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London (first edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: Verdict on "Ben & Zen-Luca" 2 player variant rss

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Tyler Hafen
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I'm planning on playing London with 2 players for the first time next week, and am thinking of using the "Ben & Zen-Luca" variant.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/621605/the-ben-luca-2-pl...

In the original thread a few people said that this variant worked really well, but it's been dormant for a few months, so I just wanted to bring it up again to see if more people have been trying it and get an idea of what you think. Is this the best way to keep London interesting with 2 players? Has anyone tried both this and the Finbar Swift variant?

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/618833/two-player-varian...

How do they compare?

I'll put up my own report when I've tried it out.
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Steve Duff
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Well, I'm biased of course, but I'd try mine first. cool

I'm not saying it's the best or anything, but it's simple and easy to remember and implement. The Finbar variant looks complicated to setup, and removes so many cards and map areas it reduces the game space.

Myself, what I like in a game is when the direction a game takes is based on what the players do. If the players decide to build south of the river, then that's the area in contention. Next game, they might be fighting over a different area of the map. Or, one game I'm heavily into card type X, then next game card type Y.
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Tyler Hafen
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Well, I'm biased of course, but I'd try mine first. cool


Nothing wrong with being biased when you've helped come up with a good solution to a problem.

Thanks for posting your variant. It's the one we're going to try first. It does seem like the most simple and elegant way to keep things interesting with two players, and I agree that keeping things more open is probably a better idea, at least for how I like to play.

Anyone else out there who has tried one of these variants?
 
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Ken Dilloo
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I have tried the Ben n' Zen-Luca, a few times, and it works very well. Thought the other one was a good idea, but I don't like removing cards, for many reasons. One of them is if you only have one copy, of a card, only one player has a chance to draw and play it. Only being allowed to have one copy of a card at a time eliminates some of the overpowered cards, in two player. Makes for more interesting decisions, by forcing you to either hold, or put the card on the display.
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Tyler Hafen
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After going back over the rules, I have one question about the "Ben & Zen-Luca" variant. Do you limit the card display to 3 columns in this variant, as the rules say you should when playing two players, or do you use 4 columns? I ask because in the variant you put a neutral marker on a borough every time you clear a row on the card display, and I'm wondering if only having 3 cards per row would cause the card display to be cleared so often that the neutral player takes most of the boroughs.

I just wanted to check on this before I try it out.
 
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Steve Duff
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awesomeunclet wrote:
After going back over the rules, I have one question about the "Ben & Zen-Luca" variant. Do you limit the card display to 3 columns in this variant, as the rules say you should when playing two players, or do you use 4 columns?


Just the normal 3 columns as specified by a 2 player game.

We haven't found that it fills up too quickly, because it becomes something you're aware of as you play. "Gee, if I discard now, another district will be gone", or "I'd better take a loan and buy a district, they're really going quickly this game", etc.

The pace varies from game to game depending on your play style.
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Tyler Hafen
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We finally got around to playing a 2 player game tonight using the Ben and Zen-Luca variant, and I was impressed. It was a very simple and elegant way of keeping the game tight and the length down with 2 players. This is the way we're going to keep playing it with 2. Great game, although my wife destroyed me this time around. Maybe we'll have another go at it tomorrow.
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Fran Diaz
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This variant makes the poverty management harder & the gameplay shorter: the two main things that make the "vanilla" game with 2 players boring compared to 3-4 players gameplay.
London is now one of our favorite 2 players games and the most played in the past month.
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Anson Bischoff
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The variant works very well. The game is faster, poverty matters more, and certain broken strategies are subdued.
 
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Francesco Meucci
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What is the average length of the 2 players game using these variants?
Thank you!
 
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Christian Nold
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Hi there,

Hope somebody could clear up some confusion for me. We played 2 player with the "Ben & Zen-Luca" variant and noticed that we zoomed through the game. Sometimes we triggered the dummy player twice on a single players turn when playing cards or discarding with the hand limit.
This meant that the dummy player sometimes discarded 2 lots of cards for 2 boroughs. In the end we only managed to run our cities 3 or 4 times before the whole game ended. The scores were also really low in the 40s. I don't get the feeling this is how the game is meant to be played.

What is going on? Are we making some mistake? Should we be choosing to take cards from the card display rather than the stack? Is the problem that we allowing our hands to go above the hand limit too easily - discarding cards and thus thereby triggering the dummy player?

Should we really put down a new dummy player property when just a row has to be cleared? Maybe we should tweak the variant and wipe the whole card display?

Thanks for any thoughts
Christian

 
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Steve Duff
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softhook wrote:
Hope somebody could clear up some confusion for me. We played 2 player with the "Ben & Zen-Luca" variant and noticed that we zoomed through the game. Sometimes we triggered the dummy player twice on a single players turn when playing cards or discarding with the hand limit.
This meant that the dummy player sometimes discarded 2 lots of cards for 2 boroughs.


It sounds to me like you're not playing correctly, and there's a rules error somewhere. Generally on most turns, you're not discarding cards at all, so many turns go by without any change in the board at all.

When you choose the Play Cards action, you never hit the hand limit and never flush then.

When you Run City, you want as few cards as possible in your hand to avoid poverty, so you rarely flush then. Sometimes running requires spending cards so it can happen.

When you Buy Land, large amounts of cards can come in, so generally you're choosing that option when you've got room in your hand for the cards you'll receive.

Take Three Cards is rarely chosen as an action, and you're not choosing it when you have no room for cards (unless you're intentionally trying to burn through cards because you're holding crap).

The entire point of my variant is to leave it under the players control almost the entire time. For example, if you know you're going to run your city and spend 1 card, you can draw a card from the board at the start of your turn in order to make room for the card when you spend it. Or, if you want to flush the board intentionally, you draw from the deck in order to force the flush.

I suggest watching Rahdo's play through and see what might be going wrong. It's the perfect demonstration of how the game runs when I made the variant. Rahdo Runs Through London
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Christian Nold
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Thanks very much for the response. We will try an have another go with your thoughts in mind. Cheers
 
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Kikki wrote:
What is the average length of the 2 players game using these variants?
Thank you!


About 90 minutes with new players, and i have managed to play a 45 min game with a person who had played it once!

As for the topic, the Ben and Zen-Luca variant works GREAT! thumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
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art vandelay
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
softhook wrote:
Hope somebody could clear up some confusion for me. We played 2 player with the "Ben & Zen-Luca" variant and noticed that we zoomed through the game. Sometimes we triggered the dummy player twice on a single players turn when playing cards or discarding with the hand limit.
This meant that the dummy player sometimes discarded 2 lots of cards for 2 boroughs.


It sounds to me like you're not playing correctly, and there's a rules error somewhere. Generally on most turns, you're not discarding cards at all, so many turns go by without any change in the board at all.


Been having more or less the same issue with the discarding. The initial land rush makes phase A and B go really really quick as compared to 3-4 players. Bear in mind that if your initial hand is meh, you are basically forced to buy land to cycle your hand. And no-one wants to lag far behind in the land rush.

Also, discarding the cards instead of putting them on display adds a lot of variance in the card draw. You can much more easily (and often) end up with few good economic cards, which kills your early game ... and your game.

Has anyone tryied putting cards on display instead of discarding them ?
 
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