Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
19 Posts

Wyatt Earp» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Turtling rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Steven
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've really, really enjoyed my (three) games of Wyatt Earp so far, even though I've yet to win. But one of the other players -- ok, my wife -- has employed a consistent strategy that has raised some questions in my mind.

Typically she very rarely lays down any cards on the table. Instead, she simply collects card after card into her hand, then builds in a last-minute "rush" that exhausts her hand and triggers scoring.

This has been a very effective strategy for her so far, both in two-player and three-player games. Usually she can parasitize off of melds that other players have already played (thus allowing her to lay off single or double outlaw cards that would otherwise be unplayable). And the benefit of the rush is that she either overwhelms other players' melds (thus seizing all of the reward money) or muscles into a share of the reward money to minimize other people's gains.

I have two questions about this strategy.

1. It seems to me that if everybody does this (and I've certainly been tempted to copy this strategy), the game becomes a little less enjoyable. Rather than duking it out for capture points, everybody is instead just building up their hand -- like Ticket to Ride without trains. Is this actually a fun way to play the game?

2. How in the world do you beat this strategy without copying it? Or is imitation the only way to go?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pasta Batman
United States
Tustin
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
First, a couple of rule checks. There must be a least 8 capture points for an outlaw on the table for the bounty to be distributed. Also, a player must be within 4 points of the player with the most to share in the bounty. I'll assume you got these right.

The turtler is essentially leeching off of the other players' build up of the bounties, so it is important for the non-turtlers to quickly increase each of their outlaw melds beyond the turtler's reach, and not spread themselves too thin. If a non-turtler goes after too many outlaws, they'll find themselves sharing too much with the turtler, or even getting shut out themselves.

The turtler is partially hobbling themselves because they greatly limit their ability play the sheriff cards that increase the bounty/point value of melds (they have no where to put them, with the exception of a previously played photo card). Use those very same bounty & point sheriff cards to shut the turtler out of your bounties. Getting a meld down early gives you more opportunities to do this.

Realize that every sheriff card that you play (with the exception of the Wyatt Earp card) puts you one step closer to going out. It's like getting an extra discard, so don't miss a chance to play one. Again, getting a meld out early gives you more chances to do this. This quickly puts a lot of pressure on the turtler. Holding a big handful of cards hoping to go out in one fell swoop doesn't feel too smart when you notice your opponents only have a couple of cards left. Getting beat to the go-out and getting zero bounty would be devastating.

My general strategy, regardless of the presence of a turtle:

1. Be selfish. I'm always on the lookout to shut someone out of a bounty they've contributed to, as it means they will have spent actions and cards helping only me.

2. Be a leech. Try to share in big bounties by contributing the barest minimum points without getting shutout and without contributing much to the bounty in case you do.

Enjoy. It's a great and under-appreciated game.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't think you can play (for example) a Bank Robbery card unless you have at least one Outlaw card of the corresponding color already on the table. Thus, a strategy such as you describe seems likely to result in a hand full of Sheriff cards, which makes it impossible to go out in a rush.

I too love this game. I am one of its 11 BGG fans and have played it 66 times since I started recording plays.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pasta Batman
United States
Tustin
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
I just re-read your post, and want to respond specifically to this:
celiborn wrote:
Usually she can parasitize off of melds that other players have already played (thus allowing her to lay off single or double outlaw cards that would otherwise be unplayable). And the benefit of the rush is that she either overwhelms other players' melds (thus seizing all of the reward money) or muscles into a share of the reward money to minimize other people's gains.

I have a really hard time believing she can pull this off regularly, assuming you are following all the rules. For example, it would be tough to shut someone else out with a single laydown. Forgetting hideout cards for the moment, assume the other player had only the minimum three outlaw cards (6 points) melded. She would then have to laydown the remaining four cards for that outlaw (there are only seven in the deck) plus a photo card, for a total of 12 points, or a successful Fastest Gun for 11 points. Not easy.

Another rule check: Don't forget that Photo cards are sheriff cards! You can only play one sheriff card per turn. The Photo cards are a constant source of misplay. People will often attempt to open a meld with them by laying down only an additional two 2-pt outlaw cards (illegal, you must open with 3 2-pt outlaw cards), and/or attempt to play down a 2nd non-photo sheriff card (also illegal).
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Note that one commonly-played variant permits the play of a Photo on another player's turn when that player makes an initial meld in a color. This does not count toward your limit of one Sheriff card per turn.

