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Subject: Deck Building = Shuffling ? rss

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Brandon Tibbetts
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Must a deck building mechanic require shuffling?

Instead of shuffling your discard pile to create a new draw pile, "spent" cards could either go back to a general supply or to the bottom of your personal deck (probably in the order they are played). Thus, no more shuffling.

As I see it, the worst thing that would happen from this adjustment would be the introduction of a memory element. Is this the reason shuffling exists in deck building games, to eliminate this?

Anyone know of any deck building games that do not require in-game shuffling?

Can anyone think of other reasons in-game shuffling is used in deck building games that I am missing?

Can anyone think of a way to reduce or eliminate the memory element that would be caused by my solution? One solution would be to turn the deck into a hand, but too many cards is too difficult to manage in a hand, while limiting the hand size would kill the ability to build a deck.

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Paul DeStefano
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schmanthony wrote:
Can anyone think of other reasons in-game shuffling is used in deck building games that I am missing?


It keeps card sleeve companies in business.
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James Sitz
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It adds a random element which is one of the big strengths in using cards.

Both Puzzle Strike and Quarriors! try to get around shuffling by tossing their components in bags. It's a little faster.

schmanthony wrote:
Instead of shuffling your discard pile to create a new draw pile, "spent" cards could either go back to a general supply or to the bottom of your personal deck (probably in the order they are played). Thus, no more shuffling.

As I see it, the worst thing that would happen from this adjustment would be the introduction of a memory element. Is this the reason shuffling exists in deck building games, to eliminate this?


This would add more than just a memory element. Some players would micromanage the order they play or place their cards under their deck to put their best cards on top or to 'fix' their draws.
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Mark McEvoy
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schmanthony wrote:
As I see it, the worst thing that would happen from this adjustment would be the introduction of a memory element. Is this the reason shuffling exists in deck building games, to eliminate this?


Not so much memory, but keeping key combinations 'clumped' together... if your game is combination-centric, shuffling reduces the possibility of that combination always appearing together. In Dominion, Throne Room would become a lot more powerful a card if you could assure it always comes paired with a useful action. Now imagine a no-shuffle variant where it is always paired with your best action card every time it is drawn.
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Tim
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schmanthony wrote:

Anyone know of any deck building games that do not require in-game shuffling?


Fürstenfeld has a deck-building like mechanic, but instead of shuffling your deck you choose the order in which your discards go onto the bottom of your deck, with the goal being to organize things in such a way that the cards come back out in an order that benefits you. The game is 1 part dry euro and 1 part frantic race to the end (it's an economic game of market manipulation, but the victor is the person who builds all their building -- certain cards in the deck -- first).
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Goat Goatington
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A deck building mechanic without randomisation leads to some very odd mechanics. For example, I have a hand of lots of money and want to buy that awesome card. If all my cards are going to go back in the deck in the same order, my awesome card is about to come out again with a set of money. Now I need to keep using that money to build an awesome hand of cards until I've built my deck in such a way that every x turns I'm going to draw my perfect y card combo. The game ideal is now about visualising how your buy and discard order is going to create your future hands and less about simply picking a card that works well with other cards in your deck. What use is the second card of a combo now when the first part is at the other end of the deck and not moving?

Allowing players to manipulate their draw order heavily means that the game slows down and combos become all powerful. You'll always put your best combo cards together and anything not in a combo will be left as a 'leftover hand' until they can be built into a combo too.

Shuffling is simply the most efficient way to randomise a deck of cards. Other games use tiles or dice and let you draw from bags, which is a bit quicker, but ultimately it's the same. You play your deck, get some new bits, randomise and repeat.
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Joe Mucchiello
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thatmarkguy wrote:
Not so much memory, but keeping key combinations 'clumped' together... if your game is combination-centric, shuffling reduces the possibility of that combination always appearing together.

I can't imagine how you could overcome this issue without shuffling. Unless the only combos came from separate draw/discard decks somehow.
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David Gregg
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The main reason for shuffling that I know of is that you draw your cards faster then you acquire them. In most of the deckbuilders you draw 5-6 cards per turn but can only acquire 1 (some cases more). So your deck will empty rather fast requiring a shuffle. Now if you had a game where you were only allowed to play 1-2 cards per turn but could buy 2-3 then you certainly could just place them on the bottom of your deck and thus never need to shuffle.
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Andrew Walters
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Two people have posted about clumping but I want to point out a different aspect. When you have random elements in a game you need to have *enough* randomness that it will even out. If there's too little the random will help one player and hurt another and decide the game. When there's enough it's very likely to balance out, and 19 times out of 20 good play will decide it.

