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The Hobbit: The Defeat of Smaug» Forums » Rules

Subject: A couple of Gandalf's Gifts questions rss

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James Newton
United Kingdom
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So I dug this out to play with the family over New Year, and a couple of questions came up that weren't clear from the rules.

1. What happens when you lands on a G space with 4 GG cards already?

The rules state that you cannot have more than 4 GG cards - so do you not get a card or can you exchange (like on the Safe Haven)? I ruled that it is like when you have no jewels, you look at the top card but cannot buy it. But as the Stocking Up Adventure card (which gives you a free GG card) explicitly says you may swap it if you have 4 already, I am not 100% sure about this.

2. When you swap/steal a card from another player, who's choice is it?

On the Getting Your Share Adventure card it says that a player may take "any one" of your GG cards (as a penalty for taking one of their jewels), but it isn't specified whether they get to choose which card, or whether it is a random choice. We went random, but mostly out of habit from the Robber in Settlers because context felt similar. However the Business at the Lake card says "pick one" which, together with the trading thematic context, implies non-random choice - the player being picked on wanted a random choice rather than targeted and argued (successfully) that because the previous case had been done randomly, this should be done the same. Should they both be random, both targeted, or one of each? Or should the trading case allow for some discussion/agreement (if I give you X etc)?
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Teppo Saarinen
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Hi James,

I haven't got the game here anymore, but I think in the first case we played so that you pick one, then discard down to 4 again.

In the second case I'd say both are targeted. This is because the cards are public information anyway, so making it random would mean a big change to the normal situation - and such a change would/should be quite strongly specified in the card. I can't remember Business at the Lake though - do players trade cards or what? In that case it should definitely be targeted.

Cheers!

PS. We had another type problem with Getting Your Share (see my other post). The rules are a bit vague.
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James Newton
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Hi Teppo,

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm still undecided about how to apply the 4 card limit - whether the presence of the explicit instruction on an adventure card (to draw and then discard any of the 5) implies that this should be the norm or that it is an exception to the norm.

I'm interested that you play with the cards as open information. We don't - the cards are drawn "face down" and only seen by the drawer; if the card is rejected it is returned to the bottom of the deck unseen by the other players. I'm trying to think how much difference it makes - I guess there is an effect on deciding whether to exchange a card at a Safe Haven depending on whether you know which cards cannot be on top of the deck (in other players hands, or recently rejected) or not. It also adds to the "tension" for adventures if the other players don't know which gifts you have - and if, as you near the end, they don't know if you have a Smaug symbol card or not.

In a similar vein, we did ask ourselves whether the reward/penalty for success/failure in an adventure should be known before attempting to succeed. We decided that this should definitely not be known as some of them send you back some spaces if you fail, but this could be considered an advantage (especially if that means going through a safe haven an extra time).

I guess its not the kind of game with sufficient depth to really worry one way or the other, but it would be nice to have a specific answer.
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Teppo Saarinen
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churchmouse wrote:
Hi Teppo,

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm still undecided about how to apply the 4 card limit - whether the presence of the explicit instruction on an adventure card (to draw and then discard any of the 5) implies that this should be the norm or that it is an exception to the norm.


This isn't explicitly stated in the rules, so it's up to each group to decide how to do it. We had a rationale for our solution, but I can't remember it now. (My bullshit level may be a bit high anyway, since I don't have the actual game here for reference)

Quote:
I'm interested that you play with the cards as open information. We don't - the cards are drawn "face down" and only seen by the drawer; if the card is rejected it is returned to the bottom of the deck unseen by the other players. I'm trying to think how much difference it makes - I guess there is an effect on deciding whether to exchange a card at a Safe Haven depending on whether you know which cards cannot be on top of the deck (in other players hands, or recently rejected) or not. It also adds to the "tension" for adventures if the other players don't know which gifts you have - and if, as you near the end, they don't know if you have a Smaug symbol card or not.


I'm pretty sure it was clearly stated in the finnish rules that the cards should be kept open. At the very least you would need to show a Smaug symbol card to the other players when you arrive at the lair, so they know that you indeed have one.

Quote:
In a similar vein, we did ask ourselves whether the reward/penalty for success/failure in an adventure should be known before attempting to succeed. We decided that this should definitely not be known as some of them send you back some spaces if you fail, but this could be considered an advantage (especially if that means going through a safe haven an extra time).


Again, I'm pretty sure that the finnish rules said "the Guide reads all text in the card". It would also make sense because you'd get to decide whether to use one of your valuable Gandalf cards or risk using the spinner, depending on how serious the penalty is.

Quote:
I guess its not the kind of game with sufficient depth to really worry one way or the other, but it would be nice to have a specific answer.


I know - even if I think a game's not even that good, those vague rules keep bugging me
 
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James Newton
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Typical, you've now given me even more questions.

Teppolainen wrote:
I'm pretty sure it was clearly stated in the finnish rules that the cards should be kept open. At the very least you would need to show a Smaug symbol card to the other players when you arrive at the lair, so they know that you indeed have one.

The English rules just say place the card in front of you - we automatically assumed face down (and simply revealed-and-returned a Smaug symbol card when needed). I have now looked at the base of the box (for the first time) and seen the cards placed face up - but that could be to better show the game since it also shows multiple adventure cards alongside them.
(Maybe these are supposed to be kept once played - the rules don't actually say to return the card after the adventure devil .)

Teppolainen wrote:
Again, I'm pretty sure that the finnish rules said "the Guide reads all text in the card". It would also make sense because you'd get to decide whether to use one of your valuable Gandalf cards or risk using the spinner, depending on how serious the penalty is.

Another interesting point. The English rules don't mention a "Guide" - simply "the player to your left draws the top card ... and reads it to you". I'm fairly certain that reading all the text cannot be taken 100% literally, as otherwise the adventures which require you to answer a riddle would become too easy, but it does suggest that the other information is known, allowing decisions to be made with more information as to whether the penalty is bad, good (e.g. move back) or indifferent (lose something that you do not have). This certainly changes the game - my initial thought was that it simply makes it easier, but maybe it adds a bit more strategy (if you are not going to lose anything, or might even benefit from the penalty, you still have to decide whether the guaranteed adventure points for success are worth it - whereas if the penalty is unknown you nearly always go for Instant Success if you can).

I am drifting towards a few conclusions:
- that the Finnish rules are more thorough. Maybe they are printed on a larger sheet, the English one is a single (two-sided) sheet the same size as the box lid, and there is not much room for all the additional clarifications.
- that the game is probably intended to be played mostly by or with "children" (although the stated age range on the box is 10 to adult), since the credits include three 6th grade classes. This would tend me towards a more open style of play as being the intention.
- this game is now being replaced by the new Hobbit game (by Knizia, presumably more in the style of Lord of the Rings) and so this game is effectively unsupported - e.g. the Fantasy Flight Games web site now takes you to the new Hobbit game and there are no real references to this one. This means that all remaining questions are bound to remain unanswered and everyone's interpretation is "right". whistle
 
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