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Subject: House Rules for 2 player rss

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Lawrence P
United States
Colorado
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Here are some rules that my playing partner and I devised to reduce to increase the role of strategy and reduce the role of luck in 2er Small World.

1. BIDDING FOR TURN ORDER

(I know this has been proposed a thousand times. Bear with me.)

A. Lay out all the combos that will be available at the start of the game. Then randomly choose a first bidder.
B. The first bidder can pass, or bid coins for first or second turn. (Examples: "I bid 3 coins to go first." or "I bid 1 coin to go second.") The other player can then pass, or bid at least 1 more coin to take the same turn order (first or second) that the first bidder bid for. Bidding continues until either player passes, at which point the high bidder pays the bank for the right to take the turn they bid for.
C. If the first bidder passes, the second bidder can also pass, or pay 1 coin (to the bank) to go first. The first bidder doesn't get any more bids.
D. If both players pass, then the first bidder goes first for free.

I like this rule because it corrects for turn bias -- whether it exists or not -- as well as for the opening array of combos. If you think SW is biased toward the first (or second) player, you can bid to go first (or second). If you think SW has no turn bias, you can pass. If you think you'll have the advantage if you can grab that juicy killer combo, you can bid for it. The player who more accurately assesses the opening situation will seize the advantage.

2. MAKE 10 COMBOS AVAILABLE AT A TIME INSTEAD OF 6

SW gets a bit lucky each time a new combo becomes available. If the new combo is a true killer combo, it might have been worth 6 coins to the player who previously picked a new combo... but that player didn't have that choice available.

I like this rule because it provides more information and choices. More Info + More Choices = More Complex Strategy.

Between them, Rules 1 and 2 correct the problem of races and powers that some have claimed are game-breakers in 2er SW, such as Diplomat or Kobolds. Nobody can claim they lost a game because their opponent took an overpowered combo -- if you wanted those Flying Sorcerers or Diplomat Skeletons, you should have bid an extra coin for first turn, or paid an extra coin when the killer combo became available.

3. YOU CAN SPEND COINS YOU DON'T HAVE

This rule applies to coins needed to pay the turn order bid, or for buying combos, or for Ransacking or Corrupt or whatever. It's possible to have a negative score at the beginning of the game.

For example: You bid 3 coins to go first, and then pay 4 coins for the #5 combo available. If you started with 5 coins, this means that you "borrowed" 2 coins to buy the combo, which are subtracted from any coins you score from conquering regions. (We actually start with 0 coins, which makes for a lot of first-round negative scores.)

Rule 3 is necessary to make Rules 1 and 2 possible. I like it because it makes more choices available in the early going. We've implemented this rule by tracking the game on score sheets instead of using the actual coins. This also provides a "box score" for reviewing the game later.

4. MAKE THE SCORE PUBLIC AT ALL TIMES

We started doing this because we were just tracking the score in our heads anyway, and realized that anybody can just write the score on a piece of paper (this is not prohibited by the rules, AFAIK). Anyway, players can make better strategic decisions when they know the score.

5. PLAY MORE THAN 10 TURNS

2er SW plays pretty fast with experienced players, so why not play more turns? In addition to making the game more interesting, this rule corrects a small problem with 2er SW: the lousy combos don't accumulate enough coins to make them appealing choices. We've been playing games of 13 turns, but I'd like to try games up to 20 turns.

I hope you find these ideas interesting, and I'd like to hear the opinions of other SW players. Apologies if I'm just rehashing ideas from other threads -- I did dig into the Variants forum, but you can't read everything.
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B C Z
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What is the difference, in a 2 player game, between each starting with 0, 5, 10 or 1000 coins?
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Christian K
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Well generally you wouldn't be able to buy a combo that is far away if you have less than that number of combos, but I guess it wouldn't come up often. And if you allow negative scores, it is taken out of the equation.

I really like the hidden scores (I only played with more players) since it makes the game less tense and less prone to analysis paralysis. But I agree if you really like analyzing the situation it is nice to know.

