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Subject: Untheming a Knizia: Yin Yang. rss

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Bruce Murphy
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This year, FRED is re-releasing Knizia’s Relationship Tightrope in a new relatively theme free edition titled Yin Yang. In particular, doing away with Überplay’s awful stereotyped relationship artwork is a step forward for this game, and I wonder whether many Knizia games wouldn’t be similarly improved by having the superfluous theme sandblasted off.



This new edition comes in a (new to me) double-card-deck sized tin box sporting the Gryphon logo. Replacing the awful Überplay art is the eastern Yin + Yang symbol of balance, a good choice since balance lies at the heart of this game.

Inside the box, rules, the player and scoring cards and a small pile of little cardboard tokens used to represent player imbalance towards the dark or light side. The small box works well, hopefully we’ll see more card games coming out in the Gryphon line.



The game is played in rounds 9 tricks to ‘win’ points as indicated on the score cards. Each round one of the 10 score cards is revealed revealed each around. Players in turn play one of the cards from their initial hand of 9 random card with values from 1-50.



Once each card has been played, the player who played the highest card receives the amount of black points shown on the score card and the person with the lowest played cards receives the white points.



When playing with more than two players, any players in the middle range escape unscathed. Players who have managed to collect both white and black tokens can return them in pairs and only keep tokens representing the imbalance. The player who played the highest card (and took the black tokens) begins the next round.

The round ends when 9 of the 10 scoring cards have been played, players consult their excesss token count and receive 1 point for each black or white token left over. If anyone manages to score 0 points, players with 1 or more received an extra 2 points penalty.

The game ends after each player has started one round and the winner is the player with the lowest total points wins the game.

The game is simple to explain and plays fast, but there’s an interesting amount of emergent behaviour and strategies that start to emerge as people play more rounds. With higher player counts, it’s easier to walk the middle path, but you can often end up running out of middle-of-the-road cards. There’s a lot of take-that style play from players deliberately under or overcutting a player who is clearly playing their most extreme card to get the

The game does have some randomness, mostly in the dealing of random hands. If you’re dealt a very skewed distribution of cards (we once saw 6 of 10 cards under 11), then you’re going to have to do something exciting. One option is to aggressively collect all the points of one type and then allow the other players to scramble for the scarce remaining whites while you grab some counteracting blacks. Of course, this can also go horribly wrong.

I think the most appealing feature of the game is that different value of winning and losing each trick to each player. All the interesting interactions come from deciding whether certain other players want to go high, or low, to seek the middle path, or perhaps to steal this card from you. This variable motivation is also why No Thanks! works so well.

There are a couple of variants listed in the rules. I highly recommend the suggestion of dealing 10 cards to each player (but still playing 9 tricks). This allows players to leave themselves a choice for the last round rather than a single forced card.

Yin Yang isn’t a deep multi-hour game, but it’s an interesting and highly interactive light card game that I can easily substitute for No Thanks! among casual players, or when we need something quick to pad out a space while waiting for another player. I’m delighted it’s available again without the silly art.
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Laszlo Molnar
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Quote:
I wonder whether many Knizia games wouldn’t be similarly improved by having the superfluous theme sandblasted off.

There is only one game where I felt that is really necessary. And it's Relationship Tightrope. Now I just have to decide which look do I like more: Yin yang or Fifty Fifty
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Laszlo Molnar
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By the way it seems to me there IS at least one significant difference between Yin Yang/Fifty-Fifty and Relationship Tightrope: in RT the cards had the same positive and negative points pictured (e.g. the highest card got 5 blue points while the lowest one had 5 pink points). Also it had 2 special cards (where only the highest/only the lowest did matter) - does RT have those?
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Steve K
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Oh, that's interesting...

In the original game (Drahtseilakt), you didn't use 9 of 10 scorecards. Instead, there were 9 scorecards plus two "eliminator" cards which (randomly) made the next score card unbalanced (eg 9/9 ==> 9/0).

I've never played Relationship Tightrope, so I've no idea when the original scoring was altered.

(in other words ... what Laszlo said.)
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Bruce Murphy
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lacxox wrote:
Quote:
I wonder whether many Knizia games wouldn’t be similarly improved by having the superfluous theme sandblasted off.

There is only one game where I felt that is really necessary. And it's Relationship Tightrope.


