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Subject: Request for ideas to clear a... Stale Pool rss

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Chris
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This game has never failed to please both new players and old hands. The only mechanical problem I have with this game is that at some point too many of the 3 face up tiles will become stale.

For example, let's say Christine is 7 spaces ahead of everyone else in her Yellow Bakers Guild investment. She now has no incentive to take any Yellow Markets (which increase Guild investment by +2) from the pool. Neither does anyone else, likely, as she is so far ahead in Yellow that it is just not worth the effort to try to catch her.

One Yellow Market enters the pool of 3 common draw tiles. Eventually another shows up. And there they remain, turn after turn. This happens for us in most sessions of the game and is annoying as heck. Often enough this situation screws one player in particular just by random bad luck.

I played a game yesterday where this happened *yet again*. There were the 2 Yellow Markets and all the three players could do was hope for a good choice on the 3rd tile. One player wound up with 3 Yellow Markets to 'choose' from twice, and for 4 or 5 other turns wound up with other markets as the 3rd choice when *any* Building at all was truly needed.

We would love to find a simple solution to clear Very Stale tiles from the pool. Not remove them from the game, but simply discard them back into the bag (you use a bag, right?). Not to change the pool often, but eventually, at some point, giving a ray of hope. A simple solution which does not remake this into a different game.

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Nothing I've thought of has satisfied me.

A simple solution is to disallow duplicate tiles of any kind. Eh. No.

Using a counter of some sort would be barbaric.

Throw dice every turn...

The guy who had this problem yesterday (John) would have gladly (I believe) given up an entire turn in order to flush the entire pool and do nothing else. I am convinced this is way too drastic.

You could of course allow players to draw from the bag at any time rather than from the 3 face up tiles. This would then become a very different game, and not one I'd have any interest in playing, so scratch that.

Dump all of the pool tiles and refresh them every time Sondra bumps the table.

Allowing for player choice to wipe the pool somehow... No. Unless...

Giving each player 1-3 Mulligan Tokens during Setup might work (lukewarm+). Discard a token on your turn to discard and replace any tile in the pool. Or discard a token on your turn to flush and redraw the entire pool.

Perhaps allow anyone to discard a Man in order to discard and replace any tile in the pool... except this can be used late in the game to avoid losing VPs from unplayed Men. No.

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Maybe some version of the Mulligan Tokens can be used. I'm okay with very occasional magical powers, maybe, I think. I'd like to also stipulate that any new tile must be different from the tile you discarded - toss any duplicate and draw again.

It's possible that this staleness problem is peculiar to our game group. I doubt it's unique. I'm concerned that this issue is beginning to relegate this nice game to a dusty forgotten back shelf.
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J C Lawrence
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Liumas wrote:
This game has never failed to please both new players and old hands. The only mechanical problem I have with this game is that at some point too many of the 3 face up tiles will become stale.


It doesn't happen here: such unassailable leads don't happen and second place is still worth fighting for.
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Chris
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clearclaw wrote:
Liumas wrote:
This game has never failed to please both new players and old hands. The only mechanical problem I have with this game is that at some point too many of the 3 face up tiles will become stale.


It doesn't happen here: such unassailable leads don't happen and second place is still worth fighting for.

I knew you'd say that.

This post isn't really about dealing with someone getting a huge lead in a Guild, but about the pool becoming stale. Someone getting a huge lead in a given Guild is just one symptom of the stale pool problem. But... we sometimes calculate that it may be worth it to let someone spend a lot of time on their own in a particular Guild progressing while we go off and do other things (sometimes they get ahead in the Guild 'by accident' through drawing those buildings by chance, of course). Or we deem that particular guild just not worth fighting over.

That's just one symptom. Another is when you go for 8 turns in a row, and the pool only has Markets, of any Guild at all, and you need a Building, of any kind at all, and you lose the game thereby, it is frustrating. I spend some of the game trying to avoid being hurt by a bad pool spread.

In the game example I cited originally, for 8 turns the 3 players hoped for a good 3rd tile. I did great - got something good every time. Another player found 50% of the tiles useful. But the 3rd player got had 100% poor luck for those 8 turns.

I note that you J C use the 'draw from the bag if desired instead of the pool' method. Your solution changes the game too drastically for me (it's a different game) and just leaves the problem out there. We like the tightness of having to deal with the 3 face up pool tiles only (I know what you have and what you can have). We just want some flexibility on dealing with a Stale Pool and hope our fellow Geeks can help come up with ideas.
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J C Lawrence
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Liumas wrote:
This post isn't really about dealing with someone getting a huge lead in a Guild, but about the pool becoming stale.


