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Subject: Two-player game variant - adding a neutral player rss

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Costas
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Over on this thread, there were some discussions about adding a 3rd neutral player as a variant to a 2-player game of WC/CE. This is what I've playtested so far...

Option 1
Turn Order:
Player A, Player B, Neutral(Player B), Player A, Player B, Neutral(Player A), repeat.

Neutral player available actions:
Any null action

Option 2
Turn Order:
same as Option 1
Neutral player starts with one share of the NYC and C&O each.

Neutral player available actions:
1) Any null action
2) Development of any hex containing the C&O or the NYC
3) Expansion of either the C&O or the NYC
----

I normally prefer to play games RAW but I have the luxury of being able to play this game at the office over lunch; today there were only 2 of us. I'm not particularly fond of the standard 2-player game so we tried option 2.

We spent some time trying to figure out how best to handle the neutral player having 2 shares. Some questions arose:
- If the neutral player starts with 2 shares, do we auction off 2 additional shares during the initial auction?
- Do the NYC and C&O start with any capital?
- Is it wise to invest in the NYC and C&O when a player can control expansions by them without actually owning stock (through the neutral player)?

We decided to begin the game as if the neutral player won the shares (not auctioning off C&O and NYC again in the initial auction). The C&O started with $15 capital, the NYC $18.

It was a weird game, very fiddly. We've only tried it once but there's some definite balance issues here. The game ended with Sean owning 2 shares of the PRR and Wabash, and Costas owning 3x B&O, 2x C&O and 1x PRR. I even let Sean take the PRR into Chicago instead of tanking it (which would have completely destroyed him). Final scores:
Costas - $179
Sean - $152

My thoughts:
I think if you want to spice up a 2-player game of WC/CE, Option 1 seems to work well.

Option 2, on the other hand, needs some work. I think it overly complicates things.

Any comments?

 
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Eugene
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rockusultimus wrote:

We spent some time trying to figure out how best to handle the neutral player having 2 shares. Some questions arose:
- If the neutral player starts with 2 shares, do we auction off 2 additional shares during the initial auction?


Having brainstormed this variant, I say yes. So the C&O and the NYC begin the game pre-diluted.

Thanks for giving this a try. I really like neutral 3rd player, controlled by both opponents, in Web of Power: The Duel. Something along those lines for WC/CE would be lovely.



 
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Pasta Batman
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rockusultimus wrote:
It was a weird game, very fiddly.

What exactly was fiddly about it? It doesn't seem there is anything extra to track, other than whose turn it is to control the neutral player.

BTW, it seems like Sean handed the game to you by not grabbing NYC or C&O. All he could do was null actions when it was his turn, whereas every other turn you could double build/develop the C&O.
 
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Costas
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Maybe fiddly isn't the right word. There was this whole other layer of analysis as you try to 'play' the neutral player. You're taking actions instead of simply burning them (compared to Option 1).

I'm not a fan of standard 2-player Wabash that much anyways. Often too mechanical and mathematical. This compounded that somehow.

Option 1 of simply taking turns burning actions as the neutral player seemed different - felt more like I was playing, rather than getting played.

pastabatman wrote:
BTW, it seems like Sean handed the game to you by not grabbing NYC or C&O.

There are very small margins for error in a 2-player game. He had a strong showing out of the gate, but couldn't end it quickly enough.

 
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