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Subject: Why must we use the Postmaster? rss

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Bruce Linsey
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The rules state that if you start a turn with no cards in hand, you MUST use the Postmaster (i.e. draw two cards) that turn. I wonder why. There are times when one starts with an empty hand and might prefer to flush the cards, or use the cartwright. What am I missing here? Why the rule that one MUST use the postmaster in that situation?
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Derek Thompson
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I thought / am pretty sure that's only for the first turn of the game, not whenever you have an empty hand.
 
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Leo S.
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aldaryn wrote:
I thought / am pretty sure that's only for the first turn of the game, not whenever you have an empty hand.

You have to, whenever you have an empty hand.
English Rules wrote:
If a player has no cards in his hand at the beginning of he turn, he must choose the help of the Postmaster for that turn.
Having done that, he, of course, cannot use the help of any other official on that turn.
Note: in the first game turn, each player must choose to use the help of the Postmaster.
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Bruce Linsey wrote:
The rules state that if you start a turn with no cards in hand, you MUST use the Postmaster (i.e. draw two cards) that turn. I wonder why. There are times when one starts with an empty hand and might prefer to flush the cards, or use the cartwright. What am I missing here? Why the rule that one MUST use the postmaster in that situation?
I never understood this either. I just chalk it up to some weird quirk in rules is all.
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Thomas Chipman
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aldaryn wrote:
I thought / am pretty sure that's only for the first turn of the game, not whenever you have an empty hand.


the current english rules state: "If a player has no cards in his hand at the beginning of he[sic] turn, he must choose the help of the Postmaster for that turn."

however, i'm not sure i understand the question. you seem to be asking why you can't do something else and why you are forced to take the postmaster action. the easiest answer is because that's how the game is designed. there are plenty of games where i'd like to take a particular action that would be of greater benefit to me, but i'm constrained by the rules.

however, if you're asking for the rationale behind the rule, you'd have to ask the designers or a playtester. to me, it seems that the intent of the rule is to be to minimize the amount of time spent drawing cards. as to WHY the designers chose to add that particular rule, i think only those involved in the games development can give anything close to a definitive answer. perhaps game length was an issue during play testing.

if you don't like the rule, you basically have two choices. you can houserule it away or you can ensure that you always have a card in hand after completing a route.

edit: ninja'd by leo
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Dave Eisen
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I believe it was simply put in there as the usual best choice to prevent beginners from harming themselves without realizing it. I cannot see a need for this rule for thematic, game balance, or other structural reasons.
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Pieter
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Actually, there is a heavier consequence than suggested before.

You can have an empty hand not only after claiming a route, but also with a half-finished route on the table. This means that if you play all your cards into your route and don't claim it, and the other players make sure that when your next turn arrives there are no cards available that fit your route, that you have to discard your route. So you best make sure that you ALWAYS have at least one card in hand, and that that card is ALWAYS one that fits your route. Which is good advice in any case.
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Bruce Linsey
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Thanks, guys. I like Pieter's reasoning especially. While that doesn't seem to be a compelling reason for the rule, it is at least a good, strategic consideration that wouldn't exist without the rule.
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Flyboy Connor wrote:
Actually, there is a heavier consequence than suggested before.

You can have an empty hand not only after claiming a route, but also with a half-finished route on the table. This means that if you play all your cards into your route and don't claim it, and the other players make sure that when your next turn arrives there are no cards available that fit your route, that you have to discard your route. So you best make sure that you ALWAYS have at least one card in hand, and that that card is ALWAYS one that fits your route. Which is good advice in any case.
But if you're taking the correct card you won't have to worry about. And if all the cards are awful when you have 0 cards in hand, it seems your best bet would've been to flush and see if you have a card that matches.
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Jon Ben
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Flyboy Connor wrote:
This means that if you play all your cards into your route and don't claim it, and the other players make sure that when your next turn arrives there are no cards available that fit your route, that you have to discard your route.


They can make sure the current display is devoid of helpful cards... kind of. It depends how many players there are and how many helpful cards are showing. Even if the display has nothing for you, you can still draw two cards blindly from the deck so your opponents certainly cannot ensure that you have to discard your route.

