run. Players show what they're doing, or if it's been static or hasn't changed since the last time, they just announce "consumed 3 goods, got 4 VP and a card in hand" (for example). This also gives a bit more time for the people with the Deficit Spending power (allowing discards for VP) to scan their cards and pick their discards.

We've also been known to just run clockwise from the dealer and if the player traded, they do that first and then consume. As said, it doesn't seem to affect gameplay, and provided we're somewhat consistant about it, no-one seems to care much.

Finally PRODUCTION is run. The Dealer hands each player the number of goods they need, and then any 'cards in hand' they are due. Some dealers do this per planet, others do it as a bunch. If we get someone with a lot of production, it's common to just announce "I need 4 goods". Out of politeness we tend to announce how many windfalls got produced on, and how (playing Produce, other cards, etc).

At the end of production, most of the next role selection cards are already face down, players know what they want to do... Any not there are called for and when the roles are all picked it starts over.

Moderation of the game, for us, seems to make it a lot more enjoyable. Everyone is keenly aware of what others are doing. When you hear "Draw 6 keep 3" and that person didn't pick explore, you perk those ears up a bit and realize that calling Explore will help someone else, probably more than it helps you. On a Produce, if they say "I get 3 cards as goods and 3 in hand", you are keenly aware that Produce is helping that player. When someone announces "I trade this blue good for 8 cards." then you know that they've set up a trade engine.

When I play with my wife, we dispense with moderation - we both know what we're doing and there's only two of us... Games go by lightning fast.

Edits: Added in announcement of action selection by all players at beginning of turn, had previously implied that this information wasn't readily available
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Jimmer Sivertsen
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1 & 3 - chip/card distribution is usually handled by the player...keeping track of consumes gets easier once you're used to it. (I usually state the number of cards and VP out loud, before I take them...slightly more cautious about saying an incorrect statement, as well as letting the players know what I'm doing - I'm not just taking 6 VP for no reason.)

2 - The groups I normally play with are more casual - once we think a phase is done, we go onto the next. Occasionally, the turn ends too quickly that way. (We also were short-cutting on the game start, by not putting the remaining start worlds in the deck.)

That said, at Randycon this weekend, I played in lockstep. Not being local, I didn't know everyone's playing styles, and I wanted to see the strategic side of lockstep.

Lockstep is definitely stronger in terms of competitive play - you/your opponent's don't get to essentially 'peek' at the direction other players are going. (If you see someone settling the Novelty-6 development, you might suddenly decide that investing in Consumer Markets in that same phase for the long-term might be less feasible.)
 
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Frank Hamrick
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Jimmer - Seems to me it's far more strategic to know what your opponents are doing - that will affect many of your decisions. I saw my opponent today getting 6 VPs a turn (after only the 3rd turn!) and tried to counter by 1) building FAST, and 2) getting a production/consume engine as quickly as possible to produce 8 VPs per turn. (I lost, but at least saw what he had going and cut my losses.)

BT Carpenter - I want to know ALL the actions to be taken in a turn BEFORE taking the first. For example, that might affect which cards I keep if I explore, or which World I settle before someone consumes, etc.

Seems that should be an important part of game-play, otherwise, it really is little more than multi-player solitaire.


 
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B C Z
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Frank Hamrick wrote:
BT Carpenter - I want to know ALL the actions to be taken in a turn BEFORE taking the first. For example, that might affect which cards I keep if I explore, or which World I settle before someone consumes, etc.

Seems that should be an important part of game-play, otherwise, it really is little more than multi-player solitaire.


Sorry, yes... we do announce which phases will occur when we flip -- usually the players announce their own selection as they flip over their choice. It's also information that's available for perusal by anyone, the action cards are in the center of the table once flipped, and just recalled back to the respective player's action deck as they occur.

Knowing what's happening later is very critical, I concur.

In the patter, the dealer/caller is just verifying the phases that were revealed. The point is that one person is moderating the action so that everyone can see/hear what is happening.

As to the MP-Solitaire concept -- no-one has ever said that it felt that way when the game is moderated as I describe. New players find it very engaging and understanding what others have played helps them accelerate their own learning curve. The only thing you can't really teach when you play is what cards you were willing to throw away in order to play the cards that you do play. Given that I have seen every card played at least once, including Gambling World and Pilgrimage World, no card is a bad card - it's just that there are some diamonds in the rough that truly shine.


I'm going to edit my post to add that in now, since it is part of what we do.
 
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Pasta Batman
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Thanks for all the advice! Despite slowing the game down a lot from the free-for-all we were playing, I think having a moderator (who calls phases, deals cards, distributes chips) is probably essential to keeping the game from devolving into multiplayer solitaire. That will give everyone the opportunity to observe each players actions & progress at every phase. It will be a burden for the moderator, but there usually seems to be someone who likes that kind of role. I will miss the furious pace though.

edit: grammer
 
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Sometimes furious pace is good - but I'd say that's better for experienced players.

And yeah, someone's always willing to moderate. At the last con I went to, I was getting hoarse from teaching the game to strangers, and asked one person who'd played 2-3 times if he could be the moderator so I could rest my voice after the explination.

He said after that it really helped him complete his understanding of the game, and that he was going to pick it up based on the games we'd played.

See, Do, Teach.
 
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