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Subject: Settlers of Catan - reducing the "randomness" rss

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Tim Synge
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One of the comments often made about Settlers relates to the dependence of the game on the outcome of dice rolling. I have been wondering whether this aspect could be usefully tweaked. Has anyone ever tried having each player roll three dice instead of two and discard one? For example, if I roll a 1, 3 and 6, I can decide whether the outcome is a 4, a 7 or a 9 and this give me some choice over what happens next. This could add some interest to a part of the game that players currently have little control over.

Any thoughts?
 
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Tom Powers
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I think that's an interesting idea, although it could still be very luck driven, especially if someone has a city or 2 on a 3 or an 11 and they get to pick that every time.

It also would mean that people would get to select the type of good they wanted, while screwing other people out of it.

I say give it a shot, but I would expect quite a different game (not necessarily bad).

I keep threatening to use the Deck of Dice, but I never have it around when we decide to play Settlers (which isn't very often any more).

Let us know if you try it and how it turns out!

Tom
 
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MK
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Here's my suggestion.

Make up cards along the normal distribution of two dice, and make two such sets. You'll have, then, 2 2 cards, 2 12 cards, 4 3 cards, 4 11 cards, etc. all the way up to 12 7 cards.

Every player gets a fixed number of these at the start. Let's say 4 of the cards. When you'd normally roll the dice, you instead play a card. That number either moves the robber (7) or produces the appropriate resources.

You can also choose to draw two new roll cards instead of playing one - in which case, no one gets resources, but you get more cards to use later on. Never can you draw cards so that you have more than four.

During trading, in addition to trading your goods cards, allow people to trade roll cards as well - basically, you're trading the ability to produce, as well as the products themselves. Through trades you may end up with more than 4 roll cards, but then you cannot draw more on your turn until you're below 4 again later on.
 
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Tim Synge wrote:
One of the comments often made about Settlers relates to the dependence of the game on the outcome of dice rolling. I have been wondering whether this aspect could be usefully tweaked. Has anyone ever tried having each player roll three dice instead of two and discard one? For example, if I roll a 1, 3 and 6, I can decide whether the outcome is a 4, a 7 or a 9 and this give me some choice over what happens next. This could add some interest to a part of the game that players currently have little control over.

Any thoughts?



I thought one thing you could do is have a round of bidding to affect the numbers, maybe one resource to bring the number up or down on the dice. Have the bidding go round and round till everyone bows out.
 
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Matthew M
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Or maybe a certain degree of randomness is what you sign up for when you sit down for a game of Settlers, and if you don't want it you should play something else It's not as if you'll be locked in for hours playing a game where the laws of probability are suspended for the sole purpose of making you miserable. The game takes 45 minutes.

As for dicedecks, if the threads already on the SoC page that outline why that's a bad idea don't convince you, well...enjoy

-MMM
 
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Werner Stangl
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I use the "Poverty nobles" (?) variant to reduce randomness. For each throw you don't get any resource from (except for a 7), you get a chit. You can turn in as many chits as you currently have VPs in order to chose your own die throw.
This makes the early game quicker and reduces randomness quite a bit.
 
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caffinedrenchedfrog thegreat
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Settlers is a wonderful game and wonderfully a little random. If you wanna make house rules, go forth and use them. But I like my settlers the way it is. For nonrandomness, I would play puerto rico.

JP
 
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Wernazuma wrote:
I use the "Poverty nobles" (?) variant to reduce randomness.


I like it also. It's the best way to reward the players with bad luck without tweak the dice system.
 
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Tim K.
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Re: Settlers of Catan - reducing the
Octavian wrote:
Or maybe a certain degree of randomness is what you sign up for when you sit down for a game of Settlers, and if you don't want it you should play something else


Agreed! I've done the "even things out" thing and it just makes the game drag on longer. Even something as simple as the foodstamp (or poverty noble?) variant can have that effect.

I prefer to watch people squirm to survive when things don't go their way devil
 
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A Derk appears from the mists...
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Our preferred method is the 'food stamps' method. You get a chit when you don't get anything for a given die roll (altho, not if the robber stopped you from getting something), and you can trade in X chits for a card, where X is yer current VP level. Not quite the same as the 'noble' variant mentioned above...
 
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Neil Carr
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Wernazuma wrote:
I use the "Poverty nobles" (?) variant to reduce randomness. For each throw you don't get any resource from (except for a 7), you get a chit. You can turn in as many chits as you currently have VPs in order to chose your own die throw.
This makes the early game quicker and reduces randomness quite a bit.


I've used a similar method many times to a great deal of success. However with the rules we use you turn in your chips for a resource of your choice, rather than a die roll.