My group always uses this variant.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pasta Batman
United States
Tustin
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
Eric Brosius wrote:
Note that one commonly-played variant permits the play of a Photo on another player's turn when that player makes an initial meld in a color. This does not count toward your limit of one Sheriff card per turn.

My group always uses this variant.

We use that variant too - add some depth to the game. This variant and using the Wyatt Earp card to immediately attempt to defend against a successful hideout card are the only two cases where a sheriff card can be played out of turn.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steven
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
pastabatman wrote:
I just re-read your post, and want to respond specifically to this:
celiborn wrote:
Usually she can parasitize off of melds that other players have already played (thus allowing her to lay off single or double outlaw cards that would otherwise be unplayable). And the benefit of the rush is that she either overwhelms other players' melds (thus seizing all of the reward money) or muscles into a share of the reward money to minimize other people's gains.

I have a really hard time believing she can pull this off regularly, assuming you are following all the rules. For example, it would be tough to shut someone else out with a single laydown. Forgetting hideout cards for the moment, assume the other player had only the minimum three outlaw cards (6 points) melded. She would then have to laydown the remaining four cards for that outlaw (there are only seven in the deck) plus a photo card, for a total of 12 points, or a successful Fastest Gun for 11 points. Not easy.

Another rule check: Don't forget that Photo cards are sheriff cards! You can only play one sheriff card per turn. The Photo cards are a constant source of misplay. People will often attempt to open a meld with them by laying down only an additional two 2-pt outlaw cards (illegal, you must open with 3 2-pt outlaw cards), and/or attempt to play down a 2nd non-photo sheriff card (also illegal).

You're right, I think I misspoke. What I mean is that she's able to seize unclaimed outlaws (usually with 3 outlaws + photo card), and then lays down just enough outlaw cards in other players' melds to share in the reward. That way she minimizes our gains while maximizing hers.

I think this earlier quote from you really captures what I've been doing wrong:
pastabatman wrote:

The turtler is essentially leeching off of the other players' build up of the bounties, so it is important for the non-turtlers to quickly increase each of their outlaw melds beyond the turtler's reach, and not spread themselves too thin. If a non-turtler goes after too many outlaws, they'll find themselves sharing too much with the turtler, or even getting shut out themselves.

In hindsight, I've almost always spread myself too thin: 6-7 CPs on two Outlaws, maybe 8-10 on another one or two. By trying to claim so many outlaws, I make it really easy for her to lay off her cards and steal my money. Whereas if I boosted just one or two outlaws up to 12 or something, she'd have a harder time catching up, plus she'd be unable to get rid of outlaw cards that I haven't played yet.

I feel like it's time for a rematch!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steven
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Eric Brosius wrote:
I don't think you can play (for example) a Bank Robbery card unless you have at least one Outlaw card of the corresponding color already on the table. Thus, a strategy such as you describe seems likely to result in a hand full of Sheriff cards, which makes it impossible to go out in a rush.

I too love this game. I am one of its 11 BGG fans and have played it 66 times since I started recording plays.

My wife would almost always discard a sheriff card. I think that's the only way her turtling strategy worked, since, as you point out, she can't otherwise get rid of them (except for the Most Wanted and Wyatt Earp cards).

I do love this game, far more than I had expected. I would just like to win every once in a while.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Green
United States
North Tonawanda
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You also may want to avoid ever discarding any outlaw cards that she'd be able to pick up.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alexander Corzo
United States
Pembroke Pines
Florida
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


I think this thread is the point of the variant suggested by Borg and Fitzgerald, that you allow the opposing players to immediately lay down a photo card out of turn. Now this turtling strategy is a lot harder to pull off.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alan Kwan
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I think this should be a valid strategy, as much as it is a valid strategy in Gin Rummy or Rummikub or such. By not laying down your cards, you run the major risk that, if another player goes out, you're stuck without a chance to play your cards, and you score nothing for them. It is a very good strategy when your cards are good enough that you think you can go out, but if an opponent suddenly lays down his hand and goes out, you score nothing. By closely observing the progress (plays and discards) of your opponents, you decide whether to stick to this strategy, or chicken out and play your sets so as to score some money when an opponent goes out before you - but the act ironically helps the opponents to go out by making their singles and pairs playable.

