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Subject: "Official" 2 player variant rss

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Alex Rockwell
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This is my most recent update of the official 2 player rules. (This is V2.2, updated April 19, 2010).


2 Player Homesteaders Rules:
****************************
* Include only one of each building in the game, except include two of Farm, Market, and Foundry.

* Use the auction tiles as if it were a 3 player game. Thus, use the tiles for spaces 1 and 2.

* Before the start player places their bid token for the round, they also place the neutral bid token on any auction item. The level at which the neutral bid token is placed is determined below. You may want to use a second token to keep track of the neutral bid level. You can do this on auction space 3 to make it less confusing. Note: The start player is allowed to place the neutral bid token on an item and then overbid it, if desired. They usually will want to place it on the other item however.

* The neutral bid token level begins the game at '5'. (On turn 1, the start player will place the neutral token on '5' on one item, and then will make their own bid. Usually a player will chosoe to bid on the other item, but they may choose to overbid the neutral token if desired.

* If both players win an auction item in a round, then the neutral bid level increases by 1 for the next round. So for example, if both players win an item in round 1, then you increase the neutral bid level to 6. * Exception: If the neutral bid token is at '9', it cannot be further increased.

* Whenever a player passes decrease the neutral bid token by one level. The minimum the neutral bid level can reach is 3.

* If neither player wins auction space #1, then the start player token passes to the other player. If one of the players wins auction space #1, they receive the start player marker as normal.

* If the start player begins the round by passing instead of bidding, they still place the neutral bid token on an auction space of their choice. (If the bid level was at '6', they would pass, place the neutral bid token on an item of their choice at a bid of 6, and then reduce the bid level for the future).
***********************

Note that this gives control of the neutral bid to the start player. This should be considered part of the reward for winning auction #1. The advantage to the player who is randomly given the start player marker on turn 1 is very minimal (less than 1 silver of value, and thus less than 1 point). If this bothers you, then you can say that whoever did not start with the start player marker wins ties at game end (instead of having it be determined by most silver).

The goal of this variant is to have the bid level simulate how it works in a 3 player game. Essentially, if both players win auctions, then the 'third' player passed. He has more money, and is willing to bid more next turn. If a player passes, then the neutral bid token has 'won' an auction. This is simulated by him having less money in the future, so he is not willing to bid as much. The neutral bid token will end up being higher late in the game if players do not pass much, and lower if they pass more frequently.




*******************
The following rule change is now official and is included in these rules:

You may choose to place the neutral bid token before you make your bid, and then may overbid it. (Instead of having to place it on the auction you do not bid on).


This is how this might be used:
Lets say that the items for bit were Commercial and Industrial.
You notice that your opponent has pretty much no use at all for the industrial, and it would be a mistake for them to buy it even at 3. You could use either commercial or industrial.

You place the neutral token on the commercial building (the only one the opponent can use), at say 5, then you bid 6. The other tile has no bid currently.

Your opponent now has two options:
1) Bid on the industrial for 3. If you were correct in determining that it would be a mistake for them to take this at any price, then you just caused them to make a mistake. You get the commercial you were fine with for 6.
2) They could overbid you on the commercial at 7. Now you bid on the industrial for 3, getting a great deal!


This would introduce a means of getting a cheap item in 2 player, like exists in 3-4 player. As in 3-4 player, this would occur when there was an item that was only desirable to a certain player. It would not allow both players to get a cheap item for 3 (which would occur if you were allowed to not place the neutral bid token - you could then simply bid 3 somewhere and your opponenet would be offered an item for 3. This would occur a lot if players were poor).


I think this would open up some interesing plays, without breaking anything. It would certainly award flexibility in your plans, to be able to do this and to avoid having the opponent do it to you.

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Steve Duff
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Sounds awesome, thanks for continuing to work on this.

I love the fact that the 3rd track is there, perfect for tracking the neutral level.
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Alex Rockwell
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Yes, it is cool that the 3rd track is available for this.

I think this ruleset will better simulate the effect of having another player than the previous rules.
 
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So it goes.
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Agreed. My first 2 games were a 2 player variant with 6 and 4 as the starting bid for auctions 1 and 2. We both wound up with 7 or 8 buildings at game end with little or no unpaid debt. Ir seemed to easy to win an auction this way. Oh and the start bids were raised during the town and city phases to 7/4 and 7/5 for auctions 1 and 2.
 
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Sheamus Parkes
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Played a round with the "official" variant.

Seemed to work pretty well. Bob bid all the way up to 9 on the 9th turn. I passed that turn so he never went above 9.

It didn't really effect the number of times we passed. In fact, I believe we both passed exactly twice. I was expecting to pass three times, but my wife passed after I put out a low bid and made me pay for something I didn't really want.


So as far as tightening the game, I'm not sure it did a ton. However, what it did do was add a lot more interest into the bidding. We actually had 3-4 turns that we had overbids. There was also a lot of thought into what the start player wanted to open bidding up on.

For what it's worth, we did simplify a little from what you did above. I forgot to make the pass=decrease optional so we just always lowered it.
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Alex Rockwell
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Updated 1/27: Now you always reduce the bid level when a player passes, it is not optional. This was unnecessarily complex.
It always goes up when no one passes (maximum of 9), it always goes down whenever a player passes (minimum 3).
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Sheamus Parkes
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Alexfrog wrote:
Updated 1/27: Now you always reduce the bid level when a player passes, it is not optional. This was unnecessarily complex.
It always goes up when no one passes (maximum of 9), it always goes down whenever a player passes (minimum 3).


