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Subject: Question about the premium levels for declaring and revealing. rss

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Darren M
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I have only recently discovered this great 3 player trick taking game and I have to say I really like it. It's simple yet "thinky" enough to have some real strategic meat in it to overcome the luck of the draw aspect which inherently exists in so many traditional card games.

One question (or thought really) I have is about the premium bonuses when you hit your bidding targets for declaring and revealing. Do others feel they are too big and somewhat skew the game? Should they be slightly less and not so game altering. If you happen to hit a declare and reveal bonus and are the only one to make your bid in a hand... you potentially jump to a huge 90 point lead besides the points you score for the actual tricks won.

This appears to be one of the only concerns about the gameplay from the comments I've read on the game. I'm still not experienced enough to know if this is a legitimate concern or not but it certainly does feel somewhat skewed when bonuses of 90 points suddenly vault players into the lead based on a "perfectly" dealt hand... of course you still need to play it well.

I realize there will always be luck in card games and in the end the law of averages even things out... if not in one game then at least over a series of sessions but I'm just wondering if these premium bid values are slightly "out of whack" with the values for simply taking tricks and hitting your bid targets normally.

Any thoughts on what might be better premium bonuses? I realize the game is called Ninety-Nine because the maximum score is 99 points (Declare + Reveal + 9 tricks won + only player hitting your bid target).

Would the game be slightly more balanced being called 69 and having the premium bonuses halved?

Hopefully some experienced players can chime in with their opinions.
 
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Craig Duncan
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I have played less than 10 hands of this, so I am no expert, but I have the same sense that the bonuses are too large for the premium bids. I like the idea of halving them.

One other comment about the premium bids: Another element of luck associated with these is whether you are seated near the dealer or not. You might have the best reveal hand ever, but another person is nearer the dealer's left and opts for the premium bid that hand, leaving you unable to nab it. You're simply out of luck. Like the original poster said, luck has a place in card games, but it can be too much. It'd be nice to cut down on this sort of luck in 99.

One possible way of evening this sort of luck out is reducing the point values of the bonuses even further, and then letting anyone who wants to declare or reveal do so, so that more than one player can try for a premium bid on a given hand. I'm not sure how that would work, but it might be worth a try. As an added good effect, it would eliminate the annoying query that is necessary before play of a hand begins, namely, going one by one from the dealer's left ("Are you revealing? Are YOU revealing? Are you declaring? Are YOU declaring?" And so on).

Yet another variant possibility along these lines is to give everyone a budget of 1 declare and 1 reveal per game. That could make for an interesting choice on occasion (do you take your premium bid option now or save it for later?). And as in the above variant, no one can complain about being denied a premium bid option simply on account of being seated in an unluckly position vis-a-vis the dealer. Another good thing about this variant is that no one can get so lucky as to be dealt two sure-fire reveal hands in a single game and runaway with it. Even if you are dealt two such hands, you only have a budget of 1 premium bid of reveal.

Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts. It's a fun game. We have a regular Oh Hell! circle. I've played hundreds and hundreds of hands of that game. Sometimes we play 99 instead, just for a change. (I find it works well enough for 4 players too.) We don't play as often as I would like, though. Some other players in the circle don't like the brain strain of 99! So I don't envision being able to try out the variants I have suggested above anytime soon....
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Darren M
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Interesting comments and I'd still like to hear more views from others with experience playing the game as well.

Among my two regular playing partners... one generally dislikes 99 (maybe a bit too unintuitive for him) and the other merely thinks it's OK... which is why I don't get to play this as much as I'd like.

I really like the game though which is why I thought I'd ask for a few suggestions and ideas for the bonus scoring levels. When we play again I may just experiment a bit but overall in general I hate to wreck a game with house rules when it may not need it in the first place.
 
