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Subject: Variant: Semi-random Blackbeard rss

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howl hollow howl
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Hey,

My group (RipCityGamers) loves this game. We found the original game (where Blackbeard progresses through the islands) a bit too bland, but the official variant (where he goes to a random island each turn) a bit *too* random. To get a mix of the two, we came up with and playtested the Semi-random Blackbeard variant:

* Do not move Blackbeard in Phase 6.
* After the players have sailed their ships to the islands in Phase 1, the player with the least fame rolls a single die. If an odd number is rolled, Blackbeard moves to the next consecutive island. If an even number is rolled, Blackbeard moves *two* islands ahead. For example, if Blackbeard is on island 2, a roll of 1, 3, or 5 will send him to island 3, but a roll of 2, 4, or 6 will send him to island 4.
* Blackbeard does not necessarily go to Treasure Island in the last turn.

Original variant concept by KC Humphrey.

- d
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howl hollow howl
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Re:Variant: Semi-random Blackbeard
Two notes, folks.

First, this variant was created for the original German version of this game, Piratenbucht, which we still play. We have not played the Pirate's Cove version yet, and, knowing that there were some rules changes made, I cannot promise that this variant works with the new version.

Second, I'd like to respond to Norman Petry's comments for this game, where he proposes a variant to this variant. Yes, we too flirted with the concept of the Weighted Semi-Random Blackbeard when we honed this version, but we scrapped it for various reasons. One big reason is where you can expect Blackbeard to end up in the final turn. In our variant, he will move an average of 1.5 spaces a turn, so, in 12 turns, he'll move an average of 18 spaces. This means he will be flirting with hitting Treasure Island in the endgame, which is an effect you definitely want. In the weighted variant, he will move an average of 10/6 spaces, for a total of 20 spaces. This means that it is most likely that he will clearly overshoot Treasure Island in the endgame, which is less desirable.
 
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Norman Petry
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Re:Variant: Semi-random Blackbeard
Dave (#22162),

I realize that you posted this message quite a while ago, but since you referred to my "Weighted Semi-Random" Blackbeard variant, I thought I should still post a comment (I just came across this message yesterday).

Your conclusion is basically correct -- using the regular Semi-Random version, Blackbeard will end up at Treasure Island more often than if you use my weighted method. However, the difference is not as large as you may imagine. This is because regardless of which movement rule is used, Blackbeard will probably circle the board several times. His total movement over the course of the game can vary widely, and since he is travelling around such a small circuit of islands, there is a good chance that he could end up anywhere. Out of curiosity, I decided to calculate the actual probabilities of Blackbeard landing on each of the 6 islands on turn 12 for both methods, and obtained the following results:

Regular Semi-Random Variant (1,3,5: 1; 2,4,6: 2):

Treasure Island: 22.6%
Tavern Island: 19.6%
Hull Island: 13.7%
Sail Island: 10.7%
Cannon Island: 13.7%
Crew Island: 19.6%

Weighted Semi-Random Variant (1-3: 1; 4-5: 2; 6: 3):

Treasure Island: 16.8%
Tavern Island: 17.3%
Hull Island: 17.2%
Sail Island: 16.5%
Cannon Island: 16.0%
Crew Island: 16.1%

From this, you can see that neither method is likely to deliver Blackbeard to Treasure Island on turn 12 by chance; even using the standard method, the chances are little better than 1 in 5. Using the weighted semi-random method, this outcome is about 6% less likely, which isn't really a significant difference.

Therefore, if you want Blackbeard to appear at Treasure Island on the last turn, it is better to just use a rule that bypasses the die roll and automatically sends him there on turn 12. I think it is a good idea for players to have to fight Blackbeard if they want to wait until the final turn to unload their hulls -- it makes for a nice, dramatic finish to the game. Therefore, we have always preserved this special rule for Blackbeard when using the weighted semi-random variant (or even when B.'s moves are fully random).

Are there any other reasons why you preferred the unweighted, semi-random method? The reason I proposed the weighted version was to:

1) give Blackbeard a bit more range, making the dread pirate more difficult to avoid. In a four-player game, players must risk fighting either Blackbeard or the other players, since only 3 of the 6 islands are certain to be safe from his ravages. In the early game, players will almost always choose to avoid Blackbeard. If there are 4 "safe" islands, a turn can go by with no encounters between either the players or Blackbeard.

