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Havoc: The Hundred Years War» Forums » General

Subject: A problem with the ranking rss

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Derek Carver
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Havoc has followed the standard Poker ranking - modified due to the possibility of playing a 6th card. But Havoc is not Poker. Unlike Poker, in Havoc card management is an extremely important element. To win a war with, say, two cards is far better tactics than having to expend five to do so. For this reason, as the rules stand a 'straight' and a 'flush' are a poor investment since they have no 'strength' until the full five cards have been played out. As an easy example, a single 10 will beat a 9 high straight (or a 9 high flush) until all five cards have been played.

Other combinations can often be stopped part way and still rank.

So, I feel that flushes and straights should be pushed higher in the table, otherwise they are best avoided as being too costly in cards for little power.

I hope I've made myself clear.

Derek
 
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Adam Smiles
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I'm curious how far up the chart you want to push them.

From the 5-card straight and above the only rank that does not require 5 or 6 cards is 4 of a kind. Clearly you don't think a 5-card straight should beat 4 of a kind?

I agree that playing 5 cards when 2 or 3 will do the trick is a waste of resources. Changing the rank of hands won't fix this. And I don't think it is something that needs fixing. Yes it is ineffecient, but why should there be rules simply to keep people making poor plays? You may be going for a striaght flush, and when you fail to get those cards, your flush or straight will still beat all of the 2 and 3 card hands.
 
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Shawn Low
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To a certain extent, I do agree with Derek's comments. Yes, the game is more about hand management than poker (which is why the drafting element is extremely crucial).

When I first played Havoc, I did feel that the ranking was a little odd but I see the logic behind it:

It does follow traditional poker hands. If you look at the ranks, there's a progression from single cards to pairs to full house and flush. The progression seems to run 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 cards.

The only oddity to me is the 4 of a kind which handily beats even a 6 card flush? I found that a little overpowered as it's easier to draft 4 of one card (over 6 suits) than 6 straight flush given the restricted recruiting aspect (players draft 2 cards and discard 1 each round).

However, the way the battles are conducted seem to even things out. There is a bluffing element very remniscent of games like Taj Mahal.

The bluff element is a way avoid using up 5 card straights or a flush when a lower rank will win the game.

The player who cried Havoc starts proceedings with 2 cards or more. The battle goes round the table and players can steadily build hands. Because of this, players need not dump their entire battle hand on the table but slowly push up their hand in hope of winning the battle with lesser resources.

In this case, perhaps Derek is right. If I have a 5/6 card flush/straight and want to slowly bluff my way up instead of throwing the hand down at the start, I can't because a flush and a straight only kicks in after singles, pairs and triplets.

Perhaps there should be rankings for 3 and 4 card straights and flushes as well?

This way, people can bluff their way up to a 5/6 card flush/straight without having to use all their 5/6 cards. There is already a ranking for triplets, so I don't see why there shouldn't be a ranking for 3/4 card straights and flushes.

Am I making sense?


 
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Shannon Appelcline
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Not following the standard Poker ranking would make the game much less accessible. I'd rate that more important than keeping players from making bad plays.
 
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Shawn Low
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To follow up, I posted a revised ranking order that includes 3 and 4 card combos here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/802326#802326

This includes 3 and 4 card straights, flushes and straight flushes.

I will try it and see how it goes.
 
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Shawn Low
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shannona wrote:
Not following the standard Poker ranking would make the game much less accessible. I'd rate that more important than keeping players from making bad plays.


Any changes made will still follow the Poker rankings. I don't think that Derek is suggesting otherwise.

At the end of the day, it's hard to completely follow the Poker rankings because there are 6 suits.

I mean, as it stands, there are several rankings that seem out of place in the light of 'poker' rankings:

Triplets (3 of a kind)
Big House (4 of a kind and 1 pair)
Trios (3x + 3x)

At the end of the day, there is a strong Poker element to the game and I do think that giving ranking to 3 and 4 card combos will help the bluffing element in battle.

Yes, it might add complexity, but the feedback is there: the current 17 rankings are confusing at first, but most players get used to it after playing a game or two with the proper player aid.
 
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Adam Smiles
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shawn_low wrote:
The only oddity to me is the 4 of a kind which handily beats even a 6 card flush? I found that a little overpowered as it's easier to draft 4 of one card (over 6 suits) than 6 straight flush given the restricted HAND LIMIT.


I'm not sure what you mean. There is no hand limit.

You also need to look at how many people are playing the game. With 6 players you use all 18 cards of each suit. With fewer players, the numbers of cards in each suit is reduced, making it harder to complete flushes and straight flushes.
 
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Shawn Low
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asmiles wrote:


I'm not sure what you mean. There is no hand limit.

