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Subject: No Luck Variant rss

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Tim Harrison
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WARNING: This variant has not been tested. It is just a collection of some initial thoughts.

1) Remove the cards entirely. You may build off your network for one action or start a new network for two actions.

2) Change the Distant Market to: +3 / +2 / +1 / +0 / NMD

Simply go down by one step for each use.

3) Auction off the starting turn order, one auction per player: first, an auction to be player 1, then an auction to be player 2, etc. (The first round now has two actions.)

4) Play 10 rounds in each era of a 3-player game, and 8 rounds in each era of a 4-player game. (Though the number of rounds remains the same, less actions would be used due to the need to start new networks.)

In another post, some people mentioned that the cards brought variety to the game -- to prevent set opening moves, etc. I suspect the initial turn order auction and the reduced number of rounds may prevent it from happening with this variant.

What do you think?

 
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Darrell Hanning
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Reading Mr. Wallace's notes and comments in threads about Brass, I get the impression this game system originally saw a version without the cards, and proved superior with the cards.

And I would agree with that conclusion - I think they add an element to the game that makes it better, not weaker. You now have another dilemma to manage - making your onboard strategy work with your cards.

One thing I might consider is dealing face-up all the cards before the round starts, and having the players "draft" from these, to build their hands. This, too, removes most of the luck element, while still leaving the puzzle of dovetailing your hand with your strategy.
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Larry Levy
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I agree completely with Darrell. The cards in Brass add a lot of skill to the game and ensure that no two games will be alike. Compared to that, the luck it may add to things is a relatively small concern. I think a good player tries to plan to maximize the possibilities from any set of draws. Try out your variant, Tim, but my fear would be that it would be less interesting and have considerably less variety than the original game.
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Juho Snellman
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I'm not a huge fan of the cards, but don't think this variant would be an improvement.

Reducing the number of rounds in the game and increasing the average cost of building an industry doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The average cost of building a industry in a location outside your network is a lot less than 2 actions in practice, since a large proportion of the cards are locations. Using both actions for a single build probably doesn't happen even once a game on average.

This would make the network building part of the game even more important, and Brass doesn't really need that. The rush for rails can already be rather fierce without this change.
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Tim Harrison
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jsnell wrote:
I'm not a huge fan of the cards, but don't think this variant would be an improvement.

Reducing the number of rounds in the game and increasing the average cost of building an industry doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The average cost of building a industry in a location outside your network is a lot less than 2 actions in practice, since a large proportion of the cards are locations. Using both actions for a single build probably doesn't happen even once a game on average.

This would make the network building part of the game even more important, and Brass doesn't really need that. The rush for rails can already be rather fierce without this change.


That makes sense. OK. Back to 10 and 8 rounds then? Any better?
 
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Corin A. Friesen
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I had a similar idea to this one, but my concern was playing without ever-so-useful location cards. So my variant had that you could either play 2 actions, being connected with your network, or do 1 action to build anywhere, which I thought would be interesting. You either have to lengthen the number of rounds by a couple or test the idea.
 
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Tim Harrison
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Ambrose wrote:
I had a similar idea to this one, but my concern was playing without ever-so-useful location cards. So my variant had that you could either play 2 actions, being connected with your network, or do 1 action to build anywhere, which I thought would be interesting. You either have to lengthen the number of rounds by a couple or test the idea.


Unless I'm misunderstanding you, you can already do that. You can play two cards (two actions) to build anywhere.
 
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Corin A. Friesen
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GamesOnTheBrain wrote:
Ambrose wrote:
I had a similar idea to this one, but my concern was playing without ever-so-useful location cards. So my variant had that you could either play 2 actions, being connected with your network, or do 1 action to build anywhere, which I thought would be interesting. You either have to lengthen the number of rounds by a couple or test the idea.


Unless I'm misunderstanding you, you can already do that. You can play two cards (two actions) to build anywhere.

Yes, I know that, what I mean is that it is going to be even more important without the cards because of the absence of location cards.
 
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Tim Harrison
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Ambrose wrote:
GamesOnTheBrain wrote:
Ambrose wrote:
I had a similar idea to this one, but my concern was playing without ever-so-useful location cards. So my variant had that you could either play 2 actions, being connected with your network, or do 1 action to build anywhere, which I thought would be interesting. You either have to lengthen the number of rounds by a couple or test the idea.


Unless I'm misunderstanding you, you can already do that. You can play two cards (two actions) to build anywhere.

Yes, I know that, what I mean is that it is going to be even more important without the cards because of the absence of location cards.


Oh I see. Well I was thinking of extending the number of rounds to compensate for that, but then I thought it would be better to end the game earlier, before the build fills up, in order to keep things different from game to game.
 
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Eric Flood
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I've always thought it would be interesting, for a no-luck variant, simply to allow players the ability to place industry wherever, keeping the networking rules for iron, cotton, and canals/rails.

Barring that not working for some unforeseen reason, allow three disparate networks, but no more, at any given time, keeping the other networking rules for iron, cotton, and canals/rails.
 
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Mark Tyler
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BrenoK wrote:
The cards are horrible, from the design's point of view. Their rules are the clumsiest I've ever seen in an euro.

