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Subject: Colour Bazaar: the treacherous winds of fashion rss

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P.D. Magnus
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The Isles of Purple and Red, renown for their fine fabric and vivid dyes, are far across the sea. When the island trading houses send cargo ships to the Sapphire Ports, they can only guess what the demand will be for different styles once the cargo finally arrives. So the houses send agents ahead in faster boats, on missions to promote the products the the house anticipates sending. At the same time, they try to guess what will be in demand.

Each of the six Decktet suits represents a different colour or style of fabric. Players use cards to influence the value of each style and collect chips representing investment in particular styles. The goal is to have invested more in the styles that are ultimately the most popular.

** Rules at the Decktet Wiki **

The usual playtesters have enjoyed this one a lot, and one of them even thinks it might be his favorite Decktet game of all. Nevertheless, it has been through several versions, and the rules need a bit more playtesting before I'm ready to call it done.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Nate Straight

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For 2 or 3 means that I can actually playtest this one easily!

I really love trump / trick-taking / auction games, but those just don't work with 2, and it's usually just my wife and I. [As an aside, I learned Nonesuch and Terrapin over the weekend. Loved them both.]

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P.D. Magnus
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NateStraight wrote:
For 2 or 3 means that I can actually playtest this one easily!


I look forward to hearing what you think of it.

Quote:
As an aside, I learned Nonesuch and Terrapin over the weekend. Loved them both.


Thanks.
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Nate Straight

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pmagnus wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
For 2 or 3 means that I can actually playtest this one easily!


I look forward to hearing what you think of it.


[Our 2p gaming has been dominated by monster two-night games of late, so pardon the lateness of the reply.]

Very good. We only got a couple of games in, but the second was tense and full of very difficult decisions.

Two quick suggestions:

1) Put back in [the rules make it sound like it was there but taken out] a restriction on chip selection.

2) Either remove entirely or extend to Aces the "No Crowns on the last round" rule; it is unnecessary.

The first because the chip selection is pretty arbitrary to begin with and is not the most interesting decision in the game by a long shot. Card management and "leading" your opponent are the most interesting aspects of the game. Tie the chip selection back into the card play, and the decisions [we found] become instantly more difficult, almost exponentially so. And, it's thematic [see other thread]!

The second because, especially in the 2p game, playing an Ace on the last round to crush an opponent's suit and playing a Crown on the last round to boost your own suit are functionally identical [I think perhaps even mathematically identical, in terms of just raw probabilities and expected values given totally random play]. You can see if the Crown is still out and there's a spot for it; kill the spot!

A lesser designer might have done a stupid "remove x cards at random from the deck before play" rule to "reduce analysis paralysis" or "provide a level of uncertainty". The raw calculability and card-counting provides for some very very tasty deduction near the end of the game, something that is [I think] central to "traditional" card play, and gives this very unique game a familiar atmosphere.

The scoring system is cumbersome to compute, but I found it completely intuitive once you latched on to it. Splay the cards in "landscape" orientation instead of "portrait", and it's easier to parse the board. Pay attention to marginal gains rather than absolute ones [to make calculation more meaningful and, fortuitously, easier]. It's really not so bad; it all makes sense. It's only math!

But... the best thing about the game is that it makes full and interesting [and novel] use of the deck's dual-suited construction to provide shifting player incentives in a 2p zero-sum game [yes, I'm trying to throw some catch-words out to draw in a particular breed of gamer!]. Not only that, it makes great use of some of the more obscure features, like suit-pairing "voids" and the like.

Although any individual play will either represent a net gain or a net loss to you, each play changes the incentives for the next play in a way that makes it difficult for your opponent to tell whether you just made a bone-headed move or are setting something up that the stopping of is more important than a large net gain that you can achieve now. Maybe a better calculator could kill this aspect. I don't know yet.

Very good, and that was all just from 2 plays.

I could definitely see this becoming a favorite.

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Nate Straight

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The one wholly new idea that I think might provide a spark to the game [and maybe allay concerns of those who don't enjoy the calculable end-game maneuvering] would be to have a variable end condition of some sort.

Maybe it could be rather than all chips gone, five out of six colors gone? Especially paired with a reinstituted requirement to take a chip that matched your card, this could give some potentially interesting end-game tactics.

Or maybe it could be when / if a certain "market" reaches a certain number of cards [or, alternatively, when more than one reaches said threshhold].

Or it could be to end the game when the fourth, fifth, whatever Ace and/or Crown is played.

I think an option like this is worth pursuing. Probably wouldn't be my preference, but who knows.

I actually like the end-game calculability, but I also like Roads & Boats, Taluva, Attika, etc... all with variable end-games that players threaten each other with.
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Jack Neal
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I'll have to try this out, PD.... Right up my alley!
 
