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Subject: More democratic Parliament (well, sort of) rss

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Conan Meriadoc
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I'm considering the following variations on the rules of Cuba :

1/ Several characters in parliament each turn

Each action round consists of either :
- Playing a character face up for his/her action or alternative action, or
- Playing a character face down to send him/her to parliament.

There is no limit to the number of characters a player sends to parliament on a given turn. Option a) A player can decide not to send anyone, but cannot add money to tip the scales if he does. Option b) At least one character has to go to parliament each turn.

The second option probably doesn't change much from the regular game, but still... It may be a personal thing, but the politics part feels less constrained to me that way. Do you think it would break the game ? Would you allow a) ? (I'm a bit more wary on the impacts of this one)


2/ Making the parliament more participative

... and lessening the "blind bet" aspect of buying votes

In the rules as written, a difference of one or two pesos during the "corruption" bet can turn the game one side or another, as the elected player decides all the laws for this round, and the second player gets nothing for the money spent. While this is not inconsistent with the political climate of the times, I'm wondering if someone already tried more democratic processes, as appropriate for a parliament.

I'm considering several possibilities here :

- A Yes/No approval process for each of the four cards; for each law, in turn, the players assign their votes + money spent for or against the law, then the votes are totalled. In this scenario, all four laws available on one turn could pass, none, or anything in between. Could maybe restrict the options available as a side effect, by making more extreme/specific laws harder to pass and maintain; then again, I never was a fan of the water strategy, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea.

- The player with the most votes first selects a law and passes it (or vetoes one and discards it), then everyone votes for the second law between the three choices left (or two, if the church was activated; add all the votes on each card together)

- Same as above, but allowing players to negociate other players'votes for a price, adding a layer of diplomacy, and probably a few additional minutes of playing time. Appreciation of this one would mostly depend on the style of players, but my friends usually don't mind this kind of interaction.


Please keep in mind that I'm not trying to fix anything (I like the game as is), I'm just considering other options. I would tend to think that the designers did consider these options while creating the game, but decided to go the simpler and faster way, to keep the turns quite short; Anyway, I'd like to give it a go and see how it turns out.

Do you think any / all of these changes would unbalance the game ? Any kind of advice is welcome.
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Clem Fandango
New Zealand
WELLINGTON
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I'll read this through later but in my mind Parliament is the biggest weakness in Cuba so I'm keen to read your email in depth
 
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Steve Duff
Canada
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Dystopian wrote:
as the elected player decides all the laws for this round, and the second player gets nothing for the money spent.


Hmm, think we may have played that wrong last time.

Interesting ideas, I particularly like the idea of putting multiple characters towards votes as an alternative to just adding money. I think it's important to always send one, though.

The rest I'm not so keen on. I think the winner should get to choose two acts, and only two should come into play.

There's a balancing act of giving up shipping points in order to get votes, I'm not sure you want to change that too much.
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Paulo Santoro
Brazil
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That is what I was looking for.

I think we shouldn't make big changes in a game, because it was certainly tested a lot. So I wouldn't touch in things like the amount of laws passed each round (2, no more no less).

What I like:

"The player with the most votes first selects a law and passes it (or vetoes one and discards it)"

I think this is strong enough to the player who won in card+bidding, and it is consistent with the spirit of the rules (unlike the more "democratic" variant options). After that, the second player (card+bidding) can choose the other law (or both, if the first just vetoed).
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Conan Meriadoc
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Thanks for your advice. I agree with the points you both make, and I know there's a fine line between tailoring a game to your personal taste and breaking the game by making a strategy vastly superior to another.

I just feel that with the rules as written, running for parliament is a long shot attempt that can be quite costly (forgoing your mayor/foreman action and spending some money) for an unpredictable all-or-nothing result. Whether due to miscalculations or blind chance, losing an election puts you in a very unfavorable position compared to oher players.

On one hand, it might not require a fix, as this effect might be mitigated by experience. Risky political conflicts should be carefully avoided unless you're certain to win (or you can afford to keep high pressure on would-be lawmakers with a steady cash flow), thus leading to reduced competition for votes and in turn less "wasted" money.

On the other hand, there will always be some games where the outcome will depend solely on whether a player bids four pesos instead of five when trying to pass a critical act. In a Euro game with otherwise almost no luck, this feels strangely out of place.

A house rule on this would have to be more forgiving for players who did not win the bet, to keep about the same incentive to send strong characters to Parliament and invest in politics, and, as a bonus, could be fun to play (varies with your mileage; some players immensely enjoy discussing and voting, others find it unnecessary)

Paulo's variant seems pretty close to what I'm seeking :
- There still is an incentive to have the most votes, to get the first pick
- The second player has a margin of control over the acts
- Investing in politics is slightly less rewarding (you rarely choose both laws), but less risky as well, which should keep the balance
- Still two acts a turn, should keep the game flowing similarly


There are still a few things that bother me, however :
- When the Church is used, the first player can choose two laws (by discarding the third one) and the loser doesn't get anything. Well, I guess it's his fault for not building the church or the town hall in the first place.
- I can't find a thematic reason for the second player to choose laws (opposition leader?). For that unreasonable reason, I might still try a majority vote for the second act instead, and I'll see if my friends enjoy it.

Thanks to both of you!
 
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Paulo Santoro
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Very good points, Conan.

About the Church: yes, it's true. But you see, when Church is used and one law is discarded, the power of the winner himself is shortened anyway. So the players will have less incentive to spend money on this and then there won't be the effect you describe by saying "losing an election puts you in a very unfavorable position compared to other players". Another point: when church is used, probably it's another player who will win the auction, so anyway there will be 2 players handle with the laws, which is our very intention when creating this variant! Unless, of course, one player has and activate the church AND win by bidding, but in this case he deserves the privilege.

A thematic reason? But what would be the thematic reason for a majority voting? And don't you think that would be inconsistent the mix of one winner plus a majority? Also, are the original rules really thematic, with one guy deciding everything? Isn't weird that you bribe, lose the money and eventually don't get the stuff? A game is always an approach, even the extreme "simulation" games, which Cuba is not. So I think it's better keep the game almost the same and choose only this subtle change I proposed (using Conan idea): the winner passes one law or vetoes one law; the second (if still able too - remember the Church) passes another.
 
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Conan Meriadoc
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Sounds fair to me, I am convinced. Just a thing, how do you think you would handle ties for the second place ?
 
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Adam K
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A second place tie should immediately get resolved by either victory points or being the "firstest" player.
 
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