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Subject: Can anybody compare this with Haggis or Tichu? rss

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Gustavo
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I've been curious about this game since I heard of it, but I never tried it because Tichu and Haggis always get on the way. Also, the rules about full houses seem a little excessive.

I would like to have a comparison by people whi played Zheng Fen and any of the two games above. Do you think Zheng Fen better than Haggis or Tichu, worse, or just another great choice? Is it worth bringing to the table if I have the two other games? Having to memorize a third set of rules for climbing games might be a deal breaker for some of my friends, so I want to know if it would be worth to switch from either Haggis or Tichu to Zheng Fen.

Thanks!
 
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Jonathan C
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gmsa84 wrote:
I've been curious about this game since I heard of it, but I never tried it because Tichu and Haggis always get on the way. Also, the rules about full houses seem a little excessive.

I would like to have a comparison by people whi played Zheng Fen and any of the two games above. Do you think Zheng Fen better than Haggis or Tichu, worse, or just another great choice? Is it worth bringing to the table if I have the two other games? Having to memorize a third set of rules for climbing games might be a deal breaker for some of my friends, so I want to know if it would be worth to switch from either Haggis or Tichu to Zheng Fen.

Thanks!


We play all three. Haggis when it is my wife and I alone; Tichu when our "normal" gaming group of four meets, and we've tried Zheng Fen a few times as well with four. Yes I agree the full house is much easier to play in Zheng Fen, on the other hand the runs have to be the same suit! (or am I confusing it with Haggis?)

With regards to card play / playable combinations, all three games are quite similar, with few notable exceptions including the special Zheng Fen full house. Runs (or sequences) are also a bit more difficult to put together in either Haggis or Zheng Fen because they must match suit. I particularly like Tichu's out-of-turn-order bombing mechanic, which can be devastatingly useful (or hurtful, depending on who does the bombing).

My personal preference is the higher stakes feel of partnership play (I.e. Tichu), which for me adds quite a bit to the tension and calls for some tough decisions about which cards to pass to whom. While I can appreciate and often enjoy Haggis and Zheng Fen, I feel that they are lacking that (very exciting) interactive element.

That's my two cents. I like them all, I most prefer Tichu.
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Justus
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If he doesn't jump into the thread, talk to

Lacombe
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cause he's a fan of this climbing game.

(I'm the local Tien Len fanatic...so here's my obligatory plug for that game)
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Lacombe
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gmsa84 wrote:
Also, the rules about full houses seem a little excessive.


On the contrary, they are the most interesting and useful part of the game and the one thing that Tichu [which is essentially a Zheng Fen variant] never should have left out, especially because they interact so well with Tichu's ruleset.

In Zheng Fen, the four different full house shapes serve to make middle-of-the-road hands [that don't have huge combos like bombs, straight flushes, or three-of-a- / four-of-a-kinds] less painful to play, providing you have at least one three-of-a-kind.

They make the distribution of hand quality bell-shaped instead of u-shaped.

The standard full house is of obvious benefit. It just allows 5 cards to be played at once.

The "two cards in suit sequence" variety is useful if your hand is full of mixed up pairs and singletons that don't go together either to make a sequence of pairs or a straight flush [Zheng Fen strangely disallows normal straights... more on that later]. It's an "out" that lets you get two loser cards out of your hand instead of just hoping to high heaven a bunch of singleton tricks are played. Your two consecutive cards can NEVER be played on a single singleton trick, so you'd need at LEAST two such leads in order to play them out... unless they share a suit and you can offload them in a full house.

The "3 + any other card" variety is similarly useful if you just have a bunch of crap in hand. It's a nice way to be able to get rid of the absolute lowest cards in your hand without having to have the lead [the only other way you can ever play them]. The ability to toss any other card in with the 3 lets you weed out similarly weak singletons from your hand. This shape, in general, makes the lead less important and gives hands without a lot of high-card strength the ability to actually compete in the game. You simply can't play off those 3s / low singles without the lead... unless they're in a full house.

The "two counting cards" variety is a nice way to compensate players who didn't manage to draw a bomb by giving them another way to get rid of these cards in a play that stands a chance of winning the trick [a high full house] instead of as a singleton or a pair, where there will almost certainly be a higher singleton or pair that comes in and swipes away the point cards. This gives players holding a lot of point cards but no high-cards the ability to play them off in such a way that they're not just handing out points to their opponents. It also can provide players holding a K-10-5 bomb a nice dilemma if they're faced with following up a full house and the only option is to break up their bomb. It's definitely not an easy decision, and tends to reduce the bomb count overall [which is generally higher in Zheng Fen than in Tichu] by a small amount.

However... what I play, personally, is a combination of both Tichu and Zheng Fen. I use all of Zheng Fen's combos and bombs, add in the normal straight, shift the straight flush up to a bomb as it is in Tichu, make all four-of-a-kinds bombs as they are in Tichu, and then use Tichu's system of passing, partnerships, powers, and bids. Of special note is that I also use Zheng Fen's beating rules for straights, which let players follow with a different size straight than what was led, providing it has a higher rank. This combination is where the game really comes alive for me, and if my hybrid game had a listing on BGG, I'd rate it a 10 [I rate ZF a 9.5 and Tichu a 1]. The inclusion of passing means that the full house shapes not only provide an out for bad deals, but an out for risky pass choices [i.e. cards held back looking to combo as a bomb] that don't pan out.

