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Subject: A pretty good game, with one critical flaw rss

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Dave B.
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On the surface, Take a Chance looks an awful lot like Yahtzee. And you could be forgiven for thinking that, because the mechanic of rolling the dice is in fact quite similar to Yahtzee. To score points, i.e. money, you roll, and based on the combinations you form, you get a payout.

Take a Chance adds quite a bit more to the formula, though, with additional mechanics that will be familiar to anybody who's played Monopoly, Ticket to Ride, or Roll Through the Ages. But by borrowing only a little of each from those other games, it's kept from becoming too bloated. There is, however, one critical flaw, that I'll get to later.

The Goal
The gameplay isn't terribly complicated, though the clarity of the rules could stand to be improved. There are "cards" - 6 each of 6 different kinds - which show different dice combinations you're trying to roll, and the payouts for each. Each card has a purchase price ranging from $1,000 to $6,000. These cards are extremely important, as alone, the dice rolls have no value. It's purely by purchasing cards that you assign value to the rolls. You may own any number of a single type of card, which will multiply your payouts accordingly, and there is no limit to the number of cards you can buy (other than the fact that the game only includes 36 of them).

All players begin with one of the purple cards, which has the lowest value at $1,000 (and naturally gives the lowest payouts, for the easiest rolls). Players also start with $10,000 cash from the supplied Monopoly-like bills, and a concealed stack of three additional cards which only they may purchase. The goal of the game is to finish with the most assets, counted as cash-on-hand plus the price of all cards purchased.

How To Play
When it's your turn, you can do one of three different things (Ticket to Ride similarity alert!):

1. Buy one of the payout cards, either from your own concealed stack of three, or from a "pool" of three face-up cards, and put it in play in front of you. (This "pool" mechanic will also look similar to Ticket to Ride players, though you don't have the option to buy blind from the face-down deck.) After you buy a card, either from your private stack, or from the pool, replace it with the next card on top of the deck. The money spent goes back to the bank.

2. Roll the dice. You get the two black dice, plus one extra die for each different color of payout card that you have in play. Thus, you can roll 8 dice if you have all 6. (Kind of like building cities in Roll Through the Ages.) You get one re-roll, instead of the two that Yahtzee affords. Then you choose one combination that you wish to score; e.g. "two pair", "three of a kind", "full house"; and then receive the payout denoted by every card you own with that particular combination on it.

3. Reveal the top card in your "ticket" deck, and resolve the effect.

The Infernal Ticket Deck
The special "Take a Chance Tickets" are dealt face-down to each player at the beginning of the game; normally each player gets 6. They're similar to the Chance and Community Chest cards of Monopoly, and have assorted effects that are generally beneficial - roll extra dice, take multiple actions on your turn, buy cards at a discount, etc. They also have one other very significant effect: as soon as a player has used his last ticket, all players get one final turn, and the game ends.

This is where the one major problem arises. During the game, you'll generally only want to pull a ticket if you see yourself at a disadvantage, in order to hopefully catch up. Doing that, however, brings the game nearer to a close, which would be shooting yourself in the foot. So you'll typically have the lagging player(s) sitting there with just one more ticket remaining trying to catch up, while the leading players keep getting fatter and fatter wallets, with no real psychological incentive to hit the ticket deck, and end the game with a win.

Casual Crowd Take Caution
Someone who plays a lot of games would likely spot the necessity of burning off tickets so that they can end the game while in the lead, but as Take a Chance is obviously marketed toward the more casual Yahtzee set, this point can easily be overlooked, and cause the game drag on to the point where everybody decides they don't like it anymore. And it's a shame, because everything else about the game struck me as solid, and rather entertaining. The strategy is clearly much deeper than Yahtzee. But the fact is without players deliberately trying to bring the game to a close, Take a Chance just drags on indefinitely, and everybody is going to get sick of it. This is a game that would have greatly benefited from a little more time in the oven to cook up a better end-game condition. (I'd be interested in hearing ideas, as I enjoyed everything else the game offers.)
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Dave B.
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Okay, I think I know how to fix the game.

1. Put the Take a Chance tickets in one deck that anybody can draw from. They now have no bearing on ending the game. When they're gone, they're gone.

2. Give each player 12 poker chips (or something similar - use trains from Ticket to Ride if you want to make a humorous jab at all the subtle similarities to that game). If a player chooses to roll on their turn, they spend one chip. As soon as a player is left with only one chip, the final round begins, and all players get one more turn. Take a Chance tickets that instruct you to roll don't require spending a chip.

3. For scoring purposes at the end of the game, the payout cards are only worth 10% (or some easy fraction) of their purchase price.

