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Subject: Why Ever Say "Master"? rss

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Randy Cox
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I used to own this game (and soon will again, though not an official boxed set like the one I sold).

One thing I recall is that no one ever said "Master" just to have the Master place a white or black stone. We always said "Mondo" because there was at least a 50-50 chance we'd get a green stone for our guess. And we'd still find out whether the koan is correct or not.

So, why call "Master"?
 
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Malachi Brown
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If you don't have a clue what the rule is, then it's just a 50/50 guess on your part but if another player has slightly more of a clue, then they will, on average, get more guessing stones than you.

Furthermore, if you're really pushing the limits of your known information, you really won't have a clue how your koan will go. If someone has already figured out something you haven't then you are just giving them stones for no reason.

To put it another way, no matter how clued in you are, you should be building koans that you don't really know how they will be evaluated. This should be true for everyone. However, each person might be going down a different track and have different insights into what the rule might be. This means that, on average (with skilled players), your mondo on your own koans will just be a 50/50 guess, but everyone else's guess will be potentially slightly better, meaning that they will end up with more guessing stones than you.

Now, at this point you may be thinking, "so they get a few more guessing stones, who cares?" I generally consider letting players amass large numbers of guessing stones unchecked is dangerous because it allows someone to try to brute force guess the rule in one turn. i.e. making a series of guesses, one right after another, to force the Master to reveal incrementally more information about the rule until they have either figured it out or exhausted their supply of stones.

All that being said, if you are happy with playing it the way yourself. I just think there are plenty of reasons to try to limit the rate at which guessing stones are acquired by other players.
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Russ Williams
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Randy, were you playing it (consciously or unconsciously) more as a coop game and not caring if another player won the round by guessing the koan first...?
 
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Jeff Wolfe
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I agree there's value in not giving your opponents any more stones than you have to, but I tend to call "Mondo" a lot anyway. I tend to believe that a chance at a guessing stone will help me more than it will help my opponents. Maybe that's arrogance or maybe that's just because I'm often teaching new players. I do call "Master" sometimes when I don't want my opponents to have more stones or when I want to mix up my strategy a little bit.
 
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Randy Cox
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russ wrote:
Randy, were you playing it (consciously or unconsciously) more as a coop game and not caring if another player won the round by guessing the koan first...?
No, we weren't playing it co-op. But we did realize that whoever went first or second (I think we had 6 players) would never get a chance to guess again if they didn't go for it on their first turn. By the time it would get back to them, virtually everyone would know the riddle, and as a result they figured they should say "Mondo" and have a chance to get a green stone (which would be used on the next players turn as Master)--after all, they don't have to explain their theory, just collect the green stone or not.
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Russ Williams
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Randy Cox wrote:
But we did realize that whoever went first or second (I think we had 6 players) would never get a chance to guess again if they didn't go for it on their first turn.

Wow - your guessers were much cleverer than ones I've played with, or the rules were simpler.

Or playing with 6 players makes it more likely that someone will get the aha-insight that helps them solve it more quickly. That would make sense. I've never played with that large a number of players. (Except online here, but the koans tend to be much tougher in the play-by-forum games.)

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By the time it would get back to them, virtually everyone would know the riddle, and as a result they figured they should say "Mondo" and have a chance to get a green stone (which would be used on the next players turn as Master)--after all, they don't have to explain their theory, just collect the green stone or not.

Ah, that's a rule difference then - we didn't save guessing stones from round to round.

Although even if one did, there's arguably still no motivation to say "Mondo" if you have no idea (50% chance of getting a guessing stone, whereas some opponents might happen to suspect the solution and have a higher chance of getting a guessing stone.) I.e. whether or not guessing stones carry over to the next round, you seemingly don't want your opponents to have a higher expected number of them than you.
 
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Adam McD
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Randy Cox wrote:
russ wrote:
Randy, were you playing it (consciously or unconsciously) more as a coop game and not caring if another player won the round by guessing the koan first...?
No, we weren't playing it co-op. But we did realize that whoever went first or second (I think we had 6 players) would never get a chance to guess again if they didn't go for it on their first turn. By the time it would get back to them, virtually everyone would know the riddle, and as a result they figured they should say "Mondo" and have a chance to get a green stone (which would be used on the next players turn as Master)--after all, they don't have to explain their theory, just collect the green stone or not.

This example is close to one that I would use to explain why one would NOT want to "mondo".

Suppose there are five students and one master, and that your group tends to avoid really tricky rules (sticking to ones that are often guessable in 1 round or so).

Well, even with fairly simply rules, you're not going to be able to guess the rule if you go first ... you're just not -- I can go into the math behind this if you like, but there should be less than a 1% of guessing the rule right off the bat (unless the master is known to be very predictable and/or sticks to only the most very basic rule variations).

Suppose that given this situation, the rule is often guessed after only 3 or 4 or 5 player's turns. Then, as the 1st (or 2nd) player, it would in your best interest to curb the chances of players 3, 4, and 5 to correctly guess the rule. As such, the first player (you) and probably the second player too would NOT want to "mondo" because then you are allowing for up to 4 additional guesses (and helpful counter-example koans!) before your next turn.

On the other hand, if players 1 and 2 didn't "mondo", they would be much more likely to have a 2nd turn.
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Pieter
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It is a mistake thinking that just calling Mondo on any koan would give you 50-50 chances of getting a green stone. It depends on the rule. For instance, suppose that the rule is "two green pyramids should be pointing at each other", then a random koan would not have 50% chance of giving a green stone. And that holds for virtually any rule.
 
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Russ Williams
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Flyboy Connor wrote:
It is a mistake thinking that just calling Mondo on any koan would give you 50-50 chances of getting a green stone. It depends on the rule. For instance, suppose that the rule is "two green pyramids should be pointing at each other", then a random koan would not have 50% chance of giving a green stone. And that holds for virtually any rule.

I believe you're confusing 2 different things:

* the probability of a "random koan" conforming to the rule. (Which indeed might be different from 50% - but previous comments weren't talking about this probability.)

* the probability of gaining a guessing stone during a Mondo. If a Mondo guesser guesses randomly, he indeed has a 50% chance of gaining a guessing stone, regardless of what the probability of a "random koan" conforming to the rule is.

(I put "random koan" in quote marks because talking about the probability of a koan conforming to the rule is a bit nebulous in the absence of a defined probability distribution over the set of all koans.)
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