Which doesn't realy happen here. Sure, it can and does clog a bit, but has never clogged to the point of being a significant problem for multiple players.

Quote:
Another is when you go for 8 turns in a row, and the pool only has Markets, of any Guild at all, and you need a Building, of any kind at all, and you lose the game thereby, it is frustrating.


Yes, that is frustrating and I'm not sure that is resolvable.

Quote:
I spend some of the game trying to avoid being hurt by a bad pool spread.


Which seems reasonable and integral to good play in City Guilds.

Quote:
In the game example I cited originally, for 8 turns the 3 players hoped for a good 3rd tile. I did great - got something good every time. Another player found 50% of the tiles useful. But the 3rd player got had 100% poor luck for those 8 turns.


I'm curious as to why that simply never happens here, not even close. I suspect differences in groupthink, how we approach the game.

Quote:
I note that you J C use the 'draw from the bag if desired instead of the pool' method. Your solution changes the game too drastically for me (it's a different game) and just leaves the problem out there.


Actually I play both ways and don't mind too much either way. Yes, they're different games, but they're both reasonable and good and different games.
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Chris
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clearclaw wrote:
Yes, that is frustrating and I'm not sure that is resolvable.

I'm still hoping someone might come in here with a solution, or an idea for one. Many games have a latency mechanism of some sort which can remove 'stale' tiles, but none I can think of will satisfy me here!

I still don't hate the idea of being able to replace a stale tile 3 times in a game (say). Still maintains the ability of players to mostly count on the pool as is. Why I like 3 times is that a player can use all 3 'removes' to clear the entire pool at once. Or a once per game Mulligan to clear the pool, redeal it, then add the removed tiles back to the bag.

Quote:
I note that you J C use the 'draw from the bag if desired instead of the pool' method.

clearclaw wrote:
Actually I play both ways and don't mind too much either way. Yes, they're different games, but they're both reasonable and good and different games.

Right! I get this. Looking at it this way, it is worth a try to see how it works out.

We could of course just keep plodding along as normal with an eye to how often this continues to occur. Maybe the situation will change by chance or by simply knowing it may occur.

Thanks for the discussion here.
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Guy Riessen
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I truly don't understand what the problem is here. So what if someone has a 7 point lead in a guild--likely that is a losing position because like most games with multiple scoring tracks, it hurts to have such a huge lead! I guarantee you *will* lose if you have a seven point lead in a single guild in any game with us because too much of your play has focused on that guild. The player who will win, at least when playing with experienced gamers will be the one who has a slight lead in a single guild, and second place in the rest.

The pool cannot go stale because it is always worth playing a market in a block where you will retain first place, OR to force a costly man-power battle between other players. Since second place is so worth fighting for in this game, you win on both counts--you are either pressuring for second, or securing second place for the bakers guild. Appropriate second place positions will win you the game.

Literally the only time I've seen a stale draw selection is in the final two turns where the end-game has solidified. But even then, that is fairly rare since most of our games see the final couple turns closely contested, with good vs. bad play actually making the difference between first and third place.

We don't use the draw from the bag variant.
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Chris
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Sprydle wrote:
I truly don't understand what the problem is here.

Liumas wrote:
at some point too many of the 3 face up tiles will become stale.

Liumas wrote:
This post isn't about dealing with someone getting a huge lead in a Guild, but about the pool becoming stale.

The situations and numbers which are used above to illustrate are completely made up and fictitious.
This post isn't an attempt to be a discussion about these fake situations.
We are asking the question asked in the post Title line, "Request for ideas to clear a Stale Pool".

Liumas wrote:
We just want some flexibility on dealing with a Stale Pool and hope our fellow Geeks can help come up with ideas.

We would like to have as little impact on the game as possible.
 
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Guy Riessen
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To resurrect a years old thread....

The main problem with your mulligan ideas is that, with a card-counting-capable group in the later half of the game, the mulligans could be used to tactically improve your score with a clear understanding of the odds to do so. Again that will significantly change the game since it adds a direct score-improving mechanism to exploit. The the solution must be automatic and happen regardless of whether it is or is not ideal for the current player.

So a Ticket to Ride style pool clearer would work to fix the most extreme cases (and one you identified in your "fake" example). If there are 3 of kind, regardless of whether people want them or not, three more tiles get pulled, and the original three get tossed back in the bag.
 
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