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Subject: Poll: Sand Timer - Hate / Love ? rss

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Toco
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Can you handle the stress?

Poll
Do you like using the sand timer or do you hate it and prefer not to use it in a game of RoboRally?
I like using the sand timer in RoboRally games.
I prefer NOT to use the sand timer in RoboRally games.
      160 answers
Poll created by tocoking


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Hated the thought of it until I actually started using it. Now I always use it except for teaching games.
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Paul Roberts
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We started using one of those cheap electronic cooking timers.

The rule we had was once the buzzer went you had to put your cards down, if you had nothing down you have to put the appropriate number of cards down at random from your hand.

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Toco
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The last player to put cards down has 30 seconds to program his registers. When time's up, the player to his/her right chooses the cards. This really speeds up the game, because you don't want to be last and face the time limit.
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Simon Lundström
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Have never found the reason to use this when we play casually. In tournaments, I implement it after a while. It's only a problem if people take too long programming, and usually, they don't.
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Ian McCarthy
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The timer actually tends to increase the enjoyment for all players, as long as no one is actually stressed in an unfun way by it, because the only downtime in this game is when you're finished programming and waiting for others to finish. With the timer enforcement comes a significant reduction of that downtime, as many players will be interested to see if anyone suffers the enjoyable stress of being put on the timer.

And there's nothing like perfecting that incredibly difficult program just as the last grains of sand run through. Those are the stories you tell.
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Kevin Riddle

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it really helps speed it up, but as stated, never use it when teaching a newcomer how to play
hmm, I need to break that one out again ...
 
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Willy Schroers
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In some situations you just need more time to think about programming your robot. It's a frustrating aspect but it indeed speeds up the game.
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Mi Myma
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In my experience, the timer makes the game longer - because more mistakes are made, less forward progress is made in each turn, etc.

Sure, each individual *turn* goes faster, but the overall *game* does not. Six turns at ten minutes each, or twelve turns at five minutes each - what's the difference?

I also find that the timer hurts less experienced players far more than experienced ones. This is frustrating for them and runs counter to getting more people to play the game.

It is perfectly normal for a player in a particularly difficult situation and particularly lousy cards to take a longer than usual time to program his robot. Using the timer just makes a bad situation worse.

If one player is taking an inordinately long time to program his robot *every* turn, then yes, that's a problem. This problem would be better solved with a chess-clock-like timing method, where you get a large block of time for all your turns, which you can use as needed. The way to implement this would be to have several longer timers (one for each player). When everyone gets their cards, everyone turns their timers over, and when they're done programming, they turn the timers on their sides so they stop (or it can be done electronically). This way everyone has a running total of the time they've spent programming. A player who is consistently slow will run out of time, while a player who has one difficult turn won't be unduly penalized for taking a long time *once*.

And you can decide what happens when a player's time runs out - lose a life, take a point of damage, take X points of damage, be eliminated from the game, or whatever is agreed to.
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Toco
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The sand timer MAYBE makes the game longer, but it shortens downtime. And that's what kills game-fun for me.

Also, the general idea behind RoboRally is programs getting messed up and robots not behaving according to plan. So this bad programming because of lack of time adds to the basic principles of the game.

That's why I like using the timer.

ps: Yeah, less experienced players suffer more. But that's how life works. Play more, learn, get better. If everybody was equally skilled, there wouldn't be much competition, right?

ps2: Anyway, thanks for answering the poll! It offers insight.
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Mi Myma
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tocoking wrote:
Also, the general idea behind RoboRally is programs getting messed up and robots not behaving according to plan. So this bad programming because of lack of time adds to the basic principles of the game.

No. "No plan because you didn't have time" does not add to the principle of "Not behaving according to plan". There's nothing interesting about random things happening because you programmed randomly. There's nothing surprising when there was no plan in the first place.

Quote:
If everybody was equally skilled, there wouldn't be much competition, right?

What? No. If everybody is equally skilled, there is much more competition, and it's much more interesting.
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Luke Stirling
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
tocoking wrote:
Also, the general idea behind RoboRally is programs getting messed up and robots not behaving according to plan. So this bad programming because of lack of time adds to the basic principles of the game.

No. "No plan because you didn't have time" does not add to the principle of "Not behaving according to plan". There's nothing interesting about random things happening because you programmed randomly. There's nothing surprising when there was no plan in the first place.

Quote:
If everybody was equally skilled, there wouldn't be much competition, right?

What? No. If everybody is equally skilled, there is much more competition, and it's much more interesting.

I don't think this is a black and white matter. It can come down to a question of degrees. There's a big difference between "programmed randomly", and a sub-optimal choice of card while under some degree of pressure. For example, I have had otherwise good programs go awry because the pressure of the timer led me to choose a card with too high or too low an initiative value opening me up to disruption from a nearby robot. Sometimes with hilarious results.