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Jack Neal
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A variant I think I want to try is something from a train game that I have the hots for:

- Have 3 chips per suit per player.
- Each player randomly selects 3 chips at the beginning.
- Another action involves a player trading 2 chips for 1 chip.
- Game ends when 5 suits are empty or all suits have 1 chip or less.

I'm half tempted to kill the crowns or make the crowns "freeze" the deck until another crown is played. Another end game would be if all decks are frozen.

But I have to play the game as is first.
 
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P.D. Magnus
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Raiderjakk wrote:

I'm half tempted to kill the crowns or make the crowns "freeze" the deck until another crown is played. Another end game would be if all decks are frozen.


That was the rule in the original version, but it turned out to be a bad idea in playtesting. Once a couple of stacks were frozen, there were two many turns on which a player did not have any choice about where to play.
 
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P.D. Magnus
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Nate:

Sorry for not replying yet to your session report. Thanks for trying out the game.

I have not tried the two-player game as much as I have the three-player game. The dynamic is certainly different. In a three-player game, many or even all of the suits will be split 2-2-1; when you are one of the players with 2 chips of a suit, you can only increase their value by helping out the other player who has 2.

Quote:
Two quick suggestions:

1) Put back in [the rules make it sound like it was there but taken out] a restriction on chip selection.

2) Either remove entirely or extend to Aces the "No Crowns on the last round" rule; it is unnecessary.


1) Especially in the three-player game, there is a good deal of strategy and bluffing in which chips to take. (For example: There are three chips of a colour left, you don't have one yet, but you would like to have two or maybe even all three. You take one. If your opponents figure out what you are up to then they can take the other two.) Bluffing would be less meaningful if your choice was restricted, because other players would just think that you had made your choice based on the restriction.

Obviously, there is not as much bluffing in the two-player game. Perhaps there would be more if the game could end early. That way, it might be possible for a player not to get the chips they want.

2) Extending the rule to Aces makes sense.
 
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Nate Straight

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Is there any real reason the Aces or Crowns have to be in the game to begin with?

Aside from timing, their effect [strategy wise] seems to be to make plays that tempt the other player(s) to counteract [decreasing "your" crown or increasing "their" ace] but which [because of cards already played or suit-voids and the like] will require them to increase your score in another color in the process of increasing their ace or decreasing your crown.
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Jack Neal
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Another idea for Crowns (or extra cards) would be to neutralize an 8 or 9 at the end of the game - if it's on top of it, the 8 or 9 isn't used. Or perhaps flip the way the deck is resolved from bottom to top instead of top to bottom.

Maybe Aces just add one point to the final value of that suit on top of the last card played by it as well?

Edit: Actually, I think a better idea would be the ability for Aces would be to discard the top card from the stack. So if some joker puts a 9 with Waves on it and you had the Ace, bye-bye 9. If the next Wave card was a 6 or something, that would be what counts.

I'm still somewhat torn on Crowns. Maybe the discard pile is right-side up and a played crown pulls the top card from there and puts it back on a stack. Or not. Don't know. I'll have to tinker.

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P.D. Magnus
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NateStraight wrote:
Is there any real reason the Aces or Crowns have to be in the game to begin with?


Without them, there aren't enough cards.

The original rule was that Crowns stopped a pile (you could never play on a Crown, but it didn't count as a number). And you could remove the top card of a pile by playing a card which added together with the top one to make eleven; both cards were then discarded. So you could remove a Crown by discarding an Ace, remove an Ace by discarding a Crown, remove a 4 by discarding a 7, ... and so on.

Here's some strategic rumination on the current rule:

Unless you play a Crown first thing in a stack, it has to go on top of a number card for that suit. So it's not 10 extra points. If it goes on a 4, it's just 6 extra. And since it has only one suit, any other card played on the pile will push the value back down.

Similarly for Aces.

If a suit is split 3-2 (in a two player game) or 2-2-1 (in a three player game) the difference isn't necessarily a big deal. A Crown or Ace is really only a huge thing if there is a big disparity in control. From games I've played, investing big in a suit is a risky strategy that usually doesn't pay off - but when it does pay off, it can be huge.
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P.D. Magnus
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Here is a possible rule: Crowns have no effect on scoring. You may play on top of a Crown in the usual way. If a Crown is played so that there is a Crown in each of the four stacks, then the game ends after this turn.

If the first player ends the game in this way, then the other players may take one more chip but may not play further cards. If the second player does (in a three-player game), then the third player may take one chip. The effect is that players will have the same number of chips at the end of the game.

So, one use for Crowns is obviously to end the game. Since a Crown only has one suit, it can also be used to create a bottleneck. If you play the Crown of Wyrms on a stack, for example, then any further play on that stack will change the value of Wyrms - if your opponent plays the 2 of a suit you like or the 9 of a suit you don't like, playing the Crown will increase the chance that a different number will