Without shuffling one player is likely to get a much better arrangement, whether that means having all the gold together so you can buy provinces or all the defense cards spread out so you always have one, etc. Since the arrangement won't change, it becomes a game-tilting random factor. Shuffling each time means sometimes I get a good arrangement and sometimes I get a bad arrangement, just like you, so play decides the winner, not the one shuffle.

I can think of several ways to preserve at least some randomness with cards while eliminating shuffling.

#1 play on BSW, ha, ha, ha

#2 You have a separate stack of cards that determines how everyone draws, and each round you flip a card to see how everyone draws that turn. These cards would say something like "put top two cards on the bottom, take three cards, put one more on the bottom, take remaining cards" or some such combination of drawing and "pre-discarding." This is a nuisance and would likely slow things down as much as shuffling.


#3 Card shuffling machines, probably one for each player, but at least two.

#4 Continuously shuffle your discards so that when you need a new draw pile you just need one final shuffle to finish.

#5 Instead of drawing off the top, draw from random places within the deck. If I'm playing dominion and need to shuffle the discards during my turn I sometimes do this to speed things up - give it one shuffle, then draw the cards I need from wherever in the middle and finish the turn, then shuffle.

Well, only one of my five methods actually eliminates shuffling, and it was impractical. The others just mitigated shuffling.

I think it's interesting that some people really don't like all that shuffling and some people don't care. I wonder if this is more of a perceived problem than an actual problem. Certainly deck-building games aren't suffering in the market...
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Brook Gentlestream
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schmanthony wrote:
Can anyone think of a way to reduce or eliminate the memory element that would be caused by my solution? One solution would be to turn the deck into a hand, but too many cards is too difficult to manage in a hand, while limiting the hand size would kill the ability to build a deck.


The Star Wars CCG had an interesting system of resources that could be used instead of shuffling.

Basically, whenever you gain resources, you take your top X cards from your deck and place them face-down in a resource pile.

As you spend resources, you could put those cards beneath your deck. Unspent resources stay in your resource pile.

This would have two effects:

1) There is a little bit of randomness as some resources are separated from the others on occasion as the natural flow of gameplay,

2) Although you can memorize where the cards are in your deck, this is less useful since you aren't as likely to draw those cards into your hand.


Of course #2 also messes a bit with the natural strategies of deck building games, but I think it could be interesting. It's certainly different from any deck building game out there.


Also, I believe damage done to you makes you discard cards from your deck. If your opponent had ample methods of forcing you to discard cards from your deck face-down, then that would also complicate any attempts at a memory technique..
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James Sitz
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andreww wrote:
I think it's interesting that some people really don't like all that shuffling and some people don't care. I wonder if this is more of a perceived problem than an actual problem. Certainly deck-building games aren't suffering in the market...


And then there's people like me who enjoy shuffling. It's something I missed when playing Dominion on isotropic.
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John "Omega" Williams
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There are ways to break up an order in a non-shuffle card game. Such as the fact that perhaps you have to discard one card out of the set each time, or some other mechanic that breaks up patterns. Such as having more than one stack to be drawing from, etc.

Some card games get wid of shuffling alltogether by shifting the focus to the cards played and the order played. The only one I can think of readily that did that was the online version of Superdudes.

In that you had to play 4 cards from your deck against 4 cards played by your opponent. The cards were then paired off in order and the effects applied. So you had instances where you might be trying to play a sequence that adds onto the next card in the chain for a big attack near the end. And hoping your opponent didnt second guess you and put a shield up, or wasnt whittling you away during your big charge up attack.

Though that is not really a deck building game I guess.
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Micah Fuller
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schmanthony wrote:

Instead of shuffling your discard pile to create a new draw pile, "spent" cards could either go back to a general supply or to the bottom of your personal deck (probably in the order they are played). Thus, no more shuffling.


I actually tried this in a recent design that started as more of a deck building game. Players complained that it was too fiddley and they didn't want to have to try to remember what cards were where in their deck.

The game evolved into a hand management game rather than a deck builder which gets around both the shuffling and the memory/fiddleyness issues.
Of course it no longer uses deck building, so...

