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Harvest, hunter, beaver, blue; Hound-dog, badger, kangaroo;
Rich man, poor man, beggar too, High and low, with derring-do,
All a-hunting we will go


All of the people from all of the cities and villages across the kingdom have gathered on the day of the Great Hunt, even if only to play spectator or place speculations.

You show up with your grandmother's hunting bow in tow, and are immediately overwhelmed. To say you are outmatched would be an understatement! What were you thinking?

There stands Sir Orin, who slew the bull-headed Taro (if you believe the legends). And over there... can it really be? Maire, the great huntress? Looks like you've got your work cut out for you.

Just before the hunt begins, you have an idea. You pull a few strings, cut a few deals, and before you know it you've found three new friends with the same hunting specialties as yours!

In return for half the winnings in each of the three hunts you've chosen to participate in, out of the six traditional categories, they'll help you bring in a bigger, trophy-worthy bounty!

Little did you know, they'd all had the same idea and made similar arrangements among themselves! Turns out the four of you have all six hunting categories covered!

Oh well... sound the horns, and let the hunt begin!

Introduction

"All a-hunting", for short, is a trick-taking game played for points with the curious characteristic that every player is partners with every other player.

[Credit for the idea of "personal trump" and point-cards that differ across players by suit goes to Calypso, as explained and catalogued by David Parlett.]

Overview

The game requires:

- 1 extended Decktet
- Exactly 4 players
- 60 suit chips*, 10 in each suit
[*as in Conundrum, not strictly needed]

Setup of the game:

Separate out the 4 Court cards [with the "two pawns" icon] from the Decktet, and deal one randomly to each player.

Remove the 4 Pawn cards [with the single pawn icon] and The Excuse from the deck; they are not needed in the game.

Objective

Players seek to capture as many cards as they can in the three suits pictured on their Court card, or to have their partner in each suit capture those cards for them.

You have three "partners", one for each suit on your Court. Any cards captured in any of your three suits by the other player who also holds that suit will also score for you.

Gameplay

The player holding "The Rite" prepares for the hunt by shuffling the deck, offering it to the player on their right-hand to cut, and then dealing the entire deck out evenly to the players.

The player holding "The Origin" begins by leading any card from their hand [it need not be The Origin itself]. Every other player, in clockwise order, follows by playing one card from their hand.

If you hold any cards matching any suit(s) on the card that was led, you must follow suit and play one [you are not especially obliged to "follow both suits" if you hold a card that matches two suits that were led].

If you do not hold any cards matching the card led, you may play any card you like. In the absence of any trumps, the highest card played of any suit led wins the trick [of equal ranks, first played wins].

Personal Trumps

Any cards you hold that match two of the three suits on your Court card are "personal trumps" for you. If any personal trump card is played to any trick, it will win the trick unless a higher personal trump from another player is played to the same trick [if equal rank personal trumps are played, first played wins].

In addition, for the 2 players whose Court cards contain the Moons suit, the Crown of Moons ["The Huntress"] is an additional personal trump [which will, obviously, always win the trick it is played to].

If you lead a personal trump card, nothing changes. All other players must still follow the suit(s) on the card, and the highest personal trump [since one has, by default, been played] will win the trick.

[Thematically, "personal trumps" represent specialized hunting experience. You wow your fellow hunters with your ability to combine two hunting disciplines into one amazing feat of tracking and capturing the quarry. Of course, in some hands, you just won't be able to pull this off... maybe your memory is failing you?]

The King's Bounty

Crowns represent the King choosing to condescend and enter the hunt. If a Crown card ever wins a trick, it and the highest-ranked card matching that Crown's suit are immediately discarded before scoring takes place.

[Thematically, this represents the King butting in and taking the most impressive catch home as his own prize. NOTE: The Crown of Moons, if played as a personal trump, does NOT incur the King's bounty penalty.]

Scoring

The winner of each trick, after assessing any penalty for the King's bounty, takes one suit chip each of the appropriate color(s) for any cards taken in the trick that match any of the suits on their Court card, then leads to the next trick.

At the end of the hand, each player scores one point for any suit chips taken matching any of the suits on their Court cards, regardless of whether they hold them personally or their "partner" in the appropriate suit holds them.

Winning

After each hand, rotate the Court cards clockwise by one position and begin again.

The winner is the player with the most points after four hands have been played.
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Lacombe
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n.b. I have not played this at all.
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This looks nifty.

I do not have an immediate intuition as to how many personal trumps there are for each player. Are the numbers similar for each Court?

Quote:
4 Court cards [with the "two pawns" icon]


This is an odd description. Maybe '"two guys"', but calling it the '"two pawns" icon' just invites confusion.

