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Subject: Essential variant: each player begins with 5 penalty chips rss

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Ender Wiggins
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The problem: This is a great little game, and any starting player advantage/disadvantage is evened out by the fact that all the players gets a turn to start a round. Except for one thing: the players who get rid of all their cards in the first round are at a disadvantage because they have no penalty chips to lose!

Example: Let's say in a two player game you win the first round (so you lose two penalty chips, but unfortunately you have none to lose!) while I have two cards left over (so I gain two penalty chips). Then I win the second round (so I lose my two penalty chips) while you have two cards left over (so you gain two penalty chips). You'd end up with 2 penalty chips and I'd end up with 0 penalty chips, so I would win the game. But that doesn't seem entirely fair - why should I win just because I got rid of my cards in the last round while you got rid of yours in the first round? Looking at the game as a whole, our success was identical. If we had played the rounds in reverse order you would have won instead of me!

Why? The situation of the above example has happened more than once in our games, and it doesn't seem fair to the person who got rid of all their cards in the first round - over the course of an entire game their success was perhaps just as much as other players, so why should they be penalized just because they succeeded in the first round rather than a later round? The only reason I can think of for justifying the actual rules on this point is that it keeps the game closer in the early stages, and thus making the later rounds more important. But while this potential imbalance may be deliberate, it may also be something that just wasn't noticed or considered. Looking at the flow of an entire game, it certainly doesn't seem entirely fair.

Suggested variant for solving this: each player begins the game with 5 penalty chips. That way if you are entitled to lose penalty chips in the first round, you actually have some to lose. Note that this is similar to how poverty points work in London, where players also begin the game with 5 each for the same reasons.
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Brett
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Apple Valley
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I had the same feeling as you. My thoughts were to give 2 penalty chips to everyone. In the one game I have played (4 player game) the winner placed all of her cards in the 1st 3 rounds and ended up taking some penalty chips in the last round. It could have been possible to have basically the same thing happen here that occured in your game. I think the next time I play we will not return chips if you place all of your cards.
 
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Ender Wiggins
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Grape Ape wrote:
I think the next time I play we will not return chips if you place all of your cards.

I don't think I'd favour doing away with the rule of losing chips for playing all your cards. Being able to lose penalty chips instead of gain them keeps the game interesting, and also gives players who are behind a chance to catch up in the last round or two. So being able to lose chips is a good rule that helps keep everyone in the game.

My only issue with this rule is that players should also be able to benefit from it in the first round - hence the suggestion to have everyone begin the game with five penalty chips.
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Jeroen Geenen
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Excellent point. I completely agree.
 
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Marco
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Let's wake up this thread. I thought the same after reading the rules. Without even playing it: I agree.
 
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