It sounds like your variant almost changed the game to an abstract strategy game like chess. Have you considered playing some of those if you really like fair-ness (ie skill being rewarded)?

You could also take out the dice.
 
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Lawrence P
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Colorado
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byronczimmer wrote:
What is the difference, in a 2 player game, between each starting with 0, 5, 10 or 1000 coins?
You are correct -- the starting point is arbitrary. The reason the original rules specify a starting point of 5 coins is so that a player can afford any combo to start the game (unless Cursed is available). But if you're going to allow players to spend coins they don't have (the real innovation of Rule 3) then you might as well start at zero.
 
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Lawrence P
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Colorado
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Muemmelmann wrote:
It sounds like your variant almost changed the game to an abstract strategy game like chess. Have you considered playing some of those if you really like fair-ness (ie skill being rewarded)?

You could also take out the dice.
Yes, I like to play SW as something closer to an abstract strategy game (I'm a casual chess player). But what I like about SW, as compared to chess, is its asymmetry. Except for its turn bias, chess is a perfectly symmetrical game -- each player starts with exactly the same pieces, in exactly the same formation. The fun of SW is figuring out how to take advantage of its asymmetry; how should I play these Underworld Wizards against my opponent's Hill Amazons?

As for the Reinforcement Die... I'm torn. It certainly adds randomness. But it adds an element of skill in assessing the value of Berserk or Pygmies (which are, on average, about the same as Commando or Elves, but more variable). And there's skill in calculating whether the best move is to use my 2 remaining tokens to conquer an empty region, or take a shot at conquering an enemy region, or not roll the die at all.
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Tables
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Why not start with 20 coins, for simplicity of not needing to write stuff down? 20 coins should comfortably cover any bid and combo taking. 15 is probably enough, in fact.
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Clement Tey
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I Eat Tables wrote:
Why not start with 20 coins, for simplicity of not needing to write stuff down? 20 coins should comfortably cover any bid and combo taking. 15 is probably enough, in fact.
Or, you know, just give everyone enough coins as and when they need.

Player 1: Oh noes, I need 100 coins.
Martin: What for?
Player 1: I want to buy that race combo!
Martin: It's only 5. shake
Player 1: Oh, okay.
*Martin hands out 5 coins to each player*
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Mechthild Madgeburg
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Thanks a bunch for posting this!

My husband and I picked this up recently, and most of our local friends aren't big on gaming, so we pretty much always play everything in our collection 2-player. I was really frustrated in our first few sessions w/Small World. Whoever either had the Dragon Master, the Elves, or Spirit always walked away with a win. I like that every decision is strategic, especially your race/combo choice. But when only one of these came up at a time, as was usually the case, those first few sessions boiled down to luck of the draw. My husband LOVES this game and didn't mind this at all. I, on the other hand, was becoming a very grumpy gamer wife whenever he talked me into playing.

We ran with your idea of starting with extra gold and laying out more race/power combos (I think we use 9 combos). Before, picking your combo was a question of either "which of these will make me cry fewer buckets of tears after my inevitable loss to the Dragon Master Elves?" or "can I live with myself after the carnage I cause with the Spirit Ghouls?" Now, more options means there's a higher chance of multiple abusive/fun combos for both of us. Now I'm just as happy to play as my husband is.

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Willard Blue
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I actually think the easiest way to fix the 2-player problem is just to buy tales and legends. Tales and Legends adds enough variation to the game in two player that it breaks the typical track and decline strategy. Some of the cards aren't as effective in a 2 player game but there are enough cards and combos that will alter the game enough to make a difference in how you play.

That said, I do think some of these suggestions are helpful, but 10 races removes the excitement factor of unknown upcoming races for me. 7-8 might be good. But 10 pretty much sets out all the races you will use in the game.
 
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Danny Mack
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Menifee
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For me there is no problem.
It just comes down to adjusting your expectations that the game should play just like a multiplayer game of Small World, and then adjusting your strategy accordingly.
 
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Jason
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I just take out Diplomacy for a two player game. To me it's just a fun killer in 2p.
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