Less pedantically - The rules would work just the same using Pawns to determine partners. My guess is that it would make for more personal trump, but I don't have an intuitions as to whether that would be better or worse.

An unrelated idea: A more Knizia-esque scoring system would be to let you score for only some of your colours, like the lowest scoring or two lowest scoring ones. Is there a deep reason to have score be the sum of all three?

Quote:
n.b. I have not played this at all.


Sadly, the requirement of exactly four players and a general drought of chances to play Decktet games make it so that I probably won't get a chance to try this anytime soon.
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pmagnus wrote:
This looks nifty.

I do not have an immediate intuition as to how many personal trumps there are for each player. Are the numbers similar for each Court?


Four from ranks 2-9 for the sun Court cards, three in the same range for the moon Court cards. With the addition of the Huntress as a personal trump for the loonies, it's four for everybody [a big reason for that rule]. The ranks of the personal trumps are around 3-5-7 [give or take] for each Court.

Quote:
Less pedantically - The rules would work just the same using Pawns to determine partners. My guess is that it would make for more personal trump, but I don't have an intuitions as to whether that would be better or worse.


Right. I chose the Courts for that specific reason, also because I felt it would be easier to score "double-point" cards [since the Pawns include sympathetic suit pairings]. Still, it would be worth testing the game with the Pawns. The Courts are a cute thematic element for partners, though, with the dual icon.

Quote:
An unrelated idea: A more Knizia-esque scoring system would be to let you score for only some of your colours, like the lowest scoring or two lowest scoring ones. Is there a deep reason to have score be the sum of all three?


No deep reason other than I see no reason to do otherwise. In particular, it seems it would be really difficult to control the distribution of a colour you happen to draw few of, whereas a dearth in one suit would necessarily leave you with comparatively more in the other suits [hopefully your other suits].

Quote:
Quote:
n.b. I have not played this at all.


Sadly, the requirement of exactly four players and a general drought of chances to play Decktet games make it so that I probably won't get a chance to try this anytime soon.


Same here.
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I did, at least, deal out a few hands and see what the distribution of personal trumps looks like. It's possible, also, to model it relatively easily with a hypergeometric distribution, and I did that quickly in OpenOffice Spreadsheet, but don't remember what the probability break-down was. It was relatively good odds of holding at least one of your personal trumps, as I recall.

One thing I liked about the idea in reading Calypso [also haven't played it yet ] is that your failing to draw trumps doesn't necessarily mean that the other players have comparatively more trumps [in fact, they're probably a bit less likely to hold trumps]. Your trumps are deadweight in other players' hands, so the fact that you didn't get a good hand doesn't mean by default that another player did.
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I like trick-taking games. Next time I have 4 people only I'll try to work this in. I've really been intrigued by Conundrum, but when I explained the scoring system to my wife she went all glassy eyed so that one has been a pass so far.
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NateStraight wrote:
I did, at least, deal out a few hands and see what the distribution of personal trumps looks like. It's possible, also, to model it relatively easily with a hypergeometric distribution, and I did that quickly in OpenOffice Spreadsheet, but don't remember what the probability break-down was. It was relatively good odds of holding at least one of your personal trumps, as I recall.


0 trumps: 30%
1 trump: 45%
2 trumps: 21%
3 trumps: 4%
4 trumps: 0.2%

So, a 70% chance of holding at least one of your personal trumps (I think this simplistic model is accurate enough, at least... I need to give it some more thought).
 
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NateStraight wrote:

So, a 70% chance of holding at least one of your personal trumps (I think this simplistic model is accurate enough, at least... I need to give it some more thought).


The one thing that might be a problem, in playing the game, is that it will be impossible to count personal trumps. It will be hard even to grok what personal trumps might be out there.

(Contrast Nonesuch and Double Knot, for which trumps can readily be summed up on a reference card. A reference card for A' Hunting might help some, but there is no assurance that those cards are held by the person who could use them as trump.)
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pmagnus wrote:
NateStraight wrote:

So, a 70% chance of holding at least one of your personal trumps (I think this simplistic model is accurate enough, at least... I need to give it some more thought).


The one thing that might be a problem, in playing the game, is that it will be impossible to count personal trumps. It will be hard even to grok what personal trumps might be out there.


As a really simple rubric [that's not entirely accurate because of the Huntress' doubling up on both Moon Courts], you can expect each hand to hold 1 personal trump on average.

Simple probabilistic "proof": There are 4 cards out of 36 that are personal trumps for any given player, or a 1/9 ratio. You are dealt 9 cards, so on average 1 will be a trump.

Obviously that doesn't get you very far, but at least it is a starting place.