On the other hand, I have played other games where there have been tense, slow stand-offs between players (either without a timer, or with everybody reluctant to set it in motion) that are equally enjoyable.

The timer does have the potential to increase the chaos in the game to some degree. Depending on personalities involved this can be a positive or a negative.
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Paul Roberts
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I think a timer and any tension involved fit the theme perfectly.

After all lest we not forget this is a RACE, you do not see the pit crew on F1 for example carefully debating the perfect setup during a pit stop!

I agree that using a timer is not for everyone, but if you have a group of players with potential AP then a timer is a perfect solution to preventing the fun element of this game being lost.

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Jeff Finazzo
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I rather like the map where the sand timer is flipped at the beginning of the programming phase. Makes for some interesting pile-ups.

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Mathias H
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We love the idea, but personly archieved pure hatred to our personal sand timer.

Often the sand stops ...that puts the idea of a timer to death
 
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Randall Bart
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The Blur wrote:
Often the sand stops ...that puts the idea of a timer to death

The rule is that when all players but one are finished programming then start the timer. If the time stops, there is more than one bored person available to tap it. If you are setting the timer before programming begins, that's a much tougher game, but still the timer gets tapped when it gets tapped.

I never played in a group where we needed it, but we used it as an empty threat.
 
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Eric Seymour
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Frantic Ferret wrote:
I rather like the map where the sand timer is flipped at the beginning of the programming phase. Makes for some interesting pile-ups.



I prefer to use a longer timer (say, 2-3 minutes) which starts at the beginning of programming. That way everyone knows how much time they are going to have. There will still be enough mistakes and unanticipated collisions to keep it fun.
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Richard Sampson
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Frantic Ferret wrote:
I rather like the map where the sand timer is flipped at the beginning of the programming phase. Makes for some interesting pile-ups.

I prefer to play this way on all the maps.
 
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Aaron Gelb
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tocoking wrote:
The last player to put cards down has 30 seconds to program his registers. When time's up, the player to his/her right chooses the cards. This really speeds up the game, because you don't want to be last and face the time limit.


This is what we use. Except that people who don't fill out their register in time just have that many less moves that turn.
 
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asgelb wrote:
Except that people who don't fill out their register in time just have that many less moves that turn.

You allow no-ops? thumbsdownyuk
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Ian McCarthy
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Barticus88 wrote:
asgelb wrote:
Except that people who don't fill out their register in time just have that many less moves that turn.

You allow no-ops? thumbsdownyuk


Yeah, that's giving the slowpoke an unfair advantage.
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Brian M
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My minor (but valid I think) complaint about the timer is that is exaggerates luck and runaway leaders; a player getting a good hand and sitting in the lead without pesky opposing robots in the way has a much easier time programming than someone struggling with a tricky hand.

My major complaint about the timer is that, for us, it adds downtime in big games. In Roborally, there's a lot of card shuffing and dealing going on. So, we have the fastest and best card shuffler and most organized player keeping on top of that and getting the cards shuffled and dealing them out. However, if you are using the timer, everyone has to wait on looking at their cards until all the cards are dealt - otherwise people later in turn order around the table, and especially the dealer are at a disadvantage.
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Yao-ban Chan
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I cut my RoboRally teeth on the AI implementation at Game Table Online. The AIs there are killer, and always put their program down instantly, so I invariably have 30 seconds for my entire programming phase. Sure, this leads to the occasional garbled program, but it's much more exciting and I've gotten used to it. So I encourage a stronger time limit than the official rule.

I've been trying to convince people to turn the timer when the first person finishes, in order to increase the pressure, but there seldom are any takers for that variant, unfortunately. One useful rule can be made in capture-the-flag mode: flip the timer when one team finishes. It achieves a similar effect, and occasionally a team gets together to rush their program - teamwork, one might say
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Ian McCarthy
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Brian, the fastest way to deal is to make piles. Count out how many cards you're dealing into the piles and have the neighbor of the dealer hand out the piles for people who need fewer cards. No one gets to look at their cards until everybody has their cards in hand.

Using the sand timer should make your game faster, as there will inevitably be several of those tricky turns where one person's brain freezes. I haven't seen the leader have life any easier. Usually, the leaders are just the best players, so they program faster. If you're trying to plan perfectly for interference from other robots, you're doing it wrong.
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Brian M
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Quote:
Using the sand timer should make your game faster, as there will inevitably be several of those tricky turns where one person's brain freezes.

But it doesn't make the game faster, because the time we lose waiting for everyone to pick up their cards (we can deal to make sure the newest players get their cards and can start programming first) is greater than time we gain by cutting off a player who is going slow.

And, if they are going slow, it's probably because they are in a bad position with lousy cards. I'd rather they actually got to try to make a clever move and recover!
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