The rule is pretty stupid and useless. If you're playing safely it won't really affect you since this is the action you would normally choose with an empty hand. I would be just as happy to ignore it. If someone want to live life on the wild side and play out their hand without scoring their route more power to 'em.
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Andy Latto
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I've never talked to the designer or playtesters, so I don't know their actual motives in making this rule. But here are the effects I've seen it have.

It slightly tilts the playing field away from rush-the-carriages strategies, which often take a turn or two extra because of this rule. Since I think that even with the rule, the game is slanted towards that sort of strategy, I think this is a good thing.

Leaving yourself with no cards, and therefore letting the player before you decide whether to take the cards he needs or the cards you need, can create awkward kingmaking situations. By making this play less attractive, it reduces the frequency of these situations.

It eliminates some high-variance catchup strategies. Leaving yourself with no cards in hand and a route on the table is always a risky thing to do, and is probably only a good move when you are behind and need to take a chance to catch up. This strategy becomes less attractive when you only have access to the six visible cards (which can have the cards you need removed by the player before you, who knows what you need) and two cards at the top of the deck, rather than 7 cards at the top of the deck. I think that the ability to make these big gambles may reduce the skill factor slightly, so a rule which discourages these gambles is a good thing.

It's not a big deal, but I think that this rule on balance slightly improves the game. It adds complexity, but if this rule didn't exist, there would probably be a "no using the administrator on your first turn" rule anyway, so it would be a wash in terms of complexity.

In the 2009 T&T tournament at the World Boardgaming Championship, Karl Henning left himself with a long route on the board and no cards in hand in both the Semifinals and the Finals. In both cases, he got the card he needed (aided in the Finals by a friendly use of the administrator by the player before him, who had an otherwise meaningless last turn---see above about kingmaking situations). His successful gamble in the semis got him to the finals, and the successful gamble in the finals put him in second, just a point or two from winning.

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Jon Ben
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Good points. Let me make some counter arguments. Not because I care that much but just to keep the discussion going because it's interesting

andylatto wrote:
Leaving yourself with no cards, and therefore letting the player before you decide whether to take the cards he needs or the cards you need, can create awkward kingmaking situations. By making this play less attractive, it reduces the frequency of these situations.


However with this rule when it does happen it makes the kingmaker more powerful. As you point out people can still opt for the high risk strategy this rule does not eliminate it. And although the kingmaker cannot guarantee either outcome, without access to the administrator the cardless player's fate is more certain. In other words if the kingmaker's action is more likely to be decisive.

Quote:
It eliminates some high-variance catchup strategies. Leaving yourself with no cards in hand and a route on the table is always a risky thing to do, and is probably only a good move when you are behind and need to take a chance to catch up. This strategy becomes less attractive when you only have access to the six visible cards (which can have the cards you need removed by the player before you, who knows what you need) and two cards at the top of the deck, rather than 7 cards at the top of the deck. I think that the ability to make these big gambles may reduce the skill factor slightly, so a rule which discourages these gambles is a good thing.


Or it makes those high variance strategies have even higher variance! So if having access to high variance limits skilful play, as you claim, then this rule is maybe making things worse.


Quote:
It's not a big deal, but I think that this rule on balance slightly improves the game. It adds complexity, but if this rule didn't exist, there would probably be a "no using the administrator on your first turn" rule anyway, so it would be a wash in terms of complexity.


I don't agree. I see it as needless complexity which kind of tries to inform good play. I don't tend to like rules that do this. I'm also unsure why you think a 'no administrator' rule would exist. I don't see the value in that.

Quote:
In the 2009 T&T tournament at the World Boardgaming Championship, Karl Henning left himself with a long route on the board and no cards in hand in both the Semifinals and the Finals. In both cases, he got the card he needed (aided in the Finals by a friendly use of the administrator by the player before him, who had an otherwise meaningless last turn---see above about kingmaking situations). His successful gamble in the semis got him to the finals, and the successful gamble in the finals put him in second, just a point or two from winning.


Very cool, thanks for sharing this I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't follow the T&T tournament circuit
 
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Michael Poplawski
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Having played many games, I was surprised that I've always played this incorrectly. I thought that maybe the English rules were translated incorrectly from the German, but no, there it is in the German rules as well.

