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London (first edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: The Ben-Luca 2 player variant rss

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Steve Duff
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Rules:

1) • No face up identical cards are allowed in a single player's city display. Building a card, flipping it, then building the same card again later is allowed. This was Ben's suggestion.

2) • When a player expends a card forcing a clearing of a row in the card display, that player places a neutral marker of a third colour in an eligible empty city borough of their choice. All normal rules still apply when doing this, adjacency must be respected, if it is the first borough on the board one of starting boroughs must be chosen, etc. The appropriate number of cards based on that borough are drawn from the deck and immediately discarded. This was suggested by Luca. (edit: Actually, as Ender discovered, it appears to have been suggested by Kim Zen)

• If all the boroughs are occupied, draw and discard 4 cards from the deck each time the card display is cleared.

Questions:

Q: Are the cards drawn and discarded known to the players?
A: Play it however your group wishes. Draw and reveal them to all, or just place them as a group on the discard pile.

Q: What's an identical card?
A: An identical card has the exact same name and function. Thus, having 'Bridge' and 'Tower Bridge' face up in your display is legal since the names are different.

Q: Can an Underground token be placed in a neutral borough?
A: Absolutely. All Underground rules in the original rules apply.



We tried this tonight, and I thought it worked really well, much better than the rules as written. We ended up with 7 boroughs each, and the neutral player had 6. The quantity and timing on this are very nice, as rather than an automatic "X buys a borough, you get an automatic neutral, the neutral always has 10 boroughs to the player's 5", you get a variation in the game. Boroughs get occupied at differing times during the game, and depending on how you play, the number of neutrals will vary. Some games you might end up with a lot neutrals, others a small number.
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Wim van Gruisen
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Thank you for telling how that worked. I will try it out next time my wife and I play London.
UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
No face up duplicate buildings allowed in a single player's city display. Building something, flipping it, then building the same card again later is allowed. This was Ben's suggestion.

I wondered about that. The main use seems to be to prevent a player with two omnibuses dominating the game. How would a modification of the rule work?
Instead of 'no duplicate buildings allowed' change it to 'no duplicate buildings can be activated in the same run'. It gives players more options but still prevents the degenerate use of omnibuses or other cards.
 
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Wim van Gruisen
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Oh, one question: how many times did you play it? If just once, how representative was it? For instance, did the situation pop up where Ben's rule came into effect?
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Steve Duff
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We've just played it the once. But Ben has played it multiple times, I believe.

We did have the rule come into effect multiple times. My wife wanted both Omnibuses, tried to discard one and flush it off the board, but it didn't work. I had multiple Sewers and Train Stations that the rule made me work to get into play.

I think allowing you to build duplicates, but not run them would make it too easy to deal with the multiple issue. You'd just build both Omnibuses on top of each other, or build multiples anyway.
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Ben
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Whymme wrote:
Instead of 'no duplicate buildings allowed' change it to 'no duplicate buildings can be activated in the same run'. It gives players more options but still prevents the degenerate use of omnibuses or other cards.

One of the things that I like about having the restriction on building duplicates (as opposed to just on running them) is that it increases the interaction in the card display and has generally resulted in more poverty management. Since you can't simply build the cards you like and discard the ones you don't, you either have to leave a card you like out there for an opponent, or (more commonly) hold cards for later, which means incurring both poverty while running your city and some decrease in build efficiency

I've played the game a few times now with that one rule change and have really enjoyed the game more. I haven't posted the variant myself, however, because I hadn't played enough to be confident there are no negative side effects (the most likely is a weakening of no-flip strategies). Personally, I would never go back to playing the normal way in a 2-player game.
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Wim van Gruisen
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chally wrote:

One of the things that I like about having the restriction on building duplicates (as opposed to just on running them) is that it increases the interaction in the card display and has generally resulted in more poverty management. Since you can't simply build the cards you like and discard the ones you don't, you either have to leave a card you like out there for an opponent, or (more commonly) hold cards for later, which means incurring both poverty while running your city and some decrease in build efficiency.

OK. I haven't played enough two player games to test (and won't be able to in the future), so I'll go with your experience. My thought was that allowing to build duplicates, but not run them, creates less efficient cities. Poverty management is still there; the card not used is now in a non-working stack instead of in your hand and still gives you poverty points. Cities would tend to go slightly larger.

OTOH, I see how interaction via the card display increases when you simply cannot build duplicates. And that combines nicely with Luca's rule. Next time my wife and I play the game, I'll try it out. And try to remember to report back here.

