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Merchants & Marauders» Forums » Variants

Subject: Variable Game Length Variant rss

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Scott Lewis
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I posted this in another thread, but figured I'd post it here. I've not tried it yet, but I want to. As written, this variant may require card sleeves as you will see, unless you can find a way of slipping the "Game Over" event in the deck undetectable.

With this variant, the game does not end at 10 points, or any set number of points, really. Instead, you play until a "game over" Event is reached.

Take a slip of paper and write GAME OVER on it. Then take one of the Event cards at random, and put the slip of paper in the sleeve.

Next, take the Game Over card, and 5-10 other Event cards, and randomly mix them up. This means the Game Over won't happen TOO early. After mixing them, randomly shuffle the other Event cards and put them on top to create a single Event deck.

The game then plays as normal, except that you keep playing regardless of points. When the Game Over event is pulled you can play it one of two ways:
1) The game ends IMMEDIATELY.
2) That turn will be the last, everyone gets to act once more.

At the end of the game, everyone tallies their glory points. There are two possible ways to score Stash points:
1) Only half your points can come from stash; each 10 stashed gold is one point up to that maximum.
2) You can score any number of points from stash, but the amount of points per stash gets higher:
1st point = 5 gold
2nd point = 10 gold
3rd point = 20 gold
4th point = 30 gold
5th point = 40 gold
etc.
(You could use a different tier system if you want).


Obviously, a lot of "options" in this one to suit personal taste; I haven't played it yet so I can't say which options work "better" yet.


If you don't have sleeves, one option could be to randomly pick an event as before, except instead of putting a slip in there, just write down the event name. Then treat that like the Game Over event as normal, shuffling it at the bottom, and when it's pulled, the game ends as above.


Anyway, I hope to try this variant sometime to let people know how it works out.
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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I like the idea of an uncertain ending, as opposed to a race to 10 points (although I like that just fine, too). My experience so far in about 5 plays is that the game has ended after about 15-20 turns, so if you put that Game Over card in the bottom 10 cards (out of 34 total), it could end up being a really long game. You can always season to taste if you want a shorter/longer game. I would probably have it come up somewhere between 15-25, so in that case you'd have to draw about 10 cards to be the bottom of the deck (the events you'll never get to), then draw another 10 to shuffle the end of game card into, and then put everything on top from there.

One thing you could do, instead of needing sleeves or a slip of paper or using an Event card, is to use a Ship card (there's no way you'll need 4 Man-o-Wars cards at the same time). It's the same size as the Events and if you're careful with the Event deck it won't be seen until the card before it is drawn. In that case, when you see that Ship card, it signifies that the Event card that you just drew is the final one and that this is the final turn.
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Also, I would opt for your first option, where at most, half of your points can come from stashed gold. One thing I really like about this variant is that it will encourage players to stash more often. A lot of times, it seems like everyone just waits to stash anything until it can win the game. And that's fine, but with this variant there will come a time after so many turns have passed when some more priority will be put on making sure you get back home to stash some gold and grab a few more points, in case the game ends.

I'm also wondering if, in this case, Glory Points should be kept hidden. In other words, use some kind of chips or coins, and each time you earn a Glory Point, put a chip into your treasure chest. Since 10 wouldn't be the victory target, I like that there would be some more uncertainty about how many points everyone has.
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Scott Lewis
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Grudunza wrote:
I like the idea of an uncertain ending, as opposed to a race to 10 points (although I like that just fine, too). My experience so far in about 5 plays is that the game has ended after about 15-20 turns, so if you put that Game Over card in the bottom 10 cards (out of 34 total), it could end up being a really long game.

This is true; it may depend on your play group for how viable that type of length could be.

Quote:
You can always season to taste if you want a shorter/longer game. I would probably have it come up somewhere between 15-25, so in that case you'd have to draw about 10 cards to be the bottom of the deck (the events you'll never get to), then draw another 10 to shuffle the end of game card into, and then put everything on top from there.

I think if I were to do this, I'd skip the "10 cards you never get to", and just put them back in the box; no sense having them there if you know they'll never show up.

Quote:
One thing you could do, instead of needing sleeves or a slip of paper or using an Event card, is to use a Ship card (there's no way you'll need 4 Man-o-Wars cards at the same time). It's the same size as the Events and if you're careful with the Event deck it won't be seen until the card before it is drawn. In that case, when you see that Ship card, it signifies that the Event card that you just drew is the final one and that this is the final turn.

That's not a bad idea, kind of leads to the "one more turn" idea (except with the minor variation of it's a "one more turn, but there's still a regular event").

Grudunza wrote:
Also, I would opt for your first option, where at most, half of your points can come from stashed gold. One thing I really like about this variant is that it will encourage players to stash more often. A lot of times, it seems like everyone just waits to stash anything until it can win the game. And that's fine, but with this variant there will come a time after so many turns have passed when some more priority will be put on making sure you get back home to stash some gold and grab a few more points, in case the game ends.

That makes sense; I think I may try it that way first, as it's easier to figure out than trying to calculate the tiered stuff.

Quote:
I'm also wondering if, in this case, Glory Points should be kept hidden. In other words, use some kind of chips or coins, and each time you earn a Glory Point, put a chip into your treasure chest. Since 10 wouldn't be the victory target, I like that there would be some more uncertainty about how many points everyone has.

I think the stash uncertainty is good enough for me. While playing with deliberate cheaters is something to avoid, I think if you keep the Glory Points TOO hidden, it would make it more likely for even accidental "cheating". Heck, even when playing with VISIBLE points, we sometimes forget if we moved the score up correctly But I guess it could be worth a try!
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