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Brian Mullin
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Another interesting variation of this game is Clumond.
http://www.pagat.com/invented/clumond.html

The reward for the premium bids is handled a little differently. Also, the cards used to establish your bid are not discarded at the beginning of the hand but are determined by the three cards left over at the end of the hand.
 
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Shawn Ross
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I played Ninety-Nine for the first time last night. My biggest problem with the game was also the scoring system but in a different way. I feel that the opponents get too many points if a player declares or reveals and doesn't make their bid. My reasoning is that in a three player game you have the declarer pitted against two opponents and I would assume it is slightly harder for the declarer to make their bid than it is for the opponents to make the declarer bust. My fix would be this: If someone declares there is an additional 30 points available to be 'won.' If the declarer makes their bid they get the 30 points. If not the opponents get the 30 points to split evenly among them. Of course, in the case of a reveal the point pot would be 60. My opponents didn't seem to have a problem with the scoring system but they also said they wouldn't have a problem with the game if it was scored in the way I described above. What do you think?
 
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Daniël Muilwijk
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wahooshawn wrote:
I played Ninety-Nine for the first time last night. My biggest problem with the game was also the scoring system but in a different way. I feel that the opponents get too many points if a player declares or reveals and doesn't make their bid. My reasoning is that in a three player game you have the declarer pitted against two opponents and I would assume it is slightly harder for the declarer to make their bid than it is for the opponents to make the declarer bust. My fix would be this: If someone declares there is an additional 30 points available to be 'won.' If the declarer makes their bid they get the 30 points. If not the opponents get the 30 points to split evenly among them. Of course, in the case of a reveal the point pot would be 60. My opponents didn't seem to have a problem with the scoring system but they also said they wouldn't have a problem with the game if it was scored in the way I described above. What do you think?

I don't like this idea, because declaring would become to easy. I think it's nice that declaring means taking great risks in this game.
 
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Daniël Muilwijk
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nexttothemoon wrote:
This appears to be one of the only concerns about the gameplay from the comments I've read on the game. I'm still not experienced enough to know if this is a legitimate concern or not but it certainly does feel somewhat skewed when bonuses of 90 points suddenly vault players into the lead based on a "perfectly" dealt hand... of course you still need to play it well.

The rules state:

Game
Play nine deals, or any higher multiple of nine, and the winner is the player with the highest score. Alternatively, a game is 100 points and the overall winner is the first to win three games.


I always play with this last option and it works very well. The tension is always high and when someone has a perfect hand they win the game, but not the match.
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Raymond Gallardo
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Seabie wrote:


Game
Play nine deals, or any higher multiple of nine, and the winner is the player with the highest score. Alternatively, a game is 100 points and the overall winner is the first to win three games.


I always play with this last option and it works very well. The tension is always high and when someone has a perfect hand they win the game, but not the match.


I agree with Seabie. The first player to win three games makes declaring and revealing more appealing and far riskier -- and thus more entertaining! Here are several things we discovered after playing Ninety-Nine with this way to play:

* We found that it's much easier than you expect to achieve your bid despite declaring or revealing. So you don't need a "perfect" hand to declare. So what ends up happening is eldest hand declares quite often since he has the advantage of the lead.

* Suppose the dealer has about 50 points. If he declares and succeeds, he'll most likely win the game. He however does not have an incentive to reveal; he doesn't need that many points, and thus doesn't need to take the risk. Consequently, Eldest hand and middle hand are compelled to declare to prevent dealer from declaring!

I think the large bonuses are essential to making Ninety-Nine exciting; it forces players to take much bigger risks, and makes the game move faster as this enables a player to win a game in at most 3 hands. In addition, the big bonuses give a huge incentive for the non-declaring/revealing players to form a temporary alliance.

[Edited to fix small typos and add note about temporary alliances.]
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Daniël Muilwijk
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Seabie wrote:
Alternatively, a game is 100 points and the overall winner is the first to win three games.

We play that when multiple players reach the 100 points boundary after the same hand, for all these players it counts as a won game.
 
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