You also need to look at how many people are playing the game. With 6 players you use all 18 cards of each suit. With fewer players, the numbers of cards in each suit is reduced, making it harder to complete flushes and straight flushes.


Whoops. Technically, there is NO hand limit. My bad.

But the fact that you're drafting 2 cards per turn and discarding 1 makes the drafting aspect very tight. And this reinforces Derek's point.

My hand limit is tight: players slowly build up their hands 1 card per round of recruiting (after the discard). A 5 or 6 card battle will wipe their hand out.

Yes, with more players, there are more cards.

However, less players = less cards but ALSO less competition for the cards. I don't think it's harder to complete straights and flushes with less players.



 
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Adam Smiles
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It's very likely that the groups we play with are using very different play styles. But I've not seen this card crunch that you are talking about. Hand management is tight, but playing the occassional straight or flush is not going to ruin your game.

Let's look at a 4 player game. You are dealt 7 cards to start the game. After battles 1,2, and 3, all players are going to be dealt an extra 2 cards. That brings our total to 13 cards. Assume that each player (on average) will call Havoc twice, netting them 2 more cards. Thats 15. Let's also assume that on average you are going to partipate in 6 of the 9 battles, so you get 3 more cards (one each for each battle you don't participate in). We're at 18 cards per player and we haven't done any recruiting yet. Each recruiting phase before battle can get a player anywhere from 0 to 3 cards, depending on when HAVOC is called. Let's say that over the 8 recruiting phases a player might get 12 cards (1.5 per round). Then everyone gets another 2 cards immediately before battle 9.

So in our example that's 32 cards collected over the course of the game. Over 6 battles participated in, that's on average more than 5 cards per battle.

Now if you're constantly playing straights and flushes and losing to higher 4,5, and 6 card combos, then you are not managing your hand very well and you are not paying attention to the cards the other players are picking up. Every battle you participate in and only play 2 or 3 cards, should leave you more cards and more flexibility for completing bigger hands later in the game.

In my opinion the game works very well as is, and adding in 3 and 4 card straights and flushes will only complicate the game without improving it. And, it might actual hurt the game play.
 
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Shawn Low
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asmiles wrote:

So in our example that's 32 cards collected over the course of the game. Over 6 battles participated in, that's on average more than 5 cards per battle.

Now if you're constantly playing straights and flushes and losing to higher 4,5, and 6 card combos, then you are not managing your hand very well and you are not paying attention to the cards the other players are picking up. Every battle you participate in and only play 2 or 3 cards, should leave you more cards and more flexibility for completing bigger hands later in the game.

In my opinion the game works very well as is, and adding in 3 and 4 card straights and flushes will only complicate the game without improving it. And, it might actual hurt the game play.


Different groups might play differently. That's true.

It is correct that the 20-30+ card collected over the course of the game is an average of 5 cards per battle.

However, there are several bigger issues that seem to be making the game system tight and hard to manage:

1) The sheer amount of cards.

Chris Farrell made a good point with his comments on the game. There are so many cards that one would have to spend too much time card counting. In fact, try remembering what other players take during a 5 or 6 player game. I'm sure we don't all have a photographic memory. I try to notice what people draft. But between that, the number of cards in the deck and managing my own hand, trying to card count is tough.

2) The tight drafting element.

Players draft 2 cards and discard one. At any one time, due to the size of the hand and the need to discard, one is pretty much locked into building 2 hands at the most. Allowing 3 and 4 card combos would mean that players have more versatility with their hand of cards. They can make and break sets easily instead of locking half ther hand in a 5/6 card combo.

I guess I'm seeking to enhance the bluffing element of the game come battle time; let players slowly build their hands on the table and wait for everyone else to drop out. I'm also seeking a way to overcome the limited drafting and hand constrution restraints that the game mechanics have imposed.

But I shouldn't really comment further until I have played a few more games using both the normal system as well as the variant I suggested.
 
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Mark Crocker
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I don't see why anybody would want to fiddle with hand rankings and insert "four flushes" and four card straights. In real poker pulling in a pair, or even an ace high is clearly more difficult than to pull in a "four flush". That's why it's a worthless hand. The addition of extra suits, would even make them more worthless. Anyone who has played "Havoc" already knows that 5 card straights and flushes, are mediocre hands at best. As stated before, managing your hand is the key. (Mighty high talk, for a guy who has only played this twice).

 
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Malachi Brown
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In my experience it is much easier to get a straight flush in a 3 player game of Havoc than in a 5 or 6 player game.

In most of the three player games I have played, every player has managed to collect at least one five or six card straight flush. I have personally managed to have three in one game.

In contrast, my experience with five and six players has shown a straight flush very rarely. Sets of like numbers have been more common.

I believe this is mainly due to the fact that there is a smaller range of numbers available with fewer players and so it is easier to collect the cards necessary for a straight flush. Once I even collected all of the cards of a particular suit.