The odds of being dealt 2 [or more] of your personal trumps are around 25%, so you can expect 1 hand out of 4 to hold 2 of their trump cards [I think I'm reasoning this correctly].

In terms of counting cards and figuring out which suit leads are safer, I think the bigger issue is probably going to be with tracking high cards in your point suits more than anything.

Obviously not much can be said about the dynamics without playing it.
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NateStraight wrote:
pmagnus wrote:
NateStraight wrote:

So, a 70% chance of holding at least one of your personal trumps (I think this simplistic model is accurate enough, at least... I need to give it some more thought).


The one thing that might be a problem, in playing the game, is that it will be impossible to count personal trumps. It will be hard even to grok what personal trumps might be out there.


As a really simple rubric [that's not entirely accurate because of the Huntress' doubling up on both Moon Courts], you can expect each hand to hold 1 personal trump on average.

Simple probabilistic "proof": There are 4 cards out of 36 that are personal trumps for any given player, or a 1/9 ratio. You are dealt 9 cards, so on average 1 will be a trump.

Obviously that doesn't get you very far, but at least it is a starting place.

The odds of being dealt 2 [or more] of your personal trumps are around 25%, so you can expect 1 hand out of 4 to hold 2 of their trump cards [I think I'm reasoning this correctly].

In terms of counting cards and figuring out which suit leads are safer, I think the bigger issue is probably going to be with tracking high cards in your point suits more than anything.

Obviously not much can be said about the dynamics without playing it. :p


As long as their is a simplistic idea of the percent chance that should be fine. Think of great games like Haggis which remove a portion of cards from the game. It is very difficult to judge the actual amount of bombs other people might have based upon your hand, but you can still have a pretty good idea to play off of.
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NateStraight wrote:

Four from ranks 2-9 for the sun Court cards, three in the same range for the moon Court cards. With the addition of the Huntress as a personal trump for the loonies, it's four for everybody [a big reason for that rule].


Hmm... I count five number-ranked cards that match the Island: 5 the Discovery, 2 the Desert, 6 the Penitent, 7 the Cave, and 9 the Darkness
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pmagnus wrote:
NateStraight wrote:

Four from ranks 2-9 for the sun Court cards, three in the same range for the moon Court cards. With the addition of the Huntress as a personal trump for the loonies, it's four for everybody [a big reason for that rule].


Hmm... I count five number-ranked cards that match the Island: 5 the Discovery, 2 the Desert, 6 the Penitent, 7 the Cave, and 9 the Darkness


Ahhh crud. Oh well. I think I missed the Cave in reviewing my summary card, as it's in a different column from the like-suited Darkness.

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NateStraight wrote:

Ahhh crud. Oh well. I think I missed the Cave in reviewing my summary card, as it's in a different column from the like-suited Darkness.


Since four hands make a game, allowing each player a chance with each Court, maybe the Courts don't have to have equal trumps.

Once it's unequitable, you could drop the Crown of Moons special rule - which, although thematic, is a bit clunky. Courts would then make for 3, 3, 4, and 5 possible trumps.

By my count, using Pawns instead would make for 3, 4, 5, and 6 possible trumps.

EDIT to add: The tally is much easier to make using this reference...

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pmagnus wrote:
NateStraight wrote:

Ahhh crud. Oh well. I think I missed the Cave in reviewing my summary card, as it's in a different column from the like-suited Darkness.


Since four hands make a game, allowing each player a chance with each Court, maybe the Courts don't have to have equal trumps.


You're probably right. My bigger concern in this regard is that some of the Courts might be uninteresting to play if there is an extreme unbalance, such that one particular "role" always dominates a hand and one always struggles to do anything.

Anyway, we managed to run a test game this afternoon with my dad.

I'm happy to report, at least, that the game functions and seems to provide the types of decisions it should. Like in many Decktet suit-following games, there were a few plays each hand where a player simply had no option for card-play.

That seems to just happen more with the Decktet than a normal deck.

The scores were relatively close: 68 - 67 - 59 - 75 after the 4 deals. I kept track of Courts as they moved around; The Rite seemed to fare worst, taking last place points by a fairly substantial margin in all but the final hand where it outpaced The Harvest.

It would be nice if anyone else playtesting this could track scores similarly hand-to-hand for each of the four Courts. The Harvest [aside from the last hand] and Consul seemed to fare best. Of course, the margins were pretty slim; hand scores ranged from ~12 to 22.

The Crowns seemed to be a useful option and I think the rule about them triggering their effect only if they win was the right choice. I'm not as sure that the "first played of equal ranks wins" rule is the right way for the tie-breaker to work. It cut off some options.

We played without The Huntress as trump. I still like the rule, though.
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