I would lean towards "yes" being the answer to your question, arguing that if you change it enough to not have shuffling, it's either not a good game or not a deck-builder anymore. I'm open to being proven wrong though.
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Mark McEvoy
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I think it's possible to have a deck-builder without shuffling. The entire nature of the game would be the sequencing of your deck - much like the nature of Bohnanza is the sequencing of your hand and the nature of Guillotine is the sequencing of the execution line. The whole game would have to be built around this concept though - card costings would have to take into account the power each card has if its pairing with other complementary cards is assured. Other players' 'attacks' would largely be based on disruption of your sequence - the result of an attack could be to force an unwanted resequence of your deck (cuts, shuffles, insertions, substitutions).
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Nate K
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I've only really skimmed this thread, so it's possible someone already brought this up and I just didn't notice.

Decks of cards are shuffled for the purpose of randomization, right? And the reason randomization is good (for the game, at least, if not always for the players) is because the players cannot predict when they will draw a certain card or combination of cards.

Deck-building games require a lot of shuffling, because they are designed with this very randomization in mind.

But what if the randomization came from somewhere else?

What if, instead of shuffling, the randomization came from not know the number of cards one would draw?

You could have a deck-building game wherein new cards are added to the bottom of the deck, and discarded hands are also placed on the bottom of the deck in the order the player chooses. In this situation, there is the obvious risk of a player memorizing the order of the cards in his or her deck.

To alleviate this, you could have the player roll a die at the beginning of each turn to determine the number of cards he or she will draw. You would probably want some sort of custom sixe-sided die, with a distribution of, say, three 3s, two 4s, and a 5, or something along those lines. The number rolled indicates the number of cards to be drawn.

This way, players cannot always assemble their best cards or card combinations in the same hand. "If I can just roll a 4 this turn, I can draw Powerful Ally and Mystic Visitor in the same hand and generate six Force in the same turn! ...Three! Dammit!"

If that turns out to still be too powerful, you could add an element of risk. Certain cards can be "unstable," and if they are ever in your hand at the same time as a trigger card, the unstable card "detonates" and is permanently discarded. There are a number of ways this could be done, but the easiest would probably be to give each card a color, and have the unstable cards marked in one corner with a particular color. If you have the unstable card in your hand in tandem with the trigger color, the unstable card is lost before you get to use it that turn.

That way, there are times when you specifically want to roll a low number, to keep certain cards in your deck!
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Jeff Warrender
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Or for a different take on the idea, there's no reason a player has to be limited to only a single discard pile, or a single draw pile. If he's required to distribute spent cards across several piles, maybe that reduces the "clumping" concern while also avoiding the tediousness of shuffling. (To a certain extent...in a different sense it just distributes the problem over multiple hands; but at least, it makes it so you can't have the same hand over and over).

Maybe once his current draw pile is exhausted, he may choose which pile he draws from, or maybe the discard piles are just stacked to form a new composite draw pile. Maybe in some implementation of an idea like this, if a player has X piles and X + Y cards, the Y cards must be distributed into the discard piles of other players. That could be an interesting way to produce player interaction in a deck building game; you want to "get rid" of stuff that's not useful to you, but must be careful that you're not giving someone something that's extremely useful to them.
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ErikPeter Walker
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Ha!

I agree with the general sentiment found in the replies to this thread.

The reason you use cards AT ALL is because you can shuffle them, creating myriad tactical card combinations (i.e. hands) to deal with. If you want to create a game without all the shuffling, why not get rid of (most) of the cards, too?

For example, consider a variation of dominion which still has 10 face up stock piles (and some other static choices, gold, estates, etc). But when players buy a card, instead of taking it and putting it in their deck, they put a token of their color on it.

Now when you take your turn, you get to "activate" any 5 tokens that you wish. But once they're activated (i.e. discarded) you can't use (draw) them again until all of your tokens have been used--that is, you've gone through your whole deck. Some actions let you activate more tokens (draws), some might let you remove (trash) tokens... In effect, you've gotten rid of the deck but kept the core mechanics--besides the randomness of your draws--intact. And you get rid of the memory element, which is annoying, but keep the "undesirable VP cards make your deck suck more" one.

You'd want to use double-sided tokens, a la Fearsome Floors, to keep track of which are activated and which are not.
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Trent Hamm
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Why shuffle?

Try playing Dominion with this variant.

At the start of the game, each player may put their library in any order he or she wishes before drawing their initial five.

At the end of each turn, take all cards in your discard pile, put them in any order you wish, and put those cards face down on the bottom of your library.

