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Subject: Time Track Bombay variant rss

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Kevin B. Smith
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I love the time track mechanic (Games where the time track determines turn order (so you might get 2 turns in a row)) and it seemed like Bombay could work with one. Today I played a test game (against myself, controlling 2 elephants), using a time track rule. Here is how it works (if you have played Thebes or Red November, this will almost all be familiar):

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Set up a time track with spaces numbered 0 through 45. Each player has a marker for this track, and they all start on 0. The initial turn order for each player is chosen randomly. After that, whichever player's time piece is farthest back on the line takes their turn next. When two player tokens are on the same space, the one that arrived their LAST is considered to be the farthest back.

On your turn, you may move (or not), and take one action (or not). For example, if you are already on a silk production space, you can choose to remain there, and just buy a cube. Or you could move to a city AND sell a cube. Or you could move to a production space but choose not to buy a cube (perhaps you are waiting for a market restock, hoping for a better price). After moving and announcing your action, move your time track marker ahead one space for each action point you spent for the move (if any) and action (if any). Movement over hills costs 2 AP as usual, and buying silk costs 1 or 2 AP, as usual. A player can also spend 3 AP to receive 1 Rupee as their entire turn, as usual.

At the end of a player's turn, if that player was the last to reach the time track spaces marked 15 or 30, the round has ended. Perform a market restock, as usual. (See below for notes regarding when rounds should end with different numbers of players).

At the end of the game, a player's time track marker cannot move beyond space 45. As with the regular game, a player might end the game with a couple unusable AP left over.

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I think it works really well. Because you can travel from one end of the board to the other in a single turn, there are times where you might have to grab a token defensively to deny it to your opponent. There are fewer cases where you have to forfeit AP at the end of your turn, which I see as an improvement since that's a frustrating (though strategic) part of the original game. I especially see it as an improvement on the first turn of the game, where many board configurations almost require some players to waste actions. The timing at the ends of rounds is a bit different, in a good way, I think.

In the original game, the number and length of rounds varies depending on the number of players. The time track I described above matches the 3-player configuration of the original game. I think 3 rounds of 15 actions each works slightly better for 2 players than 4 of 12, because the market gets a bit thinner before getting restocked. It is possible (likely?) that the time track would have to be adjusted for 4 or 5 players, to avoid emptying the markets too much. Perhaps going to 4 rounds of 11 or 12 actions each would work for both 4 and 5 players.

In my practice game, the silk production spaces happened to align well with the demands of the cities. One elephant went for client tokens early, and built a couple good palaces. The other went for gold silk early, and focused on profit through selling. The city tokens were split, and the first elephant won 24-22.

Overall, the time track seems to add a bit of flair, and introduces some nice new tactical choices. I like it.
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Steven F
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This sounds like a neat way to play.

Question:
So the most actions the first player can take on his first turn is what - 15?
Because thats the end of round 1?
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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manko wrote:
This sounds like a neat way to play.

Question:
So the most actions the first player can take on his first turn is what - 15?
Because thats the end of round 1?

Theoretically yes. But you have to stop your turn whenever you do a non-move action (buy, sell, build palace). So to use all 15 actions (16 in a 2p or 4p game), you would have to just move your elephant around in circles for 14 action points, which would be quite silly.

In reality, the longest turn I can imagine would be sprinting from one corner of the board to the other, and then taking an action there. Not having the board in front of me, I would guess that would be about 8 actions.
 
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Steven F
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Just played a test game running 2 elephants and really prefer the game with the time track. The game feels much more strategic and dynamic.

I'm going to make up some colored discs to use on the track.


One thing I noticed is, with the ability to only do one non-move-type action per turn, a player can never buy more than one bale per turn, whereas in the regular game a player would sometimes buy 2 of the cheap bales on a turn.

Another great thing about the time track is you don't have to worry about remembering what round it is or who goes next because the track does that for you.


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Steve Duff
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manko wrote:
One thing I noticed is, with the ability to only do one non-move-type action per turn, a player can never buy more than one bale per turn, whereas in the regular game a player would sometimes buy 2 of the cheap bales on a turn.


Not legally, in the real rules you can only buy one bale per turn:

Quote:
Players make take their actions in any order and may do the same action
twice (for example 2 movements), but they can only buy one bale per game turn.


Sounds like you haven't been enforcing this, which would definitely change the game.
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Steven F
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yes we have been playing it incorrectly
 
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Brian S.
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Excellent variant. Really improves the flow of the game. The original mechanics are retained, but actions are completed much smoother, not stilted. Good simple effective tuneup, peakhope.
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Rich Charters
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Thanks for posting this variant. This kind of idea to spice up a so-so game is one huge benefit of a site like BGG. I'm going to try to get this to the table over Thanksgiving so I can try your time-track variant. If you have any other observations/suggestions as you play this variant, please post them.
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Sauli Kosonen
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Same feelings here. We tried the variant with 2 players and it makes the game much more enjoyable. Thanks for sharing!
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Any suggestion for the number of spaces for 4 and 5 players?
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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matmo wrote:
Any suggestion for the number of spaces for 4 and 5 players?

I no longer own Bombay, but according to a player aid on BGG, the original rules specify:

2 player: 4 rounds of 4 turns each = 48 actions per player
3 player: 3 rounds of 5 turns each = 45 actions per player
4 player: 4 rounds of 4 turns each = 48 actions per player
5 player: 5 rounds of 3 turns each = 45 actions per player

I think the main reason the 2p rules have 4 rounds of 4 turns each is to allow each player to go first twice. With the time track variant, that's no longer a factor, which is why I was able to have 3 rounds of 15 actions each, rather than 4 rounds of 12 each. Whether that was the right decision or not is debatable.

For the 5p game, again, they had 5 rounds so each player could go first once. Since that's no longer necessary, I'm torn between:

1. Matching the original game exactly (per the table above).

2. Scaling the rounds based on player count, aiming for comparable levels of cube depletion at all counts. This would be the same as the original game for 3p, 4p, and 5p, but would tweak 2p:
2p = 3 rounds of 16 actions (48 total)
3p = 3 rounds of 15 actions (45 total)
4p = 4 rounds of 12 actions (48 total)
5p = 5 rounds of 9 actions (45 total)

3. Having a single rule for all player counts, including 2p. That (e.g. 45 actions divided into 3 rounds). Thinking about it more, that probably doesn't make sense (despite the appealing simplicity).



Since I can only speculate about 4p and 5p, I would recommend matching the original game as a starting point, and then adjusting from there. That would be 4p = 48 actions in 4 rounds, and 5p = 45 actions in 5 rounds.
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I am going to upload a time-track for all players count

Thank you again for this smart idea!
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