I need to see what percentage of the Take a Chance tickets instruct you to roll and score. If it's too high, then drawing a ticket might need to require spending a chip as well (with a suitable increase in the starting supply of chips).
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Richard Ghilardi
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I think your fix is a pretty sound one, Dave. Here's how I would tweak it:
Quote:
1. Put the Take a Chance tickets in one deck that anybody can draw from. They now have no bearing on ending the game. When they're gone, they're gone.
Yes, but don't play with a full deck. (I haven't for years.) Six for each player (as the rules say), randomly selected, in one deck will do just fine.
Quote:
2. Give each player 12 poker chips...I need to see what percentage of the Take a Chance tickets instruct you to roll and score. If it's too high, then drawing a ticket might need to require spending a chip as well (with a suitable increase in the starting supply of chips).
Here's the breakdown of the TAC tickets:
42% tell you to roll
22% tell you something else
36% tell you to roll OR something else (usually receive cash).
So, I propose that the # of chips be raised to 15 (more than that and the 4- and 5-player games become monstrously long) and that only when a ticket instructs you to roll (or you take the roll option when given a choice) will it cost you a chip.
Quote:
3. For scoring purposes at the end of the game, the payout cards are only worth 10% (or some easy fraction) of their purchase price.
I don't see what good purpose discounting the payout cards serves. It seems to merely add another layer of calculation to the scoring. But perhaps I've missed something here. I'm open to enlightenment.
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Dave B.
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Oecolampad wrote:
Here's the breakdown of the TAC tickets:
42% tell you to roll
22% tell you something else
36% tell you to roll OR something else (usually receive cash).
So, I propose that the # of chips be raised to 15 (more than that and the 4- and 5-player games become monstrously long) and that only when a ticket instructs you to roll (or you take the roll option when given a choice) will it cost you a chip.


I like that idea. Since the final round would begin when one person has one chip left, you shouldn't ever end up in a position where you have to roll, but have no chips left.

Oecolampad wrote:
Quote:
3. For scoring purposes at the end of the game, the payout cards are only worth 10% (or some easy fraction) of their purchase price.
I don't see what good purpose discounting the payout cards serves. It seems to merely add another layer of calculation to the scoring. But perhaps I've missed something here. I'm open to enlightenment.


My thinking was that buying the cards becomes a no-brainer, with no risk/reward. Though perhaps spending turns buying cards while other players use up their rolls, and also leaving yourself with too little cash to buy the really good cards that come up would be enough.

I'm thinking perhaps the game should be changed so that players don't have their own hidden deck of cards to purchase, but rather make five of them available face-up at a time. Sort of like the face-up train cards in Ticket to Ride, the building market in Alhambra, etc.
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Richard Ghilardi
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Quote:
My thinking was that buying the cards becomes a no-brainer, with no risk/reward. Though perhaps spending turns buying cards while other players use up their rolls, and also leaving yourself with too little cash to buy the really good cards that come up would be enough.
Hmmm... Maybe you were on the right track after all. You just didn't take it far enough. Why not ditch the salvage value altogether? Not 10% but 0% salvage value at the end of the game! Then, in order to realize any profit from a payout card, you have to roll the dice enough times to bring your revenue up past the purchase price. How many times is that? Only by playing lots of games can that question begin to be answered. Zero salvage value should also help to balance out the free cash flowing from the TAC cards.
Quote:
I'm thinking perhaps the game should be changed so that players don't have their own hidden deck of cards to purchase, but rather make five of them available face-up at a time.
Sure, this is a good idea. The less hidden info, the better. But 3 decks are enough. Five open decks could push the AP to alarming levels!
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Dave B.
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Oecolampad wrote:
Quote:
I'm thinking perhaps the game should be changed so that players don't have their own hidden deck of cards to purchase, but rather make five of them available face-up at a time.
Sure, this is a good idea. The less hidden info, the better. But 3 decks are enough. Five open decks could push the AP to alarming levels!


I don't think it would be too bad. The existing rules have you placing three face-up cards from a single deck, and this would just be increasing that to five face-up cards and scrapping the secret individual purchase decks. And there are still only six different types of cards to work with.
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Richard Ghilardi
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davidbrit2 wrote:
Oecolampad wrote:
Quote:
I'm thinking perhaps the game should be changed so that players don't have their own hidden deck of cards to purchase, but rather make five of them available face-up at a time.
Sure, this is a good idea. The less hidden info, the better. But 3 decks are enough. Five open decks could push the AP to alarming levels!


I don't think it would be too bad. The existing rules have you placing three face-up cards from a single deck, and this would just be increasing that to five face-up cards and scrapping the secret individual purchase decks. And there are still only six different types of cards to work with.

I am such a dope! I missed the part about "to purchase". I thought you were talking about the TAC deck. Five face-up decks for the payout cards would be just fine!

I think we've worked out the big problems in the rules for now. Thanks for helping me think this through. Now let's play a lot of TAC and see how well our revisions work.
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