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Subject: Variant based on V2 - and beyond rss

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Jonathan Degann
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Having read some of the concerns about the game, the V2 fixes, and considering what I thought were some rules that added needless time to the game, I played my first game of WoN with my own variant rules. The critical change was elimination of bartering. Here's a summary of the changes:

1) No bartering. All trades are done through the market. Bartering seemed like a redundant rule and was accused of lengthening the game considerably.

2) No buy-sell spread. All trades were done with the market at the "buy" price. Since that would artificially raise the "sell" price, I added cubes at the start so that each commodity had a price about equal to the starting barter price, midway between the normal buy and sell price.

3) During the trade phase, players could buy or sell as much as they wanted in a single commodity each turn. However, if trading more than one cube, the entire trade is done at the most unfavorable price. For example, if buying three cubes at prices 21, 22, and 23, the cost would be 3 x 23.

4) Per V2, each of the commodity packages had a bonus of $80 rather than $40.

5) Per V2, I added 12 hexes worth of impassable terrain.

6) Per V2, each loan had a $1 interest rate per turn.

7) At the final selling stage, all commodites within a type sold for a single price. We counted the total cubes to be sold, added half of them to the market, and sold all at that price.


In all I think the game played just fine. With 3 players, it may have been too fast - only four turns before I was able to lay down all my tiles. But we got in and out in two hours with 2 new players. Even though it was only four (or five?) turns, I didn't feel that the game was too short to be satisfying - but I can see how one would want investments to pay off a little more.

Here are what I perceive to be the weaknesses of my system, based on what I'm trying to achieve with it: quick play but some edginess in the trading.

1) After the first turn, trading did go briskly, but there was still a tendency to trade one cube at a time, especially if a player was the only one who could sell that color.

2) Only a little bit of gamesmanship in choosing when to buy or sell a given commodity. Prices not that unstable - unlike Planet Steam, where speculation is much more of a feature - which works nicely.

3) The game might benefit from more turns. Expnasion was very rapid with the use of loans - and the interest rate was not much of a damper.

Next time I'd try the following:

1) To avoid micro-transactions and encourage more strategic selling and bigger swings, I'd have just five rounds of trading. Each turn you may buy or sell as much as you want in any one commodity - at the most unfavorable price (see #3 in the first section). But then, you're finished with that commodity. An alternative could be to just play with five rounds of trading, period. So you can trade twice in a commodity if you forgo trading in something else.

2) This might make money tighter on its own. Possibly, though, I'd limit loans to 3 per turn. Another alternative would be to give $20 for every loan (no declining value) but to instead increase the INTEREST by one per loan. So 1 loan has $1 interest, but 3 loans have $6 interest.
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Peter Hansell
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Jonathan Degann wrote:

1) No bartering. All trades are done through the market. Bartering seemed like a redundant rule and was accused of lengthening the game considerably.

This is currently how the 2 player game is concieved.

Jonathan Degann wrote:

2) No buy-sell spread. All trades were done with the market at the "buy" price. Since that would artificially raise the "sell" price, I added cubes at the start so that each commodity had a price about equal to the starting barter price, midway between the normal buy and sell price.

I am not sure that I like this change. It would make the commodities much more generous and create more cash in the game. Currently each time you buy and sell from the market you loose in the transactions. I think this would give 10-15% more cash to players and change the balance of the game. I think the game was supposed to be tight with the cash so the effects of puchase/production decisions would play out over several turns. Some of the changes ($80 starting cash) are making the game more balanced but are shortening the game in turns. This is taking away from the part of the game that allows the market mechanics to have effect on the players vp positions.

Combinining the inequity of the buy/sell mechanic and joining it with bartering creates an environment where the bartering becomes the difference maker between players. If I have a hot commodity that is up in price and I can dictate which player I barter with and have an advantage. I can purchase what I need cheaper (barter price or better) while hurting players that I do not barter with. This seems like one of the keys of the game mechanic. Not only who can produce the commodity that everyone wants (and pays well) but how to game the trading system to get even a better payout.

Jonathan Degann wrote:

7) At the final selling stage, all commodites within a type sold for a single price. We counted the total cubes to be sold, added half of them to the market, and sold all at that price.