Why do people think one is obligated to play his cards as soon as he can? You should start a new color only when you fear that the game might end otherwise (with another player going out), or if it helps yourself (by enabling you to play a Photo or Bank Robbery, or letting an opponent play a 4th card to make enough CP). Otherwise, you're just helping your opponents.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pasta Batman
United States
Tustin
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
Alan Kwan wrote:
I think this should be a valid strategy ...

Do you mean the total-turtling strategy described by the OP?

Alan Kwan wrote:
Why do people think one is obligated to play his cards as soon as he can?

Did someone say that?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alan Kwan
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
pastabatman wrote:
Alan Kwan wrote:
I think this should be a valid strategy ...

Do you mean the total-turtling strategy described by the OP?

Yes, because the turtle runs the risk of scoring nothing at all if another player goes out before her. In other words, I do not believe that playing strictly that way is a winning strategy: if she goes out, she may score some more money than the others, but if another player goes out before her, she scores nothing at all. However, it is good and correct play when one thinks that he can go out - for example, when the other players all naively play their sets too prematurely, enabling her to easily get rid of singles and pairs.

Quote:
Alan Kwan wrote:
Why do people think one is obligated to play his cards as soon as he can?

Did someone say that?

Effectively yes. Otherwise, why question the turtling strategy at all? If one is not "obligated" to play his cards, what's wrong with not playing any?

There are many advantages to not playing your cards even when you can. The biggest reason to play your cards is so that, you score for them even when the game ends before your next chance to play them. Have you guys ever played Gin Rummy?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pasta Batman
United States
Tustin
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
Alan Kwan wrote:
pastabatman wrote:
Alan Kwan wrote:
I think this should be a valid strategy ...

Do you mean the total-turtling strategy described by the OP?

Yes, because the turtle runs the risk of scoring nothing at all if another player goes out before her. In other words, I do not believe that playing strictly that way is a winning strategy: if she goes out, she may score some more money than the others, but if another player goes out before her, she scores nothing at all. However, it is good and correct play when one thinks that he can go out - for example, when the other players all naively play their sets too prematurely, enabling her to easily get rid of singles and pairs.

Quote:
Alan Kwan wrote:
Why do people think one is obligated to play his cards as soon as he can?

Did someone say that?

Effectively yes. Otherwise, why question the turtling strategy at all? If one is not "obligated" to play his cards, what's wrong with not playing any?

There are many advantages to not playing your cards even when you can. The biggest reason to play your cards is so that, you score for them even when the game ends before your next chance to play them. Have you guys ever played Gin Rummy?

You seem to be mixing two different things - laying down nothing until your one & only laydown, vs delaying laying down certain melds. The latter is just normal strategy - laying down everything ASAP is just robotic play that will usually lose. The former is just dumb luck - if it comes your way, sure, go for it, but it's hardly a strategy, nor commonly acheivable. Re-read my posts above - I think you're discounting the value of sheriff cards too much.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brad Miller
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yeah, I used to play against someone who did this, and it was very effective. You can "Most Wanted" the hell out of them, but it still might not help enough.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alan Kwan
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
pastabatman wrote:
You seem to be mixing two different things - laying down nothing until your one & only laydown, vs delaying laying down certain melds. The latter is just normal strategy - laying down everything ASAP is just robotic play that will usually lose. The former is just dumb luck - if it comes your way, sure, go for it, but it's hardly a strategy, nor commonly acheivable.

It is commonly achievable. In a four-player game, there's a 25% chance that you'll be the one who can go out. And that chance is increased somewhat when you're laying down nothing while the other players are laying down new colors for you to leech off. And yet more if the others are playing poorly, like holding on to too many Sheriff cards.

The main reason why one wants to play his cards, especially "Wanted" cards in new colors, is because he wants to play (and score for) them before someone else ends the game. Thus, there are not many reasons why one wants to play some sets while holding others: if you're afraid that someone else might be going out soon, playing a new set makes that even more likely to happen (by enabling your opponents to play singles and pairs in that color), so why on earth should you lay down one set while withholding another?

There are a lot more ways for cards on the table to be "attacked" than cards in your hand. Thus it follows that it is a good strategy to hold cards in your hand unless you have a good reason to play them. Besides the blind "Most Wanted", the only way for cards in your hand to be attacked is to end the game before they are played. So if one is confident that he can go out, that eliminates one big reason for playing cards before his final turn.

