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Subject: The utility of out-of-turn bombs rss

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Craig Duncan
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Recently Curt Carpenter made the following post in response to a review of Tichu:

curtc wrote:
The only inelegance I find [in Tichu] is the out-of-turn calling of bombs, and the subjective measurement of time of when you can/can't bomb. As much as I used to love out-of-turn bombs, I now wish they could only be played in turn, to eliminate that one rough edge. Everything else fits together beautifully.


(By the way, the thread in question is: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/780411/first-impressions...)

This comment intrigued me, and let me to wonder in what kinds of situations you would miss being able to play out-of-turn bombs if they were not allowed.

Clearly one situation in which they'd be missed is a situation in which the following two conditions hold: (i) you are a bomb away from going out, or a bomb-and-a-lead away from going out; and (ii) turn-wise you come after player X and you fear that player X will go out on his next play (or his next play + lead). By playing a bomb out-of-turn, you beat X to the punch and go out before him.

In what other situations would you miss being about to bomb out-of-turn? My Tichu experience is still pretty limited, so it's hard for me to say.

Some possible other cases:

A. Even in the early to mid-game (i.e. even when no one is at risk of going out in the next play or two), perhaps the following is a case in which out-of-turn bombs are a nice option. Namely, I'm thinking of a case in which a large combo has been played and you suspect that a Tichu-caller can play to it, and you'd like to beat him to it with a bomb, thereby forcing him to take the lead in some other fashion in order to play his large combo.

B. A case in which you'd like to play before your partner to enable him to save for later a winning card or combo that you suspect he has and that you suspect he will play unless you bomb out-of-turn.

I have to say, though, that my Tichu radar is not well-tuned enough to detect cases like A and B. So I don't find myself pondering these cases in actual play. And I'm not really sure B is even a good idea.

Any thoughts on these cases, or other cases in which you see an advantage to an out-of-turn bomb?
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Eugene van der Pijll
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It's also useful when the player before you plays a high combo, and you'd like to see if your partner can beat that combo before bombing. You can still bomb after all players have passed.

Also, when the mahjong is played and a card is wished for, you may want to bomb out of turn:
* If the player before you plays the 1, and wishes for a card in the middle of a straight in your hand, you may want to bomb his 1, and then play the straight, instead of breaking up the straight.
* If your partner plays the 1 and wishes for a card in your low 4-bomb, you probably want to bomb right away, before your opponent can get rid of a low single.
* Similarly, if the player after you wishes for a card in your low 4-bomb, it's best to bomb after your partner has played a low single.
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Curt Carpenter
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To be clear, for sure there are many situations where being allowed to bomb out of turn (assuming we could even agree on a concrete definition of that) would be useful. My claim is based on the belief that the problem it causes (timing) is not worth the benefit. Not being allowed to bomb out of turn also presents new and interesting decisions when it is your turn, since you can't wait to see what happens. If timing were not an issue (i.e. there was guaranteed to always a long enough pause between plays for those who have a bomb to consider playing it and to do so before the active player plays), I would agree that bombing out of turn is better.

pijll wrote:
Also, when the mahjong is played and a card is wished for, you may want to bomb out of turn:
* If the player before you plays the 1, and wishes for a card in the middle of a straight in your hand, you may want to bomb his 1, and then play the straight, instead of breaking up the straight.

This part is not affected by timing between players. I would want to still allow this.
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Eugene van der Pijll
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curtc wrote:
This part is not affected by timing between players. I would want to still allow this.

That would need an additional rule. ("When a card is wished, it's your turn, and you're able to play that card, you have to play that card or play a bomb.")

I don't think that additional rule would be worth the trouble; the situation isn't that common.

FWIW, in my opinion the added options of bombing out of turn are worth the timing problems.
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Mark McEvoy
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pijll wrote:
It's also useful when the player before you plays a high combo, and you'd like to see if your partner can beat that combo before bombing. You can still bomb after all players have passed.


The is by far the most common scenario in which I have seen (and done) out of turn bombing.

If it weren't so cumbersome, I'd be tempted to remove 'anytime' bombing, but have every 'trick' that is won with a nonboss combination only be turned after two passes around the table - one go-around of people acknowledging they have no 'normal' following play (at which point people could make a normal play or a bomb, on their turn), and then after that has passed around, another sequential check to see if anyone would like to play a bomb (where the only option is to play a bomb or pass - the option to play nonbomb has already passed).


It would be trading one clumsiness for another, though.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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pijll wrote:
curtc wrote:
This part is not affected by timing between players. I would want to still allow this.

That would need an additional rule. ("When a card is wished, it's your turn, and you're able to play that card, you have to play that card or play a bomb.")

Yup. I might word it slightly differently, but I don't think this is going to make the official rules anytime soon, so the exact wording probably doesn't matter.

pijll wrote:
I don't think that additional rule would be worth the trouble; the situation isn't that common.

What trouble is it? You stated the rule in 4 words. It doesn't come up that often, but it makes a huge difference when it does come up. I would very much miss the ability to bomb before fulfilling my wish by wrecking my straight. Even if it doesn't come up often, when it does it would be very annoying. Similar to the annoyance of the timing issue of bombs. It's not super common, but it's super annoying when it happens.
 
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Andrew Foerster
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If you're counting points, you may want to bomb a valuable trick before somebody drops a Phoenix on it.

Obviously, as you say, its primary use is in managing when people go out (and blocking people from going out).

The cases with the Mahjong are valid.

But, these do seem pretty minor so I get Curt's point ... it's very reminiscent of calling "Pong" in (actual) Mahjong, in that you can meld a set of three or four like tiles out of turn. It's essential in that game because sets are difficult to make, but it's also pretty clunky because experienced players move fast and it's not uncommon to call Pong after the next tile has been drawn. It's especially troublesome with a new player who isn't watching for a tile to Pong (or isn't even sure if he WANTS to Pong the tile).
 
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