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Subject: Game Length: Shortening the game? rss

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james napoli
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I'm potentially going to get this to the table tonight. It's likely we'll have 5 players that would include the wives. When we game as a larger group we tend to drag games out with a lot of table talk(and that's fine, we tend to enjoy the social aspect of gaming just as much as the games themselves).

I was wondering if anyone has tried shortening this game and if it would necessarily break it. My thought was to simply randomly remove maybe 5 or so of the dominance(?) cards.

Any thoughts on this ?

My fear is that if this game takes 4 hours, we may never play it again.

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James
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Richard Morris
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Yes, people have been known to shorten the game by removing cards.

Start with the cards that give extra APs - they extend the game.
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Chadwik
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For a shorter game I suggest removing the three cards that add action pawns, as well as Immigrants (since one of the options is to lose an AP, which isn't really an option if you haven't gained any during the course of play). That should shave a not insignificant amount of time off the normal play time.
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Richard Pardoe
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We played a 6P game in just over 2.5 hours w/ rules explanation by doing exactly that (removing cards).

When we started the game, I indicated that we would hard-stop in a few hours and that the game was intended to introduce those who hadn't played to the game.

As we played the first few turns, I removed 5 cards from the deck (sight unseen) and then as we got closer to the end, I removed another 5 cards (also sight unseen) as this would bring the Ice Age card onto the board and trigger end game when it was selected.

The only downside to this method is that some of the nastier cards (eg Catastophe) were not played but as a teaching game, it worked very well.
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Chris Berger
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I was thinking about a somewhat similar variant... One of the things about the game that I'm not sure I like is that you're guaranteed to see every dominance card, and you know exactly when the Ice Age card is coming. One way to change it would be to randomly remove a chunk from the top, but I kind of like this variant idea:

-Before dealing out the dominance cards during the Reseed step, move the top card to the bottom of the deck without looking at it. This *may* shorten the game, although if the Ice Age card ends up being moved to the bottom, then you'll end up with the same length. So the game may be the same length as normal, or it may be a turn (possibly 2?) shorter. Because you aren't *guaranteed* to see every card in every game, there's a little bit of hidden information, and unless you're counting how many cards are left, it's harder to be certain how many turns are left. This also, if I'm thinking about it right, increases the average number of cards available on the last turn of the game, which I think is a good thing. (?)

-To guarantee a shorter game, discard the cards instead of putting them on the bottom. Do not discard the last (Ice Age) card.

-If there is ever an expansion, an extra 5-10 cards can be added to the deck, and if you discard a card from the top of the deck every turn, the game won't be any longer. And having about 6-8 unseen cards every game keeps it a little bit more fresh, IMHO.
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Shane Larsen
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Chad Jensen wrote:
That should shave a not insignificant amount of time off the normal play time.


Chad, to me, not insignificant = significant. Is that what you're saying? Or are you saying something more like slightly significant?
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Ryan Metzler
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thedacker wrote:
Chad Jensen wrote:
That should shave a not insignificant amount of time off the normal play time.


Chad, to me, not insignificant = significant. Is that what you're saying? Or are you saying something more like slightly significant?


He is saying it will shorten the game significantly.
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Julio Marcano
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Chad Jensen wrote:
For a shorter game I suggest removing the three cards that add action pawns, as well as Immigrants (since one of the options is to lose an AP, which isn't really an option if you haven't gained any during the course of play). That should shave a not insignificant amount of time off the normal play time.


Chad, is it necessary to use all cards in te game? What if you removed mora than three?

I also was thinking in a rule taken from Thunderstone. Put randomly the Ice Age card on the last 10 cards, and trigger the end of the game when the card appears. How this rule would affect the game?
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Chadwik
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Quote:
not insignificant = significant. Is that what you're saying? Or are you saying something more like slightly significant?

Either is possible, as the length of the game varies according to how early or how late in the game any of these particular cards show up. In other words, adding APs early in a game adds more time to the game than a late addition of APs. So "not insignificant" was precisely chosen to indicate a range of results.

Quote:
is it necessary to use all cards in te game?

No, though the game is obviously predicated on using them all, as per the rules as written. Remove cards and you lessen the overall experience to one degree or another. One can remove the rooks and bishops from a game of chess, too, but I wouldn't be wont to do so.

I (obviously) suggest folks play the game as it is intended the first time through, making personal adjustments afterwards -- for future sessions -- if desired. Who knows, you might find you actually like a longer game that keeps you captivated throughout. If you don't have the time for a 3-4 hour game, don't play a 3-4 hour game: artificially truncating it may give you a false first impression. Instead, save it for when you do have the time; that time will be well rewarded.
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Adam Osborn
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I think that some of the animal groups have abilities that are better suited to longer games, and I fear that pulling cards out of the deck disrupts some of the balance.
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james napoli
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Thanks for all the feedback.

I did pull out the the cards that give extra action points and the catastrophe card(as per a friends recommendation), and it seemed to work out just fine. Most seemed to enjoy the game even though i did get a few rules wrong. hopefully we'll get to play it again soon.

With 5 people it was probably about 2.5 to 3 hours.