The major problem that I have with Settlers is that unless you play with a bunch of people in a very serious manner there is always one (or two if play 5-6 players) that end up languishing throughout the game. They get a crappy position, or just aren't the strongest players and end up just sitting there most of the game watching others zoom ahead and be able to implement plans.

By using the poverty nobles rule you give just enough of a nudge to that player which is way behind to at least stay in the game and be able to do something other than just sit there. It's especially invaluable in 5 or 6 player games because it can be agonizing just to see someone be left behind and bored for such a long game.

What's really nice about the rule is that it really only benefits those who are behind. The better you are able to set up your economic engine means less chits you recieve because of the rule, and also the more victory points you have makes it even less likely that you can cash in your chits for a free resource. It does just what is needed for the game which is to keep everyone in for the mid and late game.
 
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Jeff W
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Re: Settlers of Catan - reducing the
Tim Synge wrote:
Has anyone ever tried having each player roll three dice instead of two and discard one?


Interesting idea. It would smooth out the numbers in that a 6 won't be that much better than a 3. I think the game would go much faster and perhaps there would be little or no trading. There would be a lot of production and perhaps more "7s" rolled to hose people. I think there would be a shift toward getting "monopolies" on certain numbers.

It would certainly be a different game. It might be a better game. I believe it would be a shorter game (which would be good). Try it out and let us know.

Jeff
 
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Tom "Snicker Daddy" Pancoast
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That sounds like a cool idea. It would increase the screwage because the robber would always be a choice, not something forced on you. You could call it "Catan Stop".
 
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Re: Settlers of Catan - reducing the
Tim Synge wrote:
Has anyone ever tried having each player roll three dice instead of two and discard one?



Hmmm...don't see this quote on the responses. I see it. I have one question about it. How do you choose which die is thrown? Is is the active player, or is there a vote?
If it's the active player, can you trade resources for the privilage of which one goes?

 
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Umm, I feel like you guys don't understand the laws of probability too well or the game of Settlers for that matter. The entire game (and most of the strategy) revolves around the fact that more numbers come up more often than others. There is NO randomness. Over the course of the game the more probable number will come up more, and the less probable ones will come up less. It'll balance out. If you take out the probability aspect by allowing re-rolls and choosing numbers and what else, it nullifies the whole basis/strategy of the game; which is to optimize your resource production through probability, and thus your ability to build and score points.
 
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Matthew M
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Zaphod wrote:
Umm, I feel like you guys don't understand the laws of probability too well or the game of Settlers for that matter. The entire game (and most of the strategy) revolves around the fact that more numbers come up more often than others. There is NO randomness. Over the course of the game the more probable number will come up more, and the less probable ones will come up less. It'll balance out.


This is, strictly speaking, not necessarily true. Over the course of the game the more probably numbers will probably come up more, but there is randomness involved. You cannot predict, prior to playing, if the game you will play will feature average die roll results or if it will be skewed, and if it is skewed you cannot predict in which direction. However you can moderate the effects of randomness by choosing which numbers to build on, where you place the robber, getting ports, actively trading, etc.

The only way to absolutely guarantee that the actual results will equal their probable results is to play a game with infinite rolls, but then we're getting quite far away from the playing time of 45 minutes.

-MMM
 
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Matthew Frederick
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Re: Settlers of Catan - reducing the
The three-dice-instead-of-two trick isn't going to "smooth out" the rolls: it's going to make the 6 and 8 tiles even more valuable. Sure your odds of getting that 3 go up -- it's one more die! -- but your odds of getting that 6 or 8 go way up.

Remember that with two dice you have to roll a 1+2 or a 2+1 to get that 3. Adding a third die certainly increases your chances of getting a 1+2 or 2+1, because hey, maybe that third die will be a 1 or a 2, hoping to pair it with your existing 1 or 2.

But to roll a 6 you need a 1+5 or 2+4 or 3+3 or a 4+4 or a 5+1. Add a third die and the odds of getting a 1 or a 2 or a 3 or a 4 or a 5 are darned good, hoping to pair it with your existing 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5.

I'm no statistics fiend, but I'm pretty sure that a third die just spikes the bell curve more, not less.
 
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Matthew M
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mfrederick wrote:

I'm no statistics fiend, but I'm pretty sure that a third die just spikes the bell curve more, not less.


Not that I'm advocating using this change (far from it!) but I don't think it's useful to analyze this situation by how many possible rolls can give a 6 or 8 vs how many can give a 3 because the person rolling the dice gets to chose which combination of dice to use. Just having 3 become more available in the rolls improves it as a potential settlement spot. So you're not looking at chances of rolling a 3 vs chances of rolling a 6 - you're looking at chances of rolling a 3 on two out of three dice vs chances of rolling a 3 on two dice alone.

Just sayin. Catan ain't broke so it doesn't need fixing, IMO.

