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Subject: Saboteur in the classroom rss

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Martin B
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Now for the second week of my "Closed System Economics" game playing class. This week we played Saboteur, mostly for the fact that I had three copies of the game so everyone could play with minimal effort from me. As I said in my earlier session report for the game For Sale this class is focused on economic mechanics of board games. The students will be required to write session reports and make a video review at the end of the ten week course.

At the end of class last week I showed them one of the video reviews and at the beginning of class this week I showed them another one. I'm not sure they are getting much of the game play from the videos. I still need to explain and show a large part of the game to them. I'll be making a video myself for the next game, Container, so I'll try to better help them understand the concepts.

The groups that were set up were very similar to the groups last week. There was the group of academic girls who had eight players, another group of girls who had six players, and a mixed group of girls and boys who had a whopping eleven players, though I did tell them that the game was for up to ten players.

The eight player group finished the first round first. The gold diggers won the firs round and I helped them with the gold distribution. The second round the saboteurs won. I'm not sure who won the last round but I saw that they were taking notes, for their required sessions reports, so I would imagine getting a report from at least one of them on the game. (I said they were studious)

The six player game was a little slower than the eight, which I found surprising. They did seem to be having the most fun at the game. The first round the gold diggers won by having one of the saboteurs completing the tunnel. I guess I didn't explain that quite well enough. Anyway, their next two games went alright.

The eleven player game went predictably slow. They even started over after I pointed out some illegal tunnel placements. I know they finished at least two rounds but I'm not sure if they got through the third. They started getting into it and it got smoother as they felt they knew what they were doing.

One student at the end of class came up to me and said it was fun but it wasn't an economic game. I had to agree with her on that one. I just explained that the hidden information mechanic will be used next week with Container. Flimsy pretense, I know. Still a fun class. I always enjoy seeing students discover new things, like games, that they would normally not be exposed to, and enjoy them.
 
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Bruce Glassco
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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This sounds like an interesting project. It sounds like you want several qualifications for a game:
1) teaches economics
2) easy to explain
3) scales well for large numbers

I'd say the perfect game for all three would be Incan Gold. It works just fine with up to ten and I've taught it to 8-year-olds with no problem. It also has the advantage that there players don't necessarily hose themselves with "wrong" decisions -- running early, for instance, can pay off well if the rest of the players hit an early explosion.

I think it also teaches the fundamentals of economic activity well. There are two things that motivate you in this game: greed and fear, just like the stock market! It also teaches you that, if you're behind, it's a good idea to start taking more risks. Usually, the big risk-takers and the nervous nellies lose out to those in the middle, but both strategies still win often enough to make you weigh them heavily.
 
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Martin B
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Seattle
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It has been fun planning it.

1) Definitely having an economic theme is a must.

2) Easy to explain is helpful but not necessary. I'm hoping that their listening improves or English reading to figure out how to play. If they have to work more at it that is not a problem. That is why I try to find games that have video reviews so they can watch, listen and learn. There still is some time given over to learning the mechanics but I hope this will get smoother with more experience of the similar mechanics such as auctions/bidding.

3) As far as scaling for large numbers it is helpful. Some games, which don't necessarily scale well I will be fabricating extra copies for them to use. Such as Acquire is very easy to make your own copies.

Availability is also an issue and I am never sure what I can track down here in Shanghai. A lot of the games that I come across are pirated editions, which isn't all bad, but often have Chinese on the components which kind of defeats the whole purpose. For example, my copy of La Havre has half the cards in English and half in Chinese.

I was planning on visiting the game store today so I'll see if they have Incan Gold. Sounds like it might be a good one. I'm always open to suggestions.
 
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George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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You could play a version of Incan Gold with a standard card deck.
 
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Jordi Pereira
Spain
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I am teaching a course in Decision and Game Theory to future B.Sc. Engineers in Barcelona.

I divided the course in two parts (theoretical and practical). Every monday I give them a lecture on basic decision theory (from the Bayes theorem to cooperative game theory), and every friday, they play for two hours.

The game I chose for the six first practical lessons has been MODERN ART. I have already done two sessions and the students have managed to play the game from beginning to end every time (they are divided in six different five player games).

I evaluate the students with an exam every other friday where they are "forced" to apply the theory on the game. It's an interesting experience, far better than my regular game theory courses to M.Sc. Engineering students (where around half the class fails the final exam).

Next game (I'll use it on two or three sessions) will be ATON.

Jordi
 
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dino sissi
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Hei!Are you teaching the class at Shanghai? I wanna know more about your class? Maybe I can help you someway.
I'm a native Chinese.
 
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Martin B
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Game I did last Sunday was also Modern Art. That worked out pretty well after having a short reminder at the beginning of class about the importance of following all the rules, even the ones that make winning more difficult. (we had some issues in Container)

I'm hoping I can find more ways to bring more games into some of my other classes too. I've been using games to tutor students for years and at extra-curricular events.
 
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Andrew Staines
United Kingdom
Grimsby
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Cargo Noir would be great for this!

Alternatively you could do away with the board game and teach economics the way my economics teacher taught us...

She gave us all 3 pieces of paper, scissors one between two and a variety of different templates (some you could get 2 to a sheet, some 3/4/5/6...) now we had to spend the first half cutting them out. Then move around the classroom and haggle/trade to get a full set

Obviously the ones where you could only get 2 on a sheet were worth more and that was the main point of the lesson, the link between scarcity and supply and demmand. It was a fun first lesson
 
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