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Subject: A 4-player variant that works! rss

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Tommaso Franco
Italy
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Hi,

I designed and tested a 4-player variant that runs smoothly and is great fun, so I decided to share it here. Comments and feedback are welcome!

RULES

A third role is added: the selfish dwarf, as proposed in the desinger's blog (don't have the link now). In a nutshel, the selfish dwarf wins only if he finds the gold himself, and doesn't share the prize.

The role mix is: two gold diggers, one saboteur, one selfish dwarf.

Minor tweaks: Reduce the number of treasure map card to 3 (take 3 out). Use "middle treasure variant": middle treasure card is 8 cards away from the starting ladder (so you can't connect two treasure cards with just one tunnel card at the same time)

Other rules and winning conditions don't change.

SCORING

You could as well use the standard rules, however I prefere to use my own:
Winning saboteur receives 3 random gold cards
Winning selfish dwarf receives 3 random gold cards
Winning gold diggers receive a total of 4 random gold cards, to be shared as in standard rules (the dwarf who connected the treasure takes 1st and 3rd card, the other dwarf takes 2nd and last card)

After three rounds, the dwarf with more gold wins. As a tie-breaker, you could consider which dwarf has the highest card, the the second highest etc.

COMMENTS

Hidden role games with two teams and an even number of players tend to work poorly - in this case, one saboteur is too little and two is too much. This is why I thought about a third role playing for himself. In this whay the game works almost like a 3-player game (which is great, 2 diggers vs. 1 saboteur) plus an extra dwarf who may help either side but in the end cares for himself.

I decided not to include the greedy dwarf variant (diggers with broken tools at the end get no gold) because it gave poor results with my non-gamer friends: they just didn't get it.

With my new scoring, basically you need to win at least two rounds to win the game. If you are the only one to do so, you will most likely be the winner, otherwise solo wins will count more.

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Tables
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I think this is a decent idea, I'd be interested in trying it if it weren't for Saboteur 2 making 4 player fine as is.

One minor point I'd make, the tiebreaker should probably be quantity of treasure cards first, then high cards. That way someone with 4 low treasure cards (i.e. won two rounds) won't get an unlucky loss to someone who only won once.
 
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Mercedes (Mandy)
Japan
Setagaya-ku
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I tried the variant for 4 players, I forgot to move the middle goal further away. But it worked quite well with 4 players. It seemed like everyone was the saboteur at one stage, it was a very entertaining game.

I am waiting to get Saboteur 2, but for the meantime I will play it this way as it was a lot of fun
 
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Tommaso Franco
Italy
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I'm happy to see that my variant gets positive feedback!
 
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Mercedes (Mandy)
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Setagaya-ku
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Update: we've been playing the 4 player variant and it is a huge hit! It works really well with 4 players.

In order to distinguish the role cards, we use :

Good dwarfs - 2 x green jacket dwarfs cards
selfish dwarf - 1 x red jacket dwarf card
saboteur - saboteur dwarf card

It's hilarious. "I'm a green dwarf!" "Me too!" "Me too!"

Thanks Tommaso for a great idea!
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Clyde W
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Wow...thanks for this...this might be the only way the game is actually playable. Any other way and it's just too obvious who the bad guys are.
 
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Bill Grant
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We decided to play a quick game of Saboteur after a long day of gaming with 4 people on Saturday. I knew this game played better with more but it was also a game my wife knew.

After we played the game with the normal rules we were very underwhelmed. Having played with three it didn't feel as lopsided (2-on-1 vs. 3-on-1).

But then I searched bgg and found this variant and was pleasantly surprised. Had I made a slightly smarter play as the greedy dwarf I would have won the second play. :-)

By the way we use the green dwarf as the greedy one. It both helped the color-blind player as well as was easy to remember (greed is green).
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Jim Robinson
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Alexandria
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I tried this variant last night. It works very well and it makes the game very cut throat and competitive. We played three rounds, and while the greedy dwarf never won (he came very close twice though), everyone agreed it really made the four player game shine.

In fact, I would go so far too say that any even-numbered player game should replace one dwarf with the greedy dwarf. With more players it is increasingly more difficult for the greedy dwarf to win, but it makes the game much more tricky.
 
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Frederic Moyersoen
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I like the 4-player variant rule suggestion a lot, except for the alternative gold distribution.

If the saboteur and selfish dwarf get 3 random gold cards, their points can vary from 3 to 9 points. This variation seems too much. Luck in drawing the right cards becomes too important.

I would like to propose the following idea:
Saboteur : 4 points
Selfish dwarf : 3 points (his role looks a little bit easier than the saboteur role).
Miners: 4 cards : first player gets 1st and 3rd pick, the other miner gets 2nd and last pick. The variation in points goes from 2 to 6 points per player (3 on average).

Any comments?
 
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Tommaso Franco
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Frederic, thanks for the praise and comments, it's a pleasure to chat with the designer himself!

The scoring I suggested gives some pretty wild swings, it is fair on average but quite unpredictable. Your proposal would work very well towards achieving a more serious result. As a side note, I'm not sure the selfish dwarf role is easier than the saboteur, but it's a minor edge anyway.

As a low variance alternative we tried and liked this one:
-Draw gold cards as per OP (3 for solos, 4 and then share for diggers)
-Gold cards do NOT add up. When you draw, keep the highest card and discard the rest (so kept cards equal victories)
-The player with more cards wins (more rounds won). If tied, the tied player with highest card wins (hardest round won, maybe a bit lucky)
 
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Frederic Moyersoen
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After extensive playtesting, we decided not to withhold the 4-player version for the World Tournament.
The game is more fun with more players. So, it makes no sense to promote the 4 player version via the tournament.

For the tournament, the selfish dwarf is added with 5 to 7 players. In the last case, there are even 2 selfish dwarves.
Regarding the distribution of points, we have chosen a flat gold distribution without any luck:
- gold digger: first miner gets 3 points and all others 2 points
- selfish dwarf: 4 points
- saboteur (single): 4 points, (with 2 or 3): 3 points
 
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