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Subject: Cards in hand: public knowledge? rss

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Zach S
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So I was banging five of my friends last night, when something I've encountered several times in the past rose up before me:

A question.

See, during all this banging, someone panicked (which, during a six-man bang session, is as understandable as it is common). As a result of this panic, the player wanted to take someone's hand (because it's sort of like cuddling, I guess), but didn't know enough about everyone's hand to know which would be the best to take. So the question was asked:

"How many cards are in your hand?"

Followed by the response I've heard so many times before:

"Do I have to tell you?"

Now, I have a manual instructing me how to bang (which is good, 'cause I'd be lost without it), but I had a feeling it wouldn't help in this situation. So I went with my usual thoughts on the matter:

"The number of cards in a player's hand is public knowledge."

This is what I do for every game I play (regardless of how much banging is involved), unless the rules specifically state otherwise.

I was just wondering: how do you BGGers handle this sort of thing? I think the reason I go with the "public knowledge" ruling is because I used to be a pretty big CCG player, and--well, come to think of it, I'm not sure you had to tell your opponent your hand size in those games, either. But I think you did.

Anyway, I just feel that games should be more about strategy, and less about who's better at concealing their cards under the table or in the litter box.

Thoughts?
 
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I always go with "public knowledge" unless there is something clearly stated or implied in the rules on the subject.

I have usually found that those who argue against "public knowledge" are looking for any possible edge that they can find. It usually feels like a munchkinly move, and against the spirit of almost any game.
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Russ Williams
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It's not at all so clear to me. If the rules say your hand is secret, I'm not sure why the number of cards should be assumed public. I would assume in the absence of any explicit statement in the rules that the number of cards in player's hands is secret in a game with secret hands. And that's not at all based on some "munchkinly" desire to get an "edge", since I am bad at remembering that kind of thing, and all else being equally, I tend to prefer games without memory or hidden information.

Even if the game is such that the number of cards you acquire and play is all public and thus trackable, that doesn't imply the designer meant your current number of cards to be public. E.g. many games like Power Grid have public trackable money transactions, yet your current cash is intentionally not public.
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True, I can see the arguments for going with secret hand sizes, too.

When I described a "munchkinly" desire to get an "edge", I'm referring to players who suddenly decide in-game that they have to hide their hand size. It always seems to happen at the moment where they're feeling like they're losing, when things have turned against them, after a run of good moves (or good luck) by the opponents. That same knowledge could have helped them earlier, but they didn't bother with it back when things looked good. But that's just my experience.

On that note, I strongly dislike games with trackable-but-secret elements (such as Power Grid's money or Puerto Rico's VP tokens). I've never seen a good reason behind that design choice. Of course, those are at least explicit in the rules.

Edit: While I'm thinking about it... how about games with a hand-size limit? I would call that a clear (but implicit) rule requiring public hand size knowledge. However, I've never seen that explicitly stated in the rules of such games.
 
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Alazzar wrote:
[...]I used to be a pretty big CCG player, and--well, come to think of it, I'm not sure you had to tell your opponent your hand size in those games, either. But I think you did.

I can confirm that you must allow your opponent to count your cards in hand in Magic.

Magic: The Gathering Comprehensive Rules wrote:
402.3. A player may arrange his or her hand in any convenient fashion and look at it as much as he or she wishes. A player can't look at the cards in another player's hand but may count those cards at any time.


Interestingly, also:
Magic: The Gathering Comprehensive Rules wrote:
401.3. Any player may count the number of cards remaining in any player's library at any time.


My opinion is that these are wise rules. The alternative leads to a lot of physical posturing with the cards and may even confer a gameplay advantage on those with particularly acute eyesight.
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The way I do things now is if something is trackable with a pencil and paper, it's public knowledge. This includes size of hands, money in Power Grid, your entire hand (sans dev cards) in Settlers, etc.
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Derry Salewski
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dcclark wrote:
True, I can see the arguments for going with secret hand sizes, too.

When I described a "munchkinly" desire to get an "edge", I'm referring to players who suddenly decide in-game that they have to hide their hand size. It always seems to happen at the moment where they're feeling like they're losing, when things have turned against them, after a run of good moves (or good luck) by the opponents. That same knowledge could have helped them earlier, but they didn't bother with it back when things looked good. But that's just my experience.

On that note, I strongly dislike games with trackable-but-secret elements (such as Power Grid's money or Puerto Rico's VP tokens). I've never seen a good reason behind that design choice. Of course, those are at least explicit in the rules.