Those different full houses [and the K-10-5 bomb] are what give Zheng Fen its unique texture.

They give players a LOT more options for how to play out their hands, and they're not TOO hard to remember.
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Jonathan C
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I guess my preference would be to play Tichu, but with a variant rule that allows for "Zheng-Fen"-styled full-house card combinations (but with '2', not '3').

Edit: Oh, I guess that's similar to what Nate Straight is suggesting directly above I will suggest adopting the additional Zheng Fen card combinations and out-ranking runs the next time we play, I think it will really serve to improve the game. Disclaimer: I already rate Tichu a 10, based on the sheer number of hours we've spent playing it instead of the vast majority of other games in our collections.

Thanks
 
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Lacombe
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Oh... I forgot to mention. One of Zheng Fen's other redeeming qualities is that it doesn't have the stupid play-any-time rule for bombs that Tichu has. You play bombs in turn order, just like you should.

I'm going to draft a set of rules for my hybrid and post them to my blog. Does anyone know if "Zheng Pengyou" [best Google can do] is a decent translation for "Struggling with Friends" or similar?

Can someone offer better that keeps the intended double-meaning?

It should follow the "Zheng Fen" / "Zheng Shangyou" naming style.
 
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Lacombe
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NateStraight wrote:
Can someone offer better that keeps the intended double-meaning?

It should follow the "Zheng Fen" / "Zheng Shangyou" naming style.


How about "Zheng Bang Zhou"?
 
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Lacombe
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looleypalooley wrote:
I particularly like Tichu's out-of-turn-order bombing mechanic


Seriously? I've never been able to understand why anyone likes this mechanism. It doesn't suit a trick-taking game at all. It works great in Mah Jong where you're otherwise only interacting with the player on your right [in pick-ups] and left [in discards], but you're already interacting with everyone at the table... it feels like the "Skip" card in Phase 10. yuk
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Gustavo
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NateStraight wrote:
However... what I play, personally, is a combination of both Tichu and Zheng Fen. I use all of Zheng Fen's combos and bombs, add in the normal straight, shift the straight flush up to a bomb as it is in Tichu, make all four-of-a-kinds bombs as they are in Tichu, and then use Tichu's system of passing, partnerships, and bids. Of special note is that I also use Zheng Fen's beating rules for straights, which let players follow with a different size straight than what was led, providing it has a higher rank. This combination is where the game really comes alive for me, and if my hybrid game had a listing on BGG, I'd rate it a 10 [I rate ZF a 9.5 and Tichu a 1]. The inclusion of passing means that the full house shapes not only provide an out for bad deals, but an out for risky pass choices [i.e. cards held back looking to combo as a bomb] that don't pan out.


Very interesting post, Nate.

So in your hybrid game you don't use Tichu's special cards? Why?

Do you enjoy playing without partnerships (Zheng Fen or your hybrid)?
 
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Lacombe
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gmsa84 wrote:
So in your hybrid game you don't use Tichu's special cards? Why?


Whoops. Yes, I use the power cards. Will fix my post.

Quote:
Do you enjoy playing without partnerships (Zheng Fen or your hybrid)?


I don't play the game without partners any more, but I played Zheng Fen a number of times before switching over to Tichu / Zheng Fen [with partners] and enjoyed the game both ways.

I just tend to really like partnership card games more.
 
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Gustavo
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NateStraight wrote:
gmsa84 wrote:
So in your hybrid game you don't use Tichu's special cards? Why?


Whoops. Yes, I use the power cards. Will fix my post.

Quote:
Do you enjoy playing without partnerships (Zheng Fen or your hybrid)?


I don't play the game without partners any more, but I played Zheng Fen a number of times before switching over to Tichu / Zheng Fen [with partners] and enjoyed the game both ways.

I just tend to really like partnership card games more.


Since you had played some standard Zheng Fen before, how does it play with the different number of players (from 2-6)? Is there any formation that plays particularly bad, or particularly good?

Thanks!
 
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gmsa84 wrote:
Since you had played some standard Zheng Fen before, how does it play with the different number of players (from 2-6)? Is there any formation that plays particularly bad, or particularly good?


We played mostly 4 and 5 player. I wouldn't try 2 or 6, for sure. 3 might work, since a large hand size in a climbing game is actually still interesting [unlike, say, the 20-card hand you eventually reach in Wizard with 3], but I think there'd tend to be runaway leaders and losers within each hand and the scoring system would only exacerbate the problem. With 4 or 5, there aren't enough cards in a hand to make it totally killer, and there are enough varieties of leads / hands / combos that one player isn't simply going to be able to keep playing one thing that no one else can follow.
 
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Gustavo
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NateStraight wrote:
gmsa84 wrote:
Since you had played some standard Zheng Fen before, how does it play with the different number of players (from 2-6)? Is there any formation that plays particularly bad, or particularly good?


We played mostly 4 and 5 player. I wouldn't try 2 or 6, for sure. 3 might work, since a large hand size in a climbing game is actually still interesting [unlike, say, the 20-card hand you eventually reach in Wizard with 3], but I think there'd tend to be runaway leaders and losers within each hand and the scoring system would only exacerbate the problem. With 4 or 5, there aren't enough cards in a hand to make it totally killer, and there are enough varieties of leads / hands / combos that one player isn't simply going to be able to keep playing one thing that no one else can follow.


Nice, this information kind of matches my initial thoughts as well. I hope I can find some people to try it with 4 or 5!
 
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