That's actually how I played it the first time

Worked just fine.
 
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Robert Cannon
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You should put this in a PDF and post it to the files section so that it will be easier to find.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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I put up a text file with the rules.
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Tim Gilberg
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Is the dummy token dropped by two if both players pass?
 
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Alex Rockwell
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Gilby wrote:
Is the dummy token dropped by two if both players pass?

Yes it is.
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Alex Rockwell
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I added an update to the first post, of a proposed modification to the 2 player rules, which would allow the first player to place the neutral bid marker first and then overbid it, leaving the other item available for $3. This might occasionally lead to interesting play, as described in that post.

If you are playing 2 player, and are interested, go ahead and try this out and let me know what you think. Thanks!
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Played this variant for the first time today. It feels quite different than a 3 or 4 person game but basic strategies remain the same. Went quick and smooth though and definitely "works." The only question I have for Alex is about the removal of the second rail line in the final phase of the game. (Rail line is the tile that allows you to build a second tile right?)

By removing this you can possibly create a situation where the second player also wins a bid but is left with nothing to build! This happened to me tonight. There was only one building left of type (I think it was commercial) and due to the adjustments for the variant one industrial (rail line). my opponent won the bid and I said oh whatever, ill just buy this commercial one then. She built the rail line and then the last commercial! I had spent 9 silver outbidding the dummy bid but didn't want to spend 12 to outbid her. I had nothing I could build since there were no available tiles left in the category that my building permit allowed. (her tile was build any and mine was build industrial or commercial).

Is this a situation you thought of? It seems like a very smart move to make but a bit overpowered. I am just curious if the test plays of the official variant took this situation into consideration and deemed it okay or if it was overlooked. Technically if I saw the possibility I could have just bid higher or passed and took points and then purchased gold through trade instead of building.

I was wondering if the second rail line should be left in the game but as I said, just curious what Alex thinks of that situation for a two-player game. Otherwise I thought it was great variant and it definitely will be played again. Thanks for the great game!

p.s. I'm playing it in Uganda, East Africa. This game traveled thousands of miles to be played by me!
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Sean McCarthy
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I think that's just something you have to be careful about as a player. The possibility of not having anything left to build happens in 3-4 player games too, and not just in the city phase either.
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Alex Rockwell
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Yes the possibility always exists of getting 'screwed' out of what you want to build, if you are not careful. There is only 1 of each building in 2 player to allow this to happen here.

It means you need to be careful when this is a possibility, and remember than auction 1 goes first!
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Steve Duff
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Just played this tonight, worked extremely well. Played with the so-called "alternate" neutral.

Really can't think of any reason why this shouldn't be the normal rule. Start player places the neutral and his token wherever he wishes (as long as the neutral is at least the minimum level).

Most of the time, you just pick the other track anyway, so forcing it is just unnecessary, and prevents you from doing that rare move when it actually arrives.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:

Really can't think of any reason why this shouldn't be the normal rule. Start player places the neutral and his token wherever he wishes (as long as the neutral is at least the minimum level).


Yes, thats what I was thinking, I just hadnt had a chance to test it yet. (And start player places it on any auction item before bidding - at exactly the minimum level).


I have updated the official rules to reflect this change, and have uploaded a new Rules txt file. (Once it is posted up there I will delete the old one).
 
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Scott Nelson
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2 player variant worked fine. Nice and simple.
 
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Nolan Lichti
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ldsdbomber wrote:
If I put the neutral bid on Space 1, value 3, and my own bid immediately on top on Space 1,value 4

does that mean the missus can put her bid on Space 2, value 3, and then I HAVE to take my bid on Space 1, and she automatically gets hers, i.e. I dont get to outbid her. If so, would that mean she could move to the bid 4 on Space 1 I vacated.

I almost never use this tactic (placing the neutral bid and then outbidding it) for this very reason. Unless you are certain that there is no way that the other person will want to win the other auction, this can be a risky move.

Quote:
This wording of having to do nothing if you currently are leading a bid makes me wonder how the auction prices go up in 2P unless you are specifically just outbidding each other on one space, but why would you go up very far if the other space is still there much cheaper?

Remember that the neutral bid starts at 5, and continues to increase every time it is outbid. In my experience, the neutral bid almost never drops below 5, and never below 4.

It's when that neutral bid gets around 6 or 7 that you'll find yourself passing if the auctions don't suit you. But you're right, this usually doesn't happen without at least bidding your opponent up first.

Hopefully that answers your question. I honestly didn't quite understand which part was confusing you.
 
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Scott Nelson
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ldsdbomber wrote:
whoah, it goes up whenever its outbid? I thought the neutral bid only went up when both players won an auction???? and if either player passes it goes down 1?? there were several rounds where one of us passed so the neutral bid was never that high, and was often just 3 or 4.

We ended up with scores of 50 to 47, is that dreadful? it felt like we were clueless, but it was a fun little game, even though I might have to upgrade the components (will wait to see images of the new edition)



You are right, the bid only goes up at the end of an auction in which both players won. Passing by either player drops the neutral auction bid 1 step, for the next auction.
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Nolan Lichti
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Ha! Yeah, sorry, I wasn't clear. blush You were playing correctly.

You clearly are passing more often than we do in our 2-player games. We probably pass 1 to 2 times each, and rarely do we pass up an auction that can be won for 5 or less.

Like you said, I'm sure it's partially related to familiarity with the game.
 
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