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James
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Sean Heath
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You could also consider finding one more player if that is an option. In my experience, 6 players has been shorter than 4 or 5 player games. Mainly because there are only 3*6=18 AP's per round starting out, and with 4 or 5 players, there are 20.

The first time I played with 6 players, it was everyones first time and it took 3.5 hours.
 
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Jaru Rainn
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What has worked for my group and I is, while we start playing and we are trudging through the game, if we feel that its getting too late or we want to move on to something else, we just say we play two more rounds and stop the game. By the end of those two rounds, whoever has the most VPs wins. By no means is this a good solution for the dominant species enthusiasts out there, but I feel its just fine for casual playing.
 
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Shane Larsen
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On Sunday night, I taught and played a game with two newbies and one other player who had played it once, but didn't remember well. They are all prone to AP. So I knew I needed to shorten the game more than just removing the four action-pawn cards (as mentioned by Chad above).

Many players here suggested methods of removing cards from the deck at random, or offering players a chance to seed the deck and allow only a certain number of cards. But then you face the problem of eliminating cards that may be vital to players' strategies--not to mention short-selling the game's full experience.

Here was my solution:

During the reset phase, remove ALL domination cards from the card row.

This accomplishes a shorter game without eliminating cards from the deck. Therefore giving players a chance to take any and every card, but only for the round in which it appears.

I thought it worked great. But what do you think?

Thoughts?...
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Bry K
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Clearly he doesn't know what he is saying. Any Designer that relies on a FFA aspect to balance their game doesn't
 
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alan beaumont
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Questionable conclusion
Bryk wrote:
Clearly he doesn't know what he is saying. Any Designer that relies on a FFA aspect to balance their game doesn't

Like the designer I have no idea what FFA means. However he was asked to shorten the game, not balance it, so this criticism is, ahem, specious.
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Chadwik
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Bryk wrote:
Clearly he doesn't know what he is saying. Any Designer that relies on a FFA aspect to balance their game doesn't


What is an "FFA aspect"?
 
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Jeff Binning
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Best fit for the acronym I could find was Free For All. Not sure if that's what the poster meant, though.
 
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Chadwik
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Finally Friggin' Able.

Fantasy Flight Auction.

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Football Federation of Armenia.

Future Farmers of America.

Feldflieger Abteilung.
 
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David Hoffman
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thedacker wrote:
Here was my solution:

During the reset phase, remove ALL domination cards from the card row.


I like this, and we're going to try it next time. Honestly, when I did my "test game" before teaching my group, I just assumed any cards not selected were removed.

An alternate that we've tried has been this:

(1) After shuffling the deck of cards but before adding in the Ice Age card, deal an amount of cards -- ideally 6, 7 or 8 cards -- onto the table.

(2) Shuffle the Ice Age card into these.

(3) Add these cards to the bottom of the deck.

(4) Resolve the Ice Age card normally.


What we like about this is it adds an element of uncertainty to the endgame.

What we didn't like was . . . the element of uncertainty. Is the game about to end? Will there be another turn after this one? It made planning your last couple turns rough, but it also had the potential to shorten things -- or the potential to lengthen them.

I'm going to try your variant, though. I think it'll be interesting seeing that card you wanted but didn't get (for whatever reason) go out of the game.
 
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Chad Jensen wrote:
Finally Friggin' Able.

Fantasy Flight Auction.

Fast Folding Algorithm.

Football Federation of Armenia.

Future Farmers of America.

Feldflieger Abteilung.


Fully Functioning A...ninja
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Lindsay Scholle
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thedacker wrote:


Here was my solution:

During the reset phase, remove ALL domination cards from the card row.

This accomplishes a shorter game without eliminating cards from the deck. Therefore giving players a chance to take any and every card, but only for the round in which it appears.

I thought it worked great. But what do you think?

Thoughts?...


I like this idea and am calling it the "short game variant". We'll try it next time we play. Those around the table playing the "full game" thought it'd be a very good game if we could just get it in at comfortably under three hours.

I was wondering whether we should reduce the number of species (each player gets), by 20% for the short game. We found in the full game you run short of species. If the game was shorter and we played with the full number of species we might not have to conserve our species like we do in the full game experience.
 
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Kevin Garnica
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thedacker wrote:


Here was my solution:

During the reset phase, remove ALL domination cards from the card row.

This accomplishes a shorter game without eliminating cards from the deck. Therefore giving players a chance to take any and every card, but only for the round in which it appears.

I thought it worked great. But what do you think?

Thoughts?...


I, too, like this and am going to try it today for our first game. In fact, I like your idea so much I thumbed you for it; it seems to make the most sense without adversely affecting the intended game play.
 
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Kevin Streicher
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It affects the game in so many ways i do not know where to start!

When you remove ALL domination cards player will have to go more on domination cards, also the number of species you can get will not fit for the number of species you are able to bring to the table.

I am really waiting for a GOOD variant for 2-3 player and a GOOD variant for shortening the game to 3 hours. I guess we would play the game double the time we do it now.

Until someone teaches me with some better variant the only way is see is the way Chad stated. Removing the Extra AP. I do not like this cards anyhow as i think they have a much too high impact compared to the immense high luck factor for domination cards. (When they appear early. If they appear in the last turn they are worthles anyhow.)
 
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