Edit: While I'm thinking about it... how about games with a hand-size limit? I would call that a clear (but implicit) rule requiring public hand size knowledge. However, I've never seen that explicitly stated in the rules of such games.


I think when a game describes a hand of cards, it's an implied bunch of cards, kept in one's hand, so that they can be viewed by that person, and thus the backs of them should be seen by the rest of the players. I'm sure it's having grown up playing traditional card games/gambling games, and then ccgs, but for me the assumption would be that cards need to be there for the other players to know how many you have.

I'm sure the original idea was not to get shot by some guy in a saloon, but it's still nice to know that no one is cheating.
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Russ Williams
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dcclark wrote:
Edit: While I'm thinking about it... how about games with a hand-size limit? I would call that a clear (but implicit) rule requiring public hand size knowledge. However, I've never seen that explicitly stated in the rules of such games.

I wouldn't say that a hand size limit in any way implies that the number of cards is public. Many games with secret knowledge require trust in the honesty and competence of the players.

E.g. in Friedrich there are certain situations where you have to play a card if you have a certain suit. But you are not required to show your hand to prove you don't have the suit if you don't have it and thus don't play a card. And you keep track of how many armies are with each of your generals on paper. There is a maximum total limit of armies each nation can have, but you are certainly not required to show your written army notes.
 
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russ wrote:
I wouldn't say that a hand size limit in any way implies that the number of cards is public. Many games with secret knowledge require trust in the honesty and competence of the players.

E.g. in Friedrich there are certain situations where you have to play a card if you have a certain suit. But you are not required to show your hand to prove you don't have the suit if you don't have it and thus don't play a card. And you keep track of how many armies are with each of your generals on paper. There is a maximum total limit of armies each nation can have, but you are certainly not required to show your written army notes.


True, trust comes into it. Even playing good old Euchre (or many other traditional trick-taking games) requires trust that the player has done things right, without proof. Of course, if they do screw up, it becomes clear later when a player plays a card that they should have played long ago, under the rules -- and usually they are strongly penalized for it.

In a similar way, when playing with experienced Dominion players, I rarely bother to check that they have correctly added up their coins before buying something. However, I believe that I would be justified (within the rules) to ask what their total coin count is, if I wanted to (especially if something seemed amiss -- perhaps I thought they had mis-counted).

Of course, that's a bit off of the initial topic, but it seems to be a similar idea.
 
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Brandon M
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I think someone who tries to hide their hand size in BANG! is taking the game a little too seriously.

I agree that since there is a hand size limit the information should be public. I don't agree that this is comparable to a situation where a player would have to reveal the contents of their hand to prove they're complying with the rules. The impact of revealing your hand is much greater than revealing the number of cards in your hand. Allowing you to keep that information secret is a concession that the designer had to make; I don't see it as the norm. Prohibiting players from hiding information that is necessary to prove that they're following the rules should be the norm with exceptions made when necessary.
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Evgeny Reznikov
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mdean wrote:
The way I do things now is if something is trackable with a pencil and paper, it's public knowledge. This includes size of hands, money in Power Grid, your entire hand (sans dev cards) in Settlers, etc.

Your hand is not trackable if you have been robbed at least once, since the draw is random, and the drawing player is not obligated to share the information in any way.
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Tom Javoroski
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azuredarkness wrote:
mdean wrote:
The way I do things now is if something is trackable with a pencil and paper, it's public knowledge. This includes size of hands, money in Power Grid, your entire hand (sans dev cards) in Settlers, etc.

Your hand is not trackable if you have been robbed at least once, since the draw is random, and the drawing player is not obligated to share the information in any way.


Good points. My reply is that you are certainly free to try to track my hand with pad and pencil or memory, but that doesn't mean I have to help you by giving up that information. It's like card counting in poker/blackjack. A good card counter can determine all sorts of things that no one else is required to volunteer.
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norman rule
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mdean wrote:
The way I do things now is if something is trackable with a pencil and paper, it's public knowledge. This includes size of hands, money in Power Grid, your entire hand (sans dev cards) in Settlers, etc.


I would disagree about money in PG.

The rules specifically state that money is hidden. Unless you can show a good reason why you SHOULD know how much money I have, I'm not going to tell you... and I'm not going to play with you if you break out pencil and paper to track it. (Stupid fluorescent money making that REALLY easy to judge, notwithstanding.)