Granted, every group is different, but that has been my experence over around 30 games, almost all of which have been with the same basic group of players.

I don't have a problem with the ranking as written. Even if you juggling things around a little bit or added some new sets, I don't think it would make that big of a difference. A pair will always be a much stronger lead than two sequential cards that are not of the same suit, or two cards of the same suit that are not close in sequence. You just have to plan your drafting and card play accordingly.

If I recall correctly, the only time I ever bothered to play a non-flush straight was a game where we played with the battles in random order, the "last" battle came up as the first battle, I was the first peacekeeper, and I had a six card flush in my starting hand. I figured a good chance at grabbing 11 points was worth the loss of almost all of my cards. I managed to win that battle and, eventually, the game.
 
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James Faulkner
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Just to throw my 2 cents in with Derek. I have only played twice, but I definately got the feeling that focusing on getting multiples of a particular number was far safer than trying to get flushes and straights as you could decide during a battle how much to invest and would often score without playing a full 5 or 6 cards. Also, even if you failed in collecting say 4, 5 or 6 of a particular number then a pair or a triple was still useful. With this in mind I played ignoring trying to collect straights and flushes in both instances won the game handily. So though it is early days for me to tweak the game I am leaning to including 4 card straights and flushes in the ranking and/or pushing the 5/6 card straights and flushes up slightly.

BTW has anyone calculated the number of hands possible at each rank. Does the 6 colours and more values change things from a standard deck of cards.
 
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Mark Crocker
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There is a math formula for figuring poker odds. I found it on "Ask Jeeves". The trouble is that I'm no "math-e-magician", so I look at it from a layman/mechanical point of view.
If I have a deck of 52 regular playing cards, and I am just dealing a hand to myself. On the first card I have a 13 out of 52 (25%) chance of drawing any particular suit. My next card then has a 12 out of 51 (23.5%) chance of matching the suit I started with. But let's say I drew it. Then my third card has an 11 out of 50 (22%) chance of matching the first two cards (which I draw). That gives my 4th card a 10 out of 49 chance (or less than 20%) chance of matching my 1st 3 cards. And the 5th suited card would have a less than 19% chance of matching. And this is just dealing to myself. The chance of filling even a "four-flush" dropped by 5 percentage points from when I started.

If I did the same thing with a "Havoc" deck I have an 18 out of 120 chance of drawing any particular suit, which is only a 15% chance to start. But if I did exactly as I did with the regular deck, and was able to keep drawing the same suit, then by the time I was looking for a 4-flush, I still have a 15 out of 117 chance (13%) of getting that card...way less than half of the percentage drop I saw with the regular deck.

Taking my layman's thinking a bit farther, I find that under the same circumstances, I've got barely a 4% chance of making a pair and only a 2.5% chance of drawing 3 of a kind with a "Havoc" deck. Again just dealing to myself. Factor in all of the other items, (discards, number of players), and I'm sure that the math changes, but I think I'm on the right track, and that track states that 4 card straights and 4-flushes, are just as worthless in "Havoc", as they are in regular poker. This ain't Yahtzee.
 
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Adam Smiles
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There's one flaw in your math. It doesn't matter what the first card is.

What's the probability that you get a card? 100%.
What's the probability the the second card is the same suit as the first card? In a 6 player game of havoc it is 17/119, which is slightly better than 14%. Repeat for later cards.

But it doesn't really matter what the proabilitilies are, because of the way you build your hand. You're not getting a single random card. You are getting 2 cards, which may or may not be random, and then discarding a card.

Then there are the dogs. I've seen people enter battles they don't expect to get points in, simply to fetch a card that is needed for their straight flush.

Then there's also the matter of group think. If all the other players are collecting sets, then sets for you are easier. If the other players are collecting straights and flushes then they are easier for you too.

Example: Game 1: Ann is collecting 7's and 10's, Bob is collecting 4's, 5's and 9's. Charlie is collecting 6's and 12's. Good luck on you getting any straight or straight flush. Game 2: Ann is collecting Red and Green cards. Bob is collecting Black cards, plus 2's and 3's. Charlie is collecting Blue cards and 12's. You now have 2 suits to collect your straight flush with little competition.
 
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Mark Crocker
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Well, my math may be wrong...but my train of thought is right on. 4 and 3 card straights and flushes are garbage and deserve no ranking consideration. Bluff with 'em!...but they have no business outranking a pair.
 
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Derek Carver
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Just a word of thanks for all of the input folks have put in following this thread I started. I have read all posting with great interest and have learned from them.

But there's just one comment I would make. It is easy to get sidetracked into talking about Poker and not about Havoc. Poker is a 'pure' game, if you get me. Havoc isn't - hence the problem.
 
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