This is a neat idea. I still have not found the final sell-off mechanic. I would like to ask jrd23 to run this in his analysis too.
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Travis Sonsalla
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Peteloaf wrote:
Jonathan Degann wrote:

7) At the final selling stage, all commodites within a type sold for a single price. We counted the total cubes to be sold, added half of them to the market, and sold all at that price.

This is a neat idea. I still have not found the final sell-off mechanic. I would like to ask jrd23 to run this in his analysis too.


I like "sell three commodity cubes at a time" for the final sell-off. It goes quick, but you need to factor in what your opponents have and which commodities they might sell before your next sell opportunity.
 
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David Gibbs
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One of the issues I have with any of the "sell 3 at a time" or "buy 3 at a time" is that it really ups the value of place in the turn order, especially as you get more players in the game.

In a 6-player game, with ony 5 commodities to sell, it may be reasonable to guess each of players 1-5 sell off a different commodity. Now, the last player is going to get about $3/cube less, rather than $1/cube. If people hold, say, 15 cubes at game end -- that's $45 or 4.5 VPs just for sitting in the wrong place. With one at a time sell off -- it is only 1.5 VPs.

In fact, I kind of like the sell all cubes at the same price because it does ignore seating position for end of game.

Also in the buy 3 at a time -- this will burn last player in a game. Now, it may not be that everyone needs three of some good, so it may not be as extreme at the start -- but it could very well be.
 
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Peter Hansell
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travbot wrote:
Peteloaf wrote:
Jonathan Degann wrote:

7) At the final selling stage, all commodites within a type sold for a single price. We counted the total cubes to be sold, added half of them to the market, and sold all at that price.

This is a neat idea. I still have not found the final sell-off mechanic. I would like to ask jrd23 to run this in his analysis too.


I like "sell three commodity cubes at a time" for the final sell-off. It goes quick, but you need to factor in what your opponents have and which commodities they might sell before your next sell opportunity.

I think there is a small game within the game here. I can possibly get you on ore while you are fighting to sell labor with the guy on your left.

This is ok but I would like to move to more of a simple count out. We all do the count out together and eliminate the rounds during this last phase. The mini game does not have much ability to change player positions so does not have that much drama.

Even after saying that the 3 cubes is winning as the official rule. I still believe there is a better solution out there. Something Easy, Quick, and Rewarding to players who have a stock of valuable commodity.

Thanks for the input, Peter
 
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Peter Hansell
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dagibbs wrote:
One of the issues I have with any of the "sell 3 at a time" or "buy 3 at a time" is that it really ups the value of place in the turn order, especially as you get more players in the game.

In a 6-player game, with ony 5 commodities to sell, it may be reasonable to guess each of players 1-5 sell off a different commodity. Now, the last player is going to get about $3/cube less, rather than $1/cube. If people hold, say, 15 cubes at game end -- that's $45 or 4.5 VPs just for sitting in the wrong place. With one at a time sell off -- it is only 1.5 VPs.


John made a very nice computer model here:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/441779

Since I still think the sell 3 is the best solution so far it will keep the game within a game and give an advantage to the person who gets an early sales position. I would hope that hard core WoN fans will try to play this advantage. If I can close out the game but choose to wait another turn for the better selloff position I might do it.
 
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Jonathan Degann
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I have more to say on my variant but I'm on the road so I'll just comment on the final sell off.

I agree with Peter that you lose some "drama" but it's unlikely to change the winner, and so something quick is probably best. Note that the basic rule is the one used in Knizia's Palmyra - but so much more of your final score is based on that, and players won't have nearly as many commodities to sell to end the game.

Apart from my "everybody gets the average" I have another possibility, inspired by a previous suggestion, but with some added detail.

For a given color:
Order the players holdings. Suppose four players have yellow as follows: 2, 5, 6, 14

The player with the fewest sells his 2. The next lightest player sells 2, and so on until everyone has sold 2.

Now one player has only 3 left. He sells his three, and each player sells 3 more, in order of who has the fewest.