The same applies to any game with explicitly hidden resources, money or victory points. Show me a GOOD reason why it should be public knowledge and I'll be happy to discuss it. But "I would know if I tracked it by pencil and paper" isn't a good enough reason, IMHO.

As for your hand in Settlers... Can't comment on that, as we don't play.

Just my 2
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mrorwell wrote:
mdean wrote:
The way I do things now is if something is trackable with a pencil and paper, it's public knowledge. This includes size of hands, money in Power Grid, your entire hand (sans dev cards) in Settlers, etc.


I would disagree about money in PG.

The rules specifically state that money is hidden. Unless you can show a good reason why you SHOULD know how much money I have, I'm not going to tell you... and I'm not going to play with you if you break out pencil and paper to track it. (Stupid fluorescent money making that REALLY easy to judge, notwithstanding.)

The same applies to any game with explicitly hidden resources, money or victory points. Show me a GOOD reason why it should be public knowledge and I'll be happy to discuss it. But "I would know if I tracked it by pencil and paper" isn't a good enough reason, IMHO.

As for your hand in Settlers... Can't comment on that, as we don't play.

Just my 2:gg:


I'm the opposite unless a game explicitly says not to or its obvious from the mechanics. If someone can work it out by legal card counting then why not say? It seems more like meta gaming which I dislike by disallowing it. Of course it all depends on the game and the group. Like making informal alliances or agreements its not really something rules should cover unless it affects the game outside the designers intentions.
 
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McDog
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You were banging 5 of your friends?


Oh to be young again.
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norman rule
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Halfinger wrote:
I'm the opposite unless a game explicitly says not to


Aren't we agreeing? If the game says "keep money hidden," then you keep your money hidden.

Money in St. Petersburg, shipping points in Puerto Rico... There are lots of games where the designer made the decision that hidden information makes the game play better. I would assume that the game was playtested with hidden and public information and they chose hidden information for a reason.
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Xander Fulton
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mrorwell wrote:
Unless you can show a good reason why you SHOULD know how much money I have, I'm not going to tell you... and I'm not going to play with you if you break out pencil and paper to track it.


What, really?

Would you not play with someone if they just have a really good memory?

What if they are just better at planning than you? Won't play with them, either?

Or how about people that just win against you more often than lose? Don't play with them, either?
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Timothy Wheeler
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Alazzar wrote:
So I was banging five of my friends last night, when something I've encountered several times in the past rose up before me:

A question.

See, during all this banging, someone panicked (which, during a six-man bang session, is as understandable as it is common). As a result of this panic, the player wanted to take someone's hand (because it's sort of like cuddling, I guess), but didn't know enough about everyone's hand to know which would be the best to take. So the question was asked:

"How many cards are in your hand?"

Followed by the response I've heard so many times before:

"Do I have to tell you?"

Now, I have a manual instructing me how to bang (which is good, 'cause I'd be lost without it), but I had a feeling it wouldn't help in this situation. So I went with my usual thoughts on the matter:

"The number of cards in a player's hand is public knowledge."

This is what I do for every game I play (regardless of how much banging is involved), unless the rules specifically state otherwise.

I was just wondering: how do you BGGers handle this sort of thing? I think the reason I go with the "public knowledge" ruling is because I used to be a pretty big CCG player, and--well, come to think of it, I'm not sure you had to tell your opponent your hand size in those games, either. But I think you did.

Anyway, I just feel that games should be more about strategy, and less about who's better at concealing their cards under the table or in the litter box.

Thoughts?


Off Topic: My mind pulled a perv while reading your post, bad mind.

Secondly, I play Yu-Gi-Oh. In YuGiOh, the number of cards in your hand is always public knowledge. What isn't public knowledge is what cards are in your hand. This is mostly done to prevent cheating since there is a 7 card limit (I believe) on how may cards you can have in your hand at the end of the turn when it comes to YuGiOh, as well as card effects that happen when you or your opponent have a certain number of cards in your hands.

In short:
Number of Cards - Public Knowledge
What Cards - Not Public Knowledge


I'm not sure how it goes for other card games, but that's how it's done in the tournament.
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XanderF wrote:
What, really?

Would you not play with someone if they just have a really good memory?

What if they are just better at planning than you? Won't play with them, either?

Or how about people that just win against you more often than lose? Don't play with them, either?


First, why did you leave off the first line of the paragraph? It was "The rules specifically state that money is hidden," and we were talking about Power Grid.