Please give an example to better illustrate your point.
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Philip Eve
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I don't think removing the cards altogether would work very well. However, if you want your game to be a bit less "defined by the cards", as it were, you could try this: keep all cards in the game, but remove 2p more cards than usual at the start of each phase, where p is the number of players, and give each player 2 "wild cards" which if played allow for building anything, anywhere (as though using 2 cards).
 
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Nomadic Gamer
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BrenoK wrote:
Look at the designer's notes in the manual, Martin wallace almost apologizes for their presence in the game. It's a real pain for the newbies to understand the limitations of the cards, the possibility of playing two cards for any single action. The game's overall feel makes it very frequent for players to forget to discard, or forget to draw new cards, frequently screwing up the game's pace (since it's controlled by the deck). I've played this 13 times and I've yet to see a game where players don't fumble around a little with this part of the game, even with people that have played it before and are really into hand-management.


This is one reason why I'll play it but not teach it.
Hand-management means nothing with worthless cards.
Did anyone notice I had posted a variant (on another thread) of
paying $1 to buy a card and stick 1 under the deck?
Because 2 actions is too high a price to 'fix' worthless cards.
Or something similar to use the cards strategically.
I like the open draft direction....meeple
 
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Ed Chen

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I've thought about this and have several ideas I've tossed around to reduce the luck of the cards. I'm not sure how good any of them are though but I thought I'd share them in case someone can improve on them.

1. Deal out cards normally, but do not remove any from the game. For each round in each phase, you can pay 1*round in the canal or 2*round to the bank to draw three cards and then discard a drawn card or do the normal action of drawing two cards for free. Then the discarded card is shuffled back into the deck. Exception: in round four of each phase, you may draw two cards, and then decide whether you want to pay 4 (or 8 in the rail phase) to access a 3rd card (still discarding one of the drawn cards if you do so).

2. Set aside 30 coins and auction off cards in whatever way you see fit. Coins left at the end are used to determine player's choice on initial turn order. After the auction and turn order is determined, players start with 30 coins as normal.

3. If you draw 4 or more useless cards in the initial draw of the canal phase, after showing your cards you may: shuffle your cards, the cards removed from the game, and the deck, and receive 8 new cards. Remove the appropriate number of cards from the game after that. Useless cards are: Birkenhead, Barrow-in-Furness, duplicate shipyards, duplicate location cards*, and any shipyards if you also have Liverpool.

So for example, the following hand would have 6 "useless" cards:

Birkenhead, Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpool, Shipyard, Shipyard, Oldham, Oldham


* Strictly speaking, duplicates of some location cards can sometimes be very useful, but for the sake of streamlining, it was easier to include all duplicate cards.

Also in regards to the original post, I think if were to change the distant market, I think it would be bad for the balance of the game if there were more than 3 uses of it. Ideally, I think there should be 2.5 uses of it if it were no-luck variant, but I can't think of any way to make that work. Maybe determine it at the start of the game before determining player order.
 
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Philip Eve
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random user wrote:
Also in regards to the original post, I think if were to change the distant market, I think it would be bad for the balance of the game if there were more than 3 uses of it. Ideally, I think there should be 2.5 uses of it if it were no-luck variant, but I can't think of any way to make that work. Maybe determine it at the start of the game before determining player order.


You could have a set of 10 cards (say), and shuffle and randomly turn one up at the start of each phase. Each would have a row of from 2 to 4 spots for the demand marker to sit on, plus a "start" spot to the left. When a sale to the distant market occurs, move the marker one spot to the right, and the player selling cotton gets the income boost shown alongside the spot. Once the marker is on the furthest-right space, no more sales can be made to the distant market.

a) 2 1 0 0
b) 1 1 0 0
c) 3 2 0
d) 3 1 1
e) 3 1 0
f) 2 2 1
g) 2 1 1
h) 2 1 0
i) 3 3
j) 3 2

Edit: this averages out at 3 sales, so the distribution could be worked on if you wanted a lower average I guess.
 
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Tim Harrison
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random user wrote:
Also in regards to the original post, I think if were to change the distant market, I think it would be bad for the balance of the game if there were more than 3 uses of it. Ideally, I think there should be 2.5 uses of it if it were no-luck variant, but I can't think of any way to make that work.


Why not just use:

+2 / +1 / +0 / NMD

Or, if 2.5 would really be the best, you could use 2 tracks:

TRACK 1

+2 / +1 / +0 / NMD

TRACK 2

+1 / +0 / NMD

The game starts with the marker on track 1. If a round ever ends with the marker on the NMD space of track 1, the marker is moved to the +1 space on track 2 for the next round. Otherwise, it is reset to the +2 space of track 1.
 
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Ed Chen

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I'm not sure what the right number is, but I've found in general people are loath to use the distant market even if there is a small chance of hitting No More Demand.

What this often means is there are 2 to 3 uses of the distant market, enough to get it such that a -4 or a -3 tile will cause NMD, and then no one else wants to go there.

The reason I think this is important is that usually if you are playing a ports strategy and you get unlucky and there are 4 or 5+ sales at the distant market because of -0 and -1 tiles being pulled, you will have a much harder time than if only 2 or 3 were sent to the distant market.

It would be interesting to see an analysis of the hands played online to see what the actual average is.
 
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