One last question: train stations. The 'Train Station' (north) and 'Train Station' (south) cards have the same name. Are they considered duplicates?
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Steve Duff
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We considered those duplicates, with the identical name. Generally, it's unlikely you'd want both, anyway .

Things like Bridge and Tower Bridge were allowed, different names, identical functions.

Changing my mind on this, a duplicate would be a card with the same name and the same function. So Train (North) is clearly different from Train (South).
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Tom Shields
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Ten games of London here, four with Ben's variant. I haven't tried the Luca borough/card ghost player in 2-player because I prefer the quality of 2-player London; ie: slowing the game & seeing more cards fleshes out the game with the increased control, and I like how it differentiates from the 3- & 4-player counts. No issues with length here.

I've played with Ben's variant at 2- & 3-player counts, and felt the game improved. At worst it eliminates any thought of anyone 'chasing the omnibus flop,' or even talking about it (thank goodness), at best it tightens up the game & feels thematically graceful. I'll keep playing that way & suspect it'll stay, but I'm hesitant to draw a set conclusion for a while.

At 4-player it worked fine, but I haven't decided if it's necessary or wanted at that count yet.

I can see the attraction in reducing the boroughs but IMO I can't accept removing so many card out of the game and the whole ghost player idea doesn't feel graceful or necessary. Or I'm just greedy for the additional opportunities in 2-p!
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Steve Duff
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tjshields wrote:
I prefer the quality of 2-player London; ie: slowing the game & seeing more cards fleshes out the game with the increased control


That's why I think Luca's suggestion is so good: it follows the player pacing. If they slow the game, the neutral slows as well, and few or no cards get discarded. When they speed up and want to get through the deck, the neutral follows along, contributing to this.

I'd appreciate it if you could try it some time, as the more feedback we get on this the better.
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
tjshields wrote:
I prefer the quality of 2-player London; ie: slowing the game & seeing more cards fleshes out the game with the increased control


That's why I think Luca's suggestion is so good: it follows the player pacing. If they slow the game, the neutral slows as well, and few or no cards get discarded. When they speed up and want to get through the deck, the neutral follows along, contributing to this.

I'd appreciate it if you could try it some time, as they more feedback we get on this the better.

Those both sound great. I look forward to trying them out with my next 2P game. Thanks for posting, Steve.
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Wim van Gruisen
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Just an idea ...
UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
2) When a player expends a card forcing a clearing of a row in the card display, that player places a neutral marker of a third colour in a city borough of their choice. The appropriate number of cards based on that borough are drawn from the deck and immediately discarded. This was suggested by Luca.

Interestingly enough, the board allows a simple memory aid. You can put those neutral markers on the places for the fourth and fifth cards. Remove the cards in a row, and you see those markers lying beside them.
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Rich Chamberlain
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Just to add to this variant's discussion...

I tried it yesterday. The blocking of districts everytime the display cleared worked great. In the end we had 7 boroughs each which felt better. However the poverty was still very low (I lost the posvety race with 3 black cubes) and the game was long - we both felt it outstayed its welcome.

I will be trying the variant posted by Finbar Swift next. I had the same though about reoving cards so I was delighted to find someone had done the sums.

R.
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Ben
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itchyrichy wrote:
...the game was long - we both felt it outstayed its welcome.

Thanks for the feedback. Would you mind sharing how long your game ran?

My first play of London (with two players) felt excrutiatingly long (my wife described it as "soul crushing"). Now that I'm more familiar with the game and its nuaunces, the tedious parts have sped up and I've come to really enjoy the pacing of the two-player game. Anything shorter than the intended 90-minute play time would detract from the game in my opinion (one of the reasons I don't use any card-discarding variants).
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I really would like to know what Martin Wallace thinks of these variants. I usually don't like house rules and put faith in the designer, but with Wallace never making 2 player games and hesitating a bit when he says it worked "reasonably well" with 2 players, it makes me think a small fix may actually tune up the game to his original 3-4 player standards. Any plans to contact him about it?
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Jose Negron
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Has anyone tried both variants at the same time?
 
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Steve Duff
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boricua1111 wrote:
Has anyone tried both variants at the same time?


Which two? The two in my original post?

If so, yes, that's the point. You play both rules, they work excellently.
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Great variant and great thread, kudos to Steve Duff for getting the ball rolling.

