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Subject: Need advice for 2 player card drafting rss

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Mrs Smith
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My fiance' and I play this game two-player quite a bit and as many have commented elsewhere, the player with the better combo-forming hand of cards seems to have an advantage over the other player.

I'm interested in introducing some sort of card-drafting at the start, but after having a look through the many drafting variants described in the forums here, I'm getting really confused as to what works well, and especially, what would be best suited for a two player game.

We just play vanilla Agricola, usually with just one of the decks (E, I or K). Neither of us are experienced enough to know what the 'overpowered' cards may be.

I would love any suggestions for a relatively simple way to even out the luck in the initial draw. Preferably not by avoiding strong combos (they're fun!) but by doing the initial card draw in such a way that we're each likely to end up with a good hand of cards to focus strategy around.

Thanks!
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Trevor Schadt
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Tegs wrote:
I would love any suggestions for a relatively simple way to even out the luck in the initial draw. Preferably not by avoiding strong combos (they're fun!) but by doing the initial card draw in such a way that we're each likely to end up with a good hand of cards to focus strategy around.

Thanks!
"10-drop-3" is a popular variant, although with only two players, you can probably do more than 10 (and drop however many cards are required to get you to a hand size of 7). (I don't have the game or cards in front of me at the moment, so I don't remember offhand how many cards are available for a 2p game. But you get the point.)

Drafts don't work quite as well with two players -- if you're clever, you'll know what all the cards are that your opponent picked -- but there's a bit of a way around it if you add a "dummy" drafter. Deal out three hands of 10 cards each: one to each of you and your opponent, and one to a dummy hand to one side of the players. Each turn, each of you and your opponent drafts one from your hand to keep, and sets aside one card at random (without looking) from the dummy's hand. Then pass the hands to the left or right (your choice). Repeat this until each hand has 3 left, which get discarded, along with all 10 cards at the dummy's station (the 7 set aside and the 3 leftovers).
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Christopher Foster
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Before deciding how to draft, you have to decide how important to you the hidden information aspect of Agricola is.

If the surprise factor of your opponent's cards is important, then 10-3 (or some other number) is fine for a friendly game of Agricola. One player could still be dealt a handful of great cards and the other could get a handful of garbage. If you want two hands that are balanced as much as possible, you'll need to do a pass draft.

The dummy hand Trevor explained is an interesting idea, but there's nothing wrong with a regular pass draft in 2p Agricola. The tradeoff is that you and your opponent will have seen most of each other's cards. I'm not generally a fan of hidden information in games, so this is my favorite way to play 2p Agricola. If both players are equally familiar with the cards, then this sort of pass draft is the best hope for ending up with two balanced hands. But drafting isn't a chore you do so you can play Agricola - it's very much it's own game. The rest of the game is where you see how well you did in the draft.
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Benjamin Kerenza
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If you don't mind about the hidden information but want it to be fair you could always play two games switching hands for the second one and take an average score!
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Matt Shields
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If I were you, I might stick with "10 drop 3" for a while, and then start doing a passing draft once you're more familiar with the game and the cards.

I think that passing drafts work just fine in 2er, but of course it is true that you'll know all but one of your opponent's cards if you have a good memory. If you don't like that part, then you might disagree with me. However, passing drafts (with any number of players) aren't so great when you're just starting out. If you haven't played much, it's very difficult to properly evaluate the strength of the cards.

This is especially true if you have some players who are much newer and less experienced that other players. I think if you force a new player to do a passing draft against experienced players you may actually make their situation worse than if everyone just had random cards.

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Ben Bateson
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Drafts are over-rated. 10-drop-3 is a nice way to rid yourself of those cards that you never play, but still over-rated.

You will do far better, ESPECIALLY in 2-player, learning how to defend yourself well against the strong cards. Does your opponent build a Day Laborer combo? More clay and stone for you from the accumulation spaces. Build ovens early. Have they got Midwife and Carpenter? Go crazy on Start Player and Reed. They have no opportunity to get back at you. Field Watchman? Get some fences up early and breed animals - you'll be guaranteed the Plough spaces in the final few rounds. Clay Supports? You'll be able to grow your family early and obliterate them with volume - particularly if you take a couple of stable-building actions when they want to build rooms...
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Matt Shields
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ousgg wrote:
Drafts are over-rated. 10-drop-3 is a nice way to rid yourself of those cards that you never play, but still over-rated.


I don't know if it's overrated or not, but I defiantly think that some form of drafting is better than not drafting in almost every circumstance. Drafting minimizes randomness in card distribution. How much it minimizes it depends what kind of draft you are doing, but even 10-drop-3 significantly reduces the odds of having a truly bad hand (at the expense of somewhat increasing the odds of having a brokenly good one.)

It's true that no matter what cards your opponent has, there are strategies you can employ to try to minimize their advantage. You alluded to some of those. But those often aren't good enough. Between two players of comparable skill level, if one has significantly better cards, that player should win.

Among relatively new players, I think randomly dealing cards is fine, because until you learn the game somewhat you really can't make good drafting decisions anyway. Better to just give them some cards and make them play. Plus, new players frequently try to play too many cards anyway, and drafting exacerbates this.

But among players who have already played a lot? Playing with a random deal can be amusing, and I do sometimes, but it's much less fair.
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Christopher Foster
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TwitchBot wrote:
[very well put response]

Matt, your response is eerily similar to what I was drafting in my head.
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Mrs Smith
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Thanks for all the responses everyone! I think we'll probably try the '10 drop 3' method, and if that doesn't feel like it gives us enough control, try the draft with the dummy third player.

Thanks again, I really appreciate all the advice.
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