I stand by what I said. If the RULES say that money is hidden, I'm not going to tell you how much I have and I'm not going to play with you if you're using a mechanical aid to track it. At the very least, that violates the spirit of the hidden money rule.

Second, how do your counter examples even apply? You're talking about natural ability, I'm talking about someone using pencil and paper.
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I have always assumed the number of cards in hand is public by default (i.e. unless the rules state otherwise). I have played with many different groups, and although there has been occasional questions from newbies, this has always been the norm. I thought it was a consensus.
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azuredarkness wrote:
mdean wrote:
The way I do things now is if something is trackable with a pencil and paper, it's public knowledge. This includes size of hands, money in Power Grid, your entire hand (sans dev cards) in Settlers, etc.

Your hand is not trackable if you have been robbed at least once, since the draw is random, and the drawing player is not obligated to share the information in any way.

Also in Settlers, some deals are not trackable by others. E.g. "I'll give you a brick if you give me a wood and some other card of your choice".
 
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Kevin C.
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Quote:
I can confirm that you must allow your opponent to count your cards in hand in Magic.


My buddy is a Vintage and Legacy player. We cube every once and awhile for fun. (I'm a horrible player, so it is just practice for him.)

Whenever he plays an "Opponent must reveal hand" card, he asks that I keep those cards face-up on the table and not pick them back up in my hand. It seems this is pretty standard practice and he has seen it done in many sanctioned tournaments. (The idea behind it being that once you've seen those cards, you should always know what the are.)

What's more, he says that he has seen people refuse to play this way, so their opponent whips out a pen and paper and writes them down. Again, this is done at sanctioned tournaments, so it seems to be ok with judges and WOTC.

The pen and paper thing has come up more generally from time to time here on BGG and it seems to a group thing rather than a principle. Some people feel that the added memory issue is too much, so if someone wants to use a paper, that is fine. Others think is changes the game and takes out a feature that the designer may have wanted in there.

I usually don't mind at all if someone does it. I don't do it, but I have a fairly decent memory. I imagine this view scales with how competetive one views the game. (The obviousl exception would be if I am expressly playing a memory game, like Dawn Under. Using a scratchpad would defeat the entire mechanic of that game.)

Kevin
 
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natsean wrote:
Quote:
I can confirm that you must allow your opponent to count your cards in hand in Magic.


My buddy is a Vintage and Legacy player. We cube every once and awhile for fun. (I'm a horrible player, so it is just practice for him.)

Whenever he plays an "Opponent must reveal hand" card, he asks that I keep those cards face-up on the table and not pick them back up in my hand. It seems this is pretty standard practice and he has seen it done in many sanctioned tournaments. (The idea behind it being that once you've seen those cards, you should always know what the are.)

What's more, he says that he has seen people refuse to play this way, so their opponent whips out a pen and paper and writes them down. Again, this is done at sanctioned tournaments, so it seems to be ok with judges and WOTC.

The pen and paper thing has come up more generally from time to time here on BGG and it seems to a group thing rather than a principle. Some people feel that the added memory issue is too much, so if someone wants to use a paper, that is fine. Others think is changes the game and takes out a feature that the designer may have wanted in there.

I usually don't mind at all if someone does it. I don't do it, but I have a fairly decent memory. I imagine this view scales with how competetive one views the game. (The obviousl exception would be if I am expressly playing a memory game, like Dawn Under. Using a scratchpad would defeat the entire mechanic of that game.)

Kevin


I play a lot of Magic and this WOULD NOT be legal in a tournament. Laying the cards face up on the table would lead to a confused game state. A judge should be able to come and look at your game and have a pretty good idea what is going on. Seeing a hand of cards on the table with things like instants that cannot be in play would not be allowed. It would make for easy cheating. OH, look now I have this land in play instead of in my hand where it is supposed to be. Oops, is this creature in play or in my hand?

Just to clarify:
You are allowed to write things down on a sheet of paper. Any notes that you take in a round are not allowed in following rounds as that is considered outside help. Each round is supposed to be independent of each other.
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A. Marquis
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I agree with da OP.
 
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Also in agreement with the OP. In several games I've played there are rules for hidden VP and/or money (which in most cases is also the "VP" of the game). But hidden hand size? Can't say I know any. Catan was mentioned, but even there hand size should be public knowledge because the robber comes around often enough and forces discards for large hands.
 
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