What is the exact origin of the second part of the variant, which is credited here to Luca as follows?
UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
2) When a player expends a card forcing a clearing of a row in the card display, that player places a neutral marker of a third colour in a city borough of their choice. The appropriate number of cards based on that borough are drawn from the deck and immediately discarded. This was suggested by Luca.

The link goes to a post from a Luca Casagrande (doktoreas), and that post certainly isn't relevant as source material for the variant. There is however this post by Luca Iennaco (Luke the Flaming) which makes a suggestion along these lines:
Luke the Flaming wrote:
Untested variant to make the 2-player game a bit shorter and less "poverty free" (you need the tokens of a third "neutral" colour): whenever a player buys a district, the neutral colour also gets one (following normal adjacency rules) chosen by the active player; the cards that would be drawn by buying such district are instead taken from the top of the deck and put directly into the discard pile (not onto the display).
This should give access to about 5 districts per player (as in a 4-player game), making harder to "run the city" with no resulting poverty. It also removes some cards at random making the game shorter (somewhat trying to simulate the cards that your other two opponents in a 4-player game would draw and build).

However note that his suggestion is that the dummy player gets a borough whenever one of the players buys one a borough - this means that in most cases players will never get the chance to own more than 5 boroughs, which is likely fewer than desirable for a two player game. Furthermore, it's different from Steve's original post, which mentions giving the dummy player a borough whenever a row in the card display needs to be discarded. Where does this latter idea originate from? I couldn't find a post from Luca about this, and the first time I could find it mentioned is in this post by Kim Zen (mezzoforte):
mezzoforte wrote:
Another suggestion (not tested)

Dummy player buys a borough when the first line of card display is removed.

I'm just trying to track down the original source of the second part of Steve Duff's suggestion - if Kim Zen is a partial source, should this be considered the Luca-Zen variant? Unless of course Steve came up with it independently, as a modification of Luca Iennaco's (Luke the Flaming) original suggestion, or that Luca suggested this somewhere else?
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Steve Duff
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Hmm. I thought I had attributed it all correctly, but it certainly doesn't seem that way now.

It was definitely a forum post that gave me the idea, it does appear that Kim Zen was the inspiration.
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Hmm. I thought I had attributed it all correctly, but it certainly doesn't seem that way now.

It was definitely a forum post that gave me the idea, it does appear that Kim Zen was the inspiration.

Part 2 of your variant does indeed seem to be the conflation of ideas from Luca (Luke the Flaming) and Kim Zen (mezzoforte), although you get the credit for combining them as you did Steve. If you do want to edit your original post to get the attribution correct, the latter part could read as follows:

Quote:
2) When a player expends a card forcing a clearing of a row in the card display, that player places a neutral marker of a third colour in a city borough of their choice. This was suggested by Kim Zen. The appropriate number of cards based on that borough are drawn from the deck and immediately discarded. This was suggested by Luca.

I suppose this means the entire variant could be considered the "Ben and Zen-Luca 2-player variant (Duff edition)"! From Ben to Zen! In fact, I do rather like the sound of dubbing it the Ben & Zen-Luca variant!
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We played this two-player the other night and it worked surprisingly good.

It definitely solved the issues of "poverty points are meaningless" and "two omnibuses".
 
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Played our first 3 2-player games with the variant. LOVED the game. Tried one with the normal rules just to see what it would be like. Long and no poverty, as everyone has been saying. So the reverse engineered version of testing this variant appears to be a positive experience also.

Btw... Why no duplicate buildings?
 
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Mostly to prevent one player from having 2 Omnibuses at the same time, I think.
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
2) When a player expends a card forcing a clearing of a row in the card display, that player places a neutral marker of a third colour in a city borough of their choice.


Probably dumb question ... are folks playing this variant with borough placement rules enforced for neutral markers (1st placement on starting borough, subsequent placements must be adjacent to prior placments)? I would assume so, since I think the idea is to simulate a 3rd player playing under the same placement restrictions.
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Steve Duff
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pastabatman wrote:
Probably dumb question ... are folks playing this variant with borough placement rules enforced for neutral markers (1st placement on starting borough, subsequent placements must be adjacent to prior placments)? I would assume so, since I think the idea is to simulate a 3rd player playing under the same placement restrictions.


It's been quite a while, but I'm pretty sure we enforced the adjacency rules when developing it.
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Had a GREAT 2-player game with my brother this weekend. It was his first time and although long, we loved EVERY minute of it!
Having said which, I really like the sound of this variant - next time...

Thanks for posting it
 
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