Quote:
Re-read my posts above - I think you're discounting the value of sheriff cards too much.

From the topic starter's posts, it seems to me that he does mis-understood the point of the game. This is a Rummy game after all. Perhaps his "turtle" opponent is the only player at the table who has Gin Rummy experience?

Yes, there is the one-per-turn limit of Sheriff cards. They're great cards to play if an opponent has opened a color, and you're just following suit. But there are a number of reasons for why a playable Wanted card can be better than a Sheriff card. For example, compared to Bank Robbery, a Wanted card doesn't fail and doesn't count against your one-per-turn limit. Thus it is a reasonable strategy to collect Wanted cards and discard Sheriff cards - especially if your opponents are naively opening every color to let you play them easily.

The topic starter has only played three games. If the turtle is the only player who tends to discard Sheriff cards while the others discard Wanted cards lightly, I can see why she's winning every time!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pasta Batman
United States
Tustin
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
Alan Kwan wrote:
pastabatman wrote:
You seem to be mixing two different things - laying down nothing until your one & only laydown, vs delaying laying down certain melds. The latter is just normal strategy - laying down everything ASAP is just robotic play that will usually lose. The former is just dumb luck - if it comes your way, sure, go for it, but it's hardly a strategy, nor commonly acheivable.

It is commonly achievable. In a four-player game, there's a 25% chance that you'll be the one who can go out. And that chance is increased somewhat when you're laying down nothing while the other players are laying down new colors for you to leech off. And yet more if the others are playing poorly, like holding on to too many Sheriff cards.

You are confusing concepts again. 'Going out' is not the same as 'turtling', as it's been defined in this thread. Of course, only one person will go out first (I assume that is where your derive your '25%' claim above for 4p). That is quite different from one's chances going out in one fell swoop. I do agree, of course, that if your opponents are conveniently willing to lay down everything they can ASAP, once chances increase immensely of doing the big laydown. Fortunately my opponents are much more savvy.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steven
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ok, I should jump in. We've now played Wyatt Earp a few more times, and I've actually started winning! My problem before is that I didn't pay enough attention to what my wife was doing. So I was unwittingly helping her out by laying out weak melds. I now try my best to figure out what my wife has in her hand. Card counting (as much as possible) helps here.

I also try to have a plan for going out. The main realization here is that turtling is a fine strategy, but it's a slow one -- you're relying on your opponent to lay down melds of your color, and you have to get rid of your sheriff cards one at a time. If I play fairly aggressively --attacking her hand when possible, building up big CPs on my melded outlaws (so that I make more money), and focusing on only a few outlaws and getting rid of all the rest -- then I can almost always beat her in getting to the finish line.

That being said, my wife is starting to adjust to my game now too, so this is an evolving strategy on my part!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Anderson
New Zealand
Wellington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My girlfriend and I have been playing this 2 player and we naturally gravitated towards what is described in this thread as 'turtling'. We learnt that discarded Outlaw cards are often pounced on by the opponent. Early melds give information and opportunities to the opponent. So we tend to draw two, play a Wyatt Earp if possible to get 2 more (Most Wanted are sometimes used when out of Wyatt Earps) and then discard a Sheriff card (never Wyatt Earp and rarely a Photo card).

We don't meld less than 8CP unless going out (or someone has already started that Outlaw). There is a push-your-luck element in judging the time to start melding in order to get out before your opponent (you might need several turns to get out all the Photo cards you want to meld). Of course once the opponent has 'opened' an Outlaw you need to meld your own matching Outlaw cards (plus Sheriff cards) to try and prevent them getting the full reward.

There is a risk of one player going out while the other is holding 8-12 cards blush but it seems worth it in the longer run.

Our 2 player games are almost always 2 hand long, with each hand ending half way through the deck. Wyatt Earp cards are the most sort after Sheriff cards (to draw 2 more cards). Photo cards are next most popular, as a quick way to get 10 CP (which is usually enough for a clean sweep) or a way to catch up as the 'other' player. Most Wanted are a poor substitute for a Wyatt Earp, otherwise Sheriff cards are used as discards.

(Note we haven't tried the 'Photo card out of turn' variant)

I need to hook some other people on this game to see if the other Sheriff cards come into their own in the 3 and 4 player games.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.