Love San Juan, but played the 2 player game to death? Drafting adds a lot of strategy to this already great game.
Each player begins with an Indigo Plant and 54 points. The other 108 cards are shuffled and stacked. A starting player is chosen. Six cards are dealt in a row from the deck:
[deck] [card] [card] [card] [card] [card] [card]
The player who is NOT going first then arranges these cards in any order, while keeping them moving out from the deck.
These cards each have a cost. The card next to the deck costs 5. The card next to that costs 4. This continues, with the final card costing zero.
The first player buys a card, gaining the card and losing points equal to its cost. All cards more expensive than the purchased card are shifted away from the deck, lowering their cost, and a new card is dealt with cost 5. The second player then purchases a card, and the players take turns purchasing cards until each has 55 cards, including their initial indigo plant.
NOTE: A player may not purchase a card they do not have the points for! If a player has no points, they MUST purchase the free card. Players may NEVER pass.
As an example:
My friend and I flip a coin. I win and will buy first. The top six cards are a Aquaduct, Library, Archive, Guild Hall, Quarry, and Smithy. My friend sorts them as follows:
[deck] [Guild Hall] [Library] [Smithy] [Aquaduct] [Quarry] [Archive]
I purchase the Aquaduct for 2. I now have 52 points, an Aquaduct, and an Indigo Plant. Another card is drawn: it's a Prefecture. It is now my friend's turn to purchase a card with the following position:
[deck] [Prefecture] [Guild Hall] [Library] [Smithy] [Aquaduct] [Quarry] [Archive]
Eventually, each player has their 55 cards. Both players shuffle their 55 cards and play a normal game of San Juan, except each player only draws from their own 55 card deck. This is somewhat reminiscent of a collectable card game: part of the strategy is making sure you have a good deck.
-If you pick the card second farthest from the deck every time, you will spend exactly all your points.
-Keep track of your points vs. cards. If you have 10 cards (counting your indigo plant) and 30 points you need 45 more cards, which is 1.5 cards/point, so start taking the free card whenever reasonable!
-A monopoly on any good card is powerful in a number of ways. For example, if you have both Triumphal Archs your opponent may be forced to overpay for Statues. You can also assume that you almost always want to play a hero.
-Your strategy will change during the draft. If both Guild Halls fall into your lap, agressively pursue Smithies and production buildings.
-Other forms of drafting can be used. They don't work as well. Solomon drafting in particular produces uninteresting decks.
I've done this quite a few times now and had loads of fun. It really adds another dimension to the game that can add a lot of play time.
Why is there no Word Games Forum or Subdomain?
There should be a Word Games Subdomain, or at least a Word Games Forum!
Excellent suggestion! I think this would also make a good variant for more than 2 players. For 3 or 4, a switchback draft might work well, keeping the point system.
The point system could also be used for handicapping - like for an experienced player vs. a newbie. Give the newbie 58 points and the experienced player gets only 50, or something like that.
What if it worked almost exactly like a CCG? That is, you take your own complete deck (110 cards) take one Indigo Plant and your choice of 109/number of players of the remaining cards for your personal deck, and play with that. Each player has the full deck to choose from.
Which cards would you use?
Hmm. Rereading your layout for the draft, and you might want to edit your example, whereing you purchase an Aquaduct, and yet leave it behind for your opponent to buy after the Prefecture comes out.... *grin*