2) give players an interesting range of risk/reward tradeoffs when chosing an island to travel to (if the want to avoid Blackbeard). Although B. may hit any 3 of the 6 islands, there is a different likelihood for each one.

2) try to simulate a more "realistic" movement pattern for Blackbeard. It stands to reason that if he is sailing from island to island in a circuit, looking for prey, that he will be more likely to travel a shorter distance, rather than a long one. Piratenbucht can hardly be considered a simulation, but I like to use rules that seem intuitively reasonable, as it strengthens the theme.
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howl hollow howl
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Re:Variant: Semi-random Blackbeard
> Are there any other reasons why you preferred the unweighted, semi-random method?

Truthfully, we never tried it; we like the unweighted variant so much we didn't need to go searching for another one.

Other than the fact that the unweighted one is that much simpler to explain (and, thus, easier yo get folks who are averse to house rules to accept it), I think either one is fine, and would much prefer playing the game with any semi-random method over the two published methods.
 
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Norman Petry
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Re:Variant: Semi-random Blackbeard
Dave (#45125),

I was reading the rules to DoW's new edition of this game, and noticed that they didn't incorporate a semi-random movement rule, even as a variant. Not only that, but they seem to have dropped the fully-random Blackbeard variant that was offered in the original Amigo rules (unless I just missed it).

Anyway, I agree with you that either of these two semi-random methods makes more sense than the alternatives. Having the legendary pirate plod around the board one space at a time just seems so boring and unnatural -- the life of a pirate should be filled with risk and uncertainty! laugh Being able to either find (or avoid) a legendary pirate whenever you want just seems wrong to me. ???
 
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Norman Petry
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Re:Variant: Semi-random Blackbeard
It occurs to me after posting the above that perhaps Days of Wonder didn't use a semi-random method because it would conflict with some of the concepts that they planned to use for legendary pirates.

In particular, the Cacafuego wouldn't work well with a random or semi-random method, because it depends on the fact that all players can locate the ship and fight over its booty. If the Cacafuego moves randomly, one pirate will probably just get lucky, getting the prize without having to fight for it.

There is a fix to this problem, though -- just use different movement rules for each legendary pirate (or at least, the Cacafuego). The Cacafuego is a lumbering tub of a ship, so it makes sense for its movement to be slow and predictable -- have it follow the 1 space/turn movement rule. Blackbeard himself was probably the wildest and most crazy pirate around, so perhaps he should be fully random! The mobility and/or predictability of each other legendary pirate could also be unique to that pirate, which might add even more flavour to the game.

I can see why Days of Wonder wouldn't want to complicate the game with these variations, but it may be an interesting are a for experimentation.

Please post your suggestions!
 
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Norman Petry
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Re:Variant: Semi-random Blackbeard
Yet another thought --

Maybe it would be amusing if the Cacafuego's movements were a bit random! Using either semi-random method, there is a 1 in 2 chance of C. moving 1 space. Therefore, it's appearance would likely draw several pirates to the space one beyond C.'s current location. By itself, this will provoke conflict, but it will be particularly amusing if the Cacafuego isn't even there for the taking, having moved 2-3 spaces instead!
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Sean Ahern
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Re:Variant: Semi-random Blackbeard
Just wanted to add that my gaming group uses the random weighted varient and it makes the game much better. We always have four players so giving the legendary pirate a range of 3 makes you take some calculated risks. The official rules simply took an island out of the round while with the varient I weigh the risk and make judgement calls. We prefer to send the Legendary Pirate to Treasure Island on round 12, no die roll.

 
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Jon W
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I played for the first time last night with the rules as written, and it seemed strange to never have any risk of encountering the LPs. We just dumped treasure on turn 11, then went after a bit more fame on turn 12. I understand there's a risk/reward there, and it's predictable, but it just doesn't seem to fit with the overall theme, or the overall chaos, at all. So I think LP random movement it be.

I'm wondering if maybe a 1:0, 2-5:1, 6:2 scheme might be best. Thematically, I like the notion that if you visit a lair where the Dutchman was known to be recently, he might still be there. And he won't want ye to be disturbin' him. And of course there should be some chance he moves further, too.

Thoughts? Anyone still playing this, and using a movement variant? Anyone like the standard rules better, and if so, why?
 
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