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Subject: Up-strategizing Grass. rss

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Eric Raabe
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Or, a really awkward way of stating increasing the level of strategy in Grass.

This is part variant and part rules discussion so I'm posting it here. Two of the initial problems with the game that we noticed were that nobody much cared for the protected cards. You could protect $25,000 for example, or just play an additional $25,000, so why bother protecting? That and no one liked having to figure out 20% for the Banker card at the end of the game.

What was figured was that the game needed more card stealing going on, and the way to do that was to change the Banker card into a super Steal Your Neighbors Pot card. So the rule used was that the Banker card could be used to either steal a peddle card or steal everyones lowest unprotected card (like the side effect of a Stonehigh card).

In addition the game comes with four mostly blank cards (for replacement purposes only? Bwa-ha-ha-ha!). Take two of these and turn them into additional Banker cards (for more stealin!), and take the other two and turn them into $75,000 protected cards. With all the extra stealing going on and perhaps fewer choices to steal from what with more cash being protected those protected cards start being worth a bit more.

Now we come to an unclear point in the rules, can you choose to un-protect money? One way of playing this is Yes, you can unprotect money whenever you want. So if you have to pay a fine you can use protected money and if someone skims everyones lowest card and all you have unprotected is Dr. Feelgood then you can unprotect that $5,000 and pass that off instead. The second way to play it is No, protected money is permanantly hands off. This makes things a bit more strategic, but also makes protected cards more likely to just be dumped again. After all, why protect money if that might prevent you from paying a fine later or allow someone to skim your $50,000 card because you used a $25,000 protected earlier. There's also a compromise option, to allow you to unprotect money only on your turn and only to pay a fine, so that you can still protect $5,000 cards and still have them availible for pay fine cards.

I'm not sure which of those options I like the most myself yet, and their use and usefullness can also impact or be impacted by game length. So for example, you may want to play with the second option but then shuffle all the Market Closed cards into the bottom half of the deck, insuring a longer hand where every player will have time to both get spare cash out AND protect excess wealth.

One final word, playing a very short hand (Market Open, any peddle card, Market Closed) is a very usefull strategy, but if it becomes the only strategy and you're looking at a six hour game you can either use the rule where the Market Closed cards are shuffled into the latter part of the deck or even make a negative amount at which point a player is dropped out of the game (like at -$200,000 that player is kicked out of the game), at least those are my suggestions.
 
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Gary Heidenreich
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Wow. Whenever I have played, EVERYONE protected cards because everyone stole cards (as well as playing Stonehigh(?) and Euphoria to take em.

Unfortunately, my feeling for the game has dropped. I will play with three, maybe four. Five players just dragged forever, it seemed.

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Eric Raabe
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To follow up my own article: After continuing to play the game for sometime now the standard I use is that you can only unprotect money on your turn and only to use a pay a fine card.

Also if 3 round hands (market open, peddle, market close) become a problem I'm just using the variant that the market can't be closed until everyone's managed to get a market open in front of them at least once (even if later destroyed).
 
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Gary Bradley
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I am also suprised with the original post. In our group, Protected cards are like gold dust. They are always the 'holy grail' of the trading furore, other than when one needs a specic Heat Off of course. Let me put it this way, if player X has Heat Off Felony up for trade, and 2 people desperately want it, it will go to a player offering a Protected 25k before it will go to the player offering a straight 25k peddle, no question. Having 25k in front of you with Proection on is better than having two 25ks with no Protection.

[N.B. You also mentioned that you don't bother calculating the Banker's 20% skim, which is another reason why you may undervalue the Protected cards.

In summary, if I have a card for trade that several players want, I would rank the cards they could offer as follows...

1) Euphoria (would never happen of course)
2) Stonehigh (ditto)
3) Market Open (if I still need one)
4) Heat Off (if I need it), including Pay Fine if I can use it
5) Paranoia (if I am currently holding a WORSE Paranoia)
6) Dr Feelgood
7) Protected 50k
8) 50k peddle
9) Protected 25k
10) 25k peddle
11) 5k peddle
 
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Paul Brooks
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dead jawa wrote:
In addition the game comes with four mostly blank cards (for replacement purposes only?

I think we roached ours in about 1989....
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Trent Boardgamer
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GaryB wrote:
I am also suprised with the original post. In our group, Protected cards are like gold dust. They are always the 'holy grail' of the trading furore, other than when one needs a specic Heat Off of course. Let me put it this way, if player X has Heat Off Felony up for trade, and 2 people desperately want it, it will go to a player offering a Protected 25k before it will go to the player offering a straight 25k peddle, no question. Having 25k in front of you with Proection on is better than having two 25ks with no Protection.

[N.B. You also mentioned that you don't bother calculating the Banker's 20% skim, which is another reason why you may undervalue the Protected cards.

In summary, if I have a card for trade that several players want, I would rank the cards they could offer as follows...

1) Euphoria (would never happen of course)
2) Stonehigh (ditto)
3) Market Open (if I still need one)
4) Heat Off (if I need it), including Pay Fine if I can use it
5) Paranoia (if I am currently holding a WORSE Paranoia)
6) Dr Feelgood
7) Protected 50k
8) 50k peddle
9) Protected 25k
10) 25k peddle
11) 5k peddle


Agreed. The original post only makes sense if playing with 2 players only. If you have three or more players you could potentially lose both your $25K cards before your next turn, where as if you played a protect on the first $25K it can't be touched.

P.S. To the OP, it's never a good idea to post strategy after smoking some grass.
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