The next player sells his remaining 2. Now the last player can sell all his 9 remaining (compressing 2 steps).

If you prefer, the player with the most can sell first, on the argument that the player with the most has the greatest market power.
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Ron K
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'80' maxlength='250'> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="15%" align="right"><b>Avatar OverText</b></td> <td width="85%"> <input type="text" name="overtext[avatar]" value="Train Game anyone?
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Jonathan Degann wrote:
I have another possibility, inspired by a previous suggestion, but with some added detail.

For a given color:
Order the players holdings. Suppose four players have yellow as follows: 2, 5, 6, 14

The player with the fewest sells his 2. The next lightest player sells 2, and so on until everyone has sold 2.

Now one player has only 3 left. He sells his three, and each player sells 3 more, in order of who has the fewest.

The next player sells his remaining 2. Now the last player can sell all his 9 remaining (compressing 2 steps).

If you prefer, the player with the most can sell first, on the argument that the player with the most has the greatest market power.


Aside from the somewhat elegant mechanism, what is the actual value proposition here - does it make having much more than someone else have non-linearly less value or not? If it does cause less value, why wouldn't that person sell down to match on the prior turn and if so does this add a meaningful decision or just a scripted step that everyone needs to learn?
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Jonathan Degann
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Earlier, someone had suggested that the final sell off be done so that whoever has least (in any given color) sells off first, and so on. That seemed to put the player with the most in a disproportionately weak position - he has to wait until everyone sold off completely. So this was just an attempt to mitigate that effect.

Yes, you can sell off during the prior turn, but this mostly deals with the final production round.

It is not intended to provide any strategy, just some modified "fairness" in the sell off, which would also be faster than doing it one cube at a time.

I found our initial approach to be entirely satisfactory: a single mid-point price that applies to all players.
 
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Peter Hansell
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I think if you have the player with the most sell first it will encourage hoarding which feels bad. Peter
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Brian Cook
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2 other suggestions for how to do it, neither of which I've actually tried. These may have been what you intended, but wasn't how I interpretted them:

1.) Similar to above, selling by number owned, except everyone does their selling at once. So in the example above, if there are people with 2, 5, 6, and 14 food, you average the price for the first 8 sold, and everyone sells their first two at that price (hypothetically, the first 8 empty sell spots are 12, 11, 11, 10, 10, 9, 9, 8--the average is 10, so everyone sells their first two cubes at 10 each), then everyone sells their next 3 cubes at the new average price for the next 9 spaces, then the next 1 at the average of the next two spaces, and finally the person who started with 14 sells their last 8 at the average price of the final 8 open spaces.

2.) Everyone sells all cubes for the average price of all cubes that are going to be sold--so in the above example, look at the next 27 open spaces, find the average sell price, and go with that for everyone.

Both can certainly speed things up. They eliminate any benefit from turn order, and give more of an advantage to whoever has most (you don't really get to leverage the market, but particularly with the 2nd model you get a higher sell price on average than you would have before). It does to some extent limit the mini-game of deciding which one you sell first, since everything gets sold at once, but also should move things along much more quickly.
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Jonathan Degann
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Brian's 2nd suggestion is what we actually did in practice, and I thought it was fine. The one itty bitty problem is that you often end up with a fractional average, so you have to sell 13 cubes at 15.5. You can obviously choose to round (I didn't do that because I declared the "average" rule at the beginning of the game and I didn't want to change things at the last minute). Alternatively, you can add half the 27 cubes (rounded up eg), and wherever the price lands is what everyone sells at.

Peter's point that letting the most sell first would encourage hoarding is a good one, and so I now agree that's a bad idea. But note, it's not that big a deal using the system I outline. In the example, he'd sell his first 2 cubes before anyone else, and then after everyone sold 2, he'd be first to sell the next 3 cubes. I am *not* advocating that he sells everything at once. That would indeed be very lopsided.
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Alex Fiedler
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What about something similar to a simultaneous bidding system?

Everyone simultaneously puts whatever cubes they want to sell of 1 color into closed fist and reveal all at once.
All cubes sold are sold at the average price of cubes sold.
Do this 4-5 times.

Just not sure how to handle the buying.
 
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