This makes for a much longer, much more brain-burning, much more math-y game with no shuffling. It's a very different experience.
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Andrew Snyder
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don't use cards.Quarriors! &Puzzle Strike are fine games, and I've seen Dominion on chips.
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Mark McEvoy
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trenttsd wrote:
Why shuffle?

Try playing Dominion with this variant.

At the start of the game, each player may put their library in any order he or she wishes before drawing their initial five.

At the end of each turn, take all cards in your discard pile, put them in any order you wish, and put those cards face down on the bottom of your library.

This makes for a much longer, much more brain-burning, much more math-y game with no shuffling. It's a very different experience.


Longer? Wha? You can set up exactly the combos you want. Barring people playing deliberate disruption/stall strategies, this would be a lightspeed sprint to the finish line.

A for-instance:

1: 2copper3estate: Chapel (place Chapel, 3estate, 2copper on bottom of lib)
2: 5copper: Laboratory (place Laboratory, 5 copper on bottom of lib)
3: Chapel, 3 est, 1 copper. Use chapel to trash 3 estate + 1 copper. (Chapel on bottom of deck.)
4: 4 copper and a lab: play lab, draw 2 more copper, buy Gold.
5: chapel, lab, gold, 2 copper: play lab, 2 more copper, buy Gold.
6-7-8-9-10: Province every turn.

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Nate K
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I feel obligated to point out a game that managed to created deck-building-like decisions using a set of cards, but eliminated any need for shuffling during the game: Zodiac. Very interesting mechanic of rotating through the cards so that only half of them are available at any given time.
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Mark McEvoy
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thatmarkguy wrote:
trenttsd wrote:
Why shuffle?

Try playing Dominion with this variant.

At the start of the game, each player may put their library in any order he or she wishes before drawing their initial five.

At the end of each turn, take all cards in your discard pile, put them in any order you wish, and put those cards face down on the bottom of your library.

This makes for a much longer, much more brain-burning, much more math-y game with no shuffling. It's a very different experience.


Longer? Wha? You can set up exactly the combos you want. Barring people playing deliberate disruption/stall strategies, this would be a lightspeed sprint to the finish line.

A for-instance:

1: 2copper3estate: Chapel (place Chapel, 3estate, 2copper on bottom of lib)
2: 5copper: Laboratory (place Laboratory, 5 copper on bottom of lib)
3: Chapel, 3 est, 1 copper. Use chapel to trash 3 estate + 1 copper. (Chapel on bottom of deck.)
4: 4 copper and a lab: play lab, draw 2 more copper, buy Gold.
5: chapel, lab, gold, 2 copper: play lab, 2 more copper, buy Gold.
6-7-8-9-10: Province every turn.



No, wait, I think I've got this beat. Chancellor becomes the uber-powercard.

1. c-c-c-c-c: Buy Chancellor; Chancellor-copper-copper-copper-copper-Copper
2. c-c-e-e-e: Buy Estate. Order doesn't matter.
3. Chancellor-c-c-c-c: use Chancellor, buy gold. Top of deck becomes Chan-g-c-c-c, the rest doesn't matter.
4. Chancellor-g-c-c-c: use Chancellor, buy Province. Top of deck becomes Chan-g-c-c-c, the rest doesn't matter.
5. Chancellor-g-c-c-c: use Chancellor, buy Province. Top of deck becomes Chan-g-c-c-c, the rest doesn't matter.
6. Chancellor-g-c-c-c: use Chancellor, buy Province. Top of deck becomes Chan-g-c-c-c, the rest doesn't matter.
7. Chancellor-g-c-c-c: use Chancellor, buy Province. Top of deck becomes Chan-g-c-c-c, the rest doesn't matter.
8. Chancellor-g-c-c-c: use Chancellor, buy Province. Top of deck becomes Chan-g-c-c-c, the rest doesn't matter.

So by the end of turn 8 you've got 5 Provinces and 4 Estates.



Or, the disruption-immune version:
1. Chancellor
2. Moat
3. Use chancellor, buy gold, stack deck with Chan-moat-G-c-c
4. Use chancellor, buy gold, stack deck with Chan-moat-G-G-c
5. Use chancellor, buy province, stack deck with Chan-moat-G-G-c
6. goto 5

If you play first, that's immune to attack disruption. From the end of your third turn (which is before your opponent has had a chance to play any action cards), you've got a moat in hand.
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