-MMM
 
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Harald Torvatn
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Re: Settlers of Catan - reducing the
junesen wrote:
Tim Synge wrote:
Has anyone ever tried having each player roll three dice instead of two and discard one?


Interesting idea. It would smooth out the numbers in that a 6 won't be that much better than a 3. I think the game would go much faster and perhaps there would be little or no trading. There would be a lot of production and perhaps more "7s" rolled to hose people. I think there would be a shift toward getting "monopolies" on certain numbers.

It would certainly be a different game. It might be a better game. I believe it would be a shorter game (which would be good). Try it out and let us know.

Jeff


I think the game would be much slower, because play would stop after each die roll while the player calculated the best die to discard.
 
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Re: Settlers of Catan - reducing the
Quote:
Has anyone ever tried having each player roll three dice instead of two and discard one?


I played with the "roll three, pick two" dice rule in about a dozen games of Settler of Catan. I REALLY liked it but there were players in my group who didn't like doing the math. You need to look at the three dice you rolled and go through all the options you have, e.g. I rolled a 5, 4, and 1 giving me the choice of 5, 6, or 9 - Blue would get 3 sheep if I pick "9" but Yellow gets two wood and a brick if I pick "6" but I get ...yadda yadda yadda. There was a slow down as players looked at all the options to make their decisions. This three dice rule really made for an even game and I liked that part of it. As soon as player had an obvious lead, all the choices made by his opponents would leaned against him. Also nobody really cared if their pick would give the guy in last place a few more resources so lagging players would often get a needed free boost.

Shortly after this, Cities and Knights of Catan tainted Catan for the group that I played it with:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekforum.php3?action=viewthrea...
 
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Nomadic Gamer
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It's just settlers; either use cards (it's been done in wargames to limit the result pool) or do what I do:
(shameless plug)
Play Settlers of China Wall. If you get behind you refuse to build a wall.
Which means YOU get a discount on the your purchases, whilst the others
have to worry about the wall. And you move the Huns by the leaders, who won't pick on you, but pick on #2, assuming they don't 'feed' the wall.
Either way the leader(s) slow down.
 
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Jeff W
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Re: Settlers of Catan - reducing the
Quote:
I think the game would be much slower, because play would stop after each die roll while the player calculated the best die to discard.


Yes, that's true. The number of turns would be less, but that'll be made up by this decision making.
 
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Inno Van
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Simple Solution: Play Settlers of Nürnberg instead.
Settlers of Nürnberg already uses a "dice deck".

I've already made an English language translation and posted it here on bgg as a .pdf.

Just print out the deck and use that instead of rolling the dice.

 
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Zaphod wrote:
Umm, I feel like you guys don't understand the laws of probability too well or the game of Settlers for that matter. The entire game (and most of the strategy) revolves around the fact that more numbers come up more often than others. There is NO randomness. Over the course of the game the more probable number will come up more, and the less probable ones will come up less. It'll balance out. If you take out the probability aspect by allowing re-rolls and choosing numbers and what else, it nullifies the whole basis/strategy of the game; which is to optimize your resource production through probability, and thus your ability to build and score points.



Sounds like you haven't played enough games where you have been royally screwed by unlucky and untimely dice rolls.
Regression towards the mean is a fact, but only after enough dice rolls...not necessariliy the amount in a single game of Settlers.
 
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Jeff W
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Re: Settlers of Catan - reducing the
OK, a quick calculation shows the following:


2: 16 ( 7.41% vs. 2.78%) ( 4.75 vs 5.00)
3: 30 ( 13.89% vs. 5.56%) ( 2.53 vs 2.50)
4: 46 ( 21.30% vs. 8.33%) ( 1.65 vs 1.67)
5: 60 ( 27.78% vs. 11.11%) ( 1.27 vs 1.25)
6: 76 ( 35.19% vs. 13.89%) ( 1.00 vs 1.00)
7: 90 ( 41.67% vs. 16.67%) ( 0.84 vs 0.83)
8: 76 ( 35.19% vs. 13.89%) ( 1.00 vs 1.00)
9: 60 ( 27.78% vs. 11.11%) ( 1.27 vs 1.25)
10: 46 ( 21.30% vs. 8.33%) ( 1.65 vs 1.67)
11: 30 ( 13.89% vs. 5.56%) ( 2.53 vs 2.50)
12: 16 ( 7.41% vs. 2.78%) ( 4.75 vs 5.00)


first column is the dice roll desired
second column is the number of times out of 216 that number can be chosen
third column is the number in percentage
fourth column is the comparison to just 2 dice
fifth column is the row 6 divided by current row
sixth column is the "fifth column" equivalent with 2 dice

The above shows that the likelihood of any number showing up is almost 3X, and it is pretty much constant across all the numbers.

Interesting result. I think it would make variant pretty interesting.

 
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