Let's be honest here, most Knizia themes are randomly pasted on afterwards. Is it a market, is it castle? Is it a beowulf?

B>
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Laszlo Molnar
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thepackrat wrote:
There is only one game where I felt that is really necessary. And it's Relationship Tightrope.
Let's be honest here, most Knizia themes are randomly pasted on afterwards. Is it a market, is it castle? Is it a beowulf? B>[/q]
I wouldn't say "most" but I agree "many". Still most of the time I'm happy to have the theme there, however thin it is. In case of Relationship Tightrope I had to lower my rating only because of the theme and look.
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thepackrat wrote:
The round ends when 9 of the 10 scoring cards have been played, players consult their excesss token count and receive 1 point for each black or white token left over. If anyone manages to score 0 points, players with 1 or more received an extra 2 points penalty.

This is different from the original game in a couple of ways. For one, all the balance cards are played out, though there are 0 cards that eliminate one end of the score cards. In addition, the numbers on all the cards are the same, both high and low. I wonder how it would play out with the numbers being different. Hrm.

Quote:
There’s a lot of take-that style play from players deliberately under or overcutting a player.

I don't know what the Yin Ying rules state, but Drahtseilakt has a variant where players do a simultaneous reveal. You could institute that variant rule to eliminate this sort of thing. Of course, that introduces some more chaos into it, but I prefer it that way.
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Bruce Murphy
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Verkisto wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
The round ends when 9 of the 10 scoring cards have been played, players consult their excesss token count and receive 1 point for each black or white token left over. If anyone manages to score 0 points, players with 1 or more received an extra 2 points penalty.

This is different from the original game in a couple of ways. For one, all the balance cards are played out, though there are 0 cards that eliminate one end of the score cards. In addition, the numbers on all the cards are the same, both high and low. I wonder how it would play out with the numbers being different. Hrm.

Very interestingly, because the lows and highs are mostly mixed together, so picking up a few low black points means that you have also missed your change to pick up the large white cards that would more easily balance it.
Quote:

Quote:
There’s a lot of take-that style play from players deliberately under or overcutting a player.

I don't know what the Yin Ying rules state, but Drahtseilakt has a variant where players do a simultaneous reveal. You could institute that variant rule to eliminate this sort of thing. Of course, that introduces some more chaos into it, but I prefer it that way.


If I wanted more chaos, I'd play a different game, something closer to Raj.

B>
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What, no ancient Egypt retheming? devil
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thepackrat wrote:
I wonder whether many Knizia games wouldn’t be similarly improved by having the superfluous theme sandblasted off.

Times Square.
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Bruce Murphy
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Leonardo wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
I wonder whether many Knizia games wouldn’t be similarly improved by having the superfluous theme sandblasted off.

Times Square.


At least the theme provides a mechanic for recalling the odd rules.

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Laszlo Molnar
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thepackrat wrote:
Leonardo wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
I wonder whether many Knizia games wouldn’t be similarly improved by having the superfluous theme sandblasted off.

Times Square.


At least the theme provides a mechanic for recalling the odd rules.

B>

I like the theme... the German theme.
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this looks playable now!!! meeple
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Leonardo Gonzalez
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lacxox wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
Leonardo wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
I wonder whether many Knizia games wouldn’t be similarly improved by having the superfluous theme sandblasted off.

Times Square.


At least the theme provides a mechanic for recalling the odd rules.

B>

I like the theme... the German theme.


I would prefer Times Square as an abstract instead of the its theme. I think Kosmos went too far rethemeing this game, its boring and doesnt fit.

Knizia was not happy with the change of theme done by Kosmos, sometimes the change of theme done by publishers helps moneywise other times it doesnt.This time it did not.
 
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Laszlo Molnar
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Leonardo wrote:
lacxox wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
Leonardo wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
I wonder whether many Knizia games wouldn’t be similarly improved by having the superfluous theme sandblasted off.

Times Square.


At least the theme provides a mechanic for recalling the odd rules.

B>

I like the theme... the German theme.


I would prefer Times Square as an abstract instead of the its theme. I think Kosmos went too far rethemeing this game, its boring and doesnt fit.

Knizia was not happy with the change of theme done by Kosmos, sometimes the change of theme done by publishers helps moneywise other times it doesnt.This time it did not.

So what was the original theme? To me the Auf der Reeperbahn theme does make sense. ?
 
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