I have to wonder if the rules were written this way intentionally. The notice that a player's first turn of the game requires the postmaster seems to be redundant if in the sentence above it says that a player must use the postmaster any time their hand has no cards in it.

I think that upon their second turns that the players should always have the choice of all four administrators available to them. To face a tableau of cards where they are forced to draw blindly, or a face-up card they don't need, is punitive and against the spirit of the game, in my opinion.

As mentioned here in this thread, it would be great to hear from the game's designer about this, as I can't think of a justification for it.
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Greg Cornell
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JonBen wrote:
Even if the display has nothing for you, you can still draw two cards blindly from the deck...


Is that allowed? I don't have the rules here in front of me, but I was always under the impression that you had to pick up one of the 6 route cards that are on display. After choosing your first card, you can see what is turned up and choose to pick it up.

Does it have the same rule for picking up cards as Ticket to Ride? There aren't even any wild cards to grab.
 
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Michael Poplawski wrote:
I have to wonder if the rules were written this way intentionally.


When the box says FFG I always have these internal philosophical dilemmas. With other publishers I usually assume the rules were written intentionally :D
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Dredry Toenail wrote:
JonBen wrote:
Even if the display has nothing for you, you can still draw two cards blindly from the deck...


Is that allowed? I don't have the rules here in front of me, but I was always under the impression that you had to pick up one of the 6 route cards that are on display. After choosing your first card, you can see what is turned up and choose to pick it up.

Does it have the same rule for picking up cards as Ticket to Ride? There aren't even any wild cards to grab.
The way I was taught (casual games, BSW, and one tournament game) was you're free to grab the top card of the deck. Once you look at it, you're stuck with it of course (just like TtR).
 
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Thomas Chipman
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Dredry Toenail wrote:
JonBen wrote:
Even if the display has nothing for you, you can still draw two cards blindly from the deck...


Is that allowed? I don't have the rules here in front of me, but I was always under the impression that you had to pick up one of the 6 route cards that are on display. After choosing your first card, you can see what is turned up and choose to pick it up.

Does it have the same rule for picking up cards as Ticket to Ride? There aren't even any wild cards to grab.


the english rules state: The player must add one of the 6 face-up city cards to his hand or add the top-most city card from the card supply to his hand"
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Dredry Toenail wrote:
JonBen wrote:
Even if the display has nothing for you, you can still draw two cards blindly from the deck...


Is that allowed? I don't have the rules here in front of me, but I was always under the impression that you had to pick up one of the 6 route cards that are on display. After choosing your first card, you can see what is turned up and choose to pick it up.

Does it have the same rule for picking up cards as Ticket to Ride? There aren't even any wild cards to grab.


No one is talking about Ticket to Ride here!? Wild cards... what? Look here is the rule.

Rule Book wrote:
The player must add one of the 6 face-up city cards to his hand or add the top-most city card from the card supply to his hand. After the player takes a face-up card, he replaces it with the top-most card from the supply. When the card supply is exhausted, shuffle the discards a place as the new card supply.
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Greg Cornell
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JonBen wrote:
No one is talking about Ticket to Ride here!? Wild cards... what?


Jeesh! Get a sense of humor, dude. Granted it wasn't really funny, but it was also IN JEST!


Rule Book wrote:
The player must add one of the 6 face-up city cards to his hand or add the top-most city card from the card supply to his hand. After the player takes a face-up card, he replaces it with the top-most card from the supply. When the card supply is exhausted, shuffle the discards a place as the new card supply.


Thank you for the rules clarification....Thomas!
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Dredry Toenail wrote:
JonBen wrote:
No one is talking about Ticket to Ride here!? Wild cards... what?


Jeesh! Get a sense of humor, dude. Granted it wasn't really funny, but it was also IN JEST!


Please don't shout, I meant no offence. Those were friendly exclamation marks. My comment was intended to be funny as well. "Wild cards... what?" I do in fact know what wild cards are.
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JonBen wrote:
Please don't shout, I meant no offence. Those were friendly exclamation marks. My comment was intended to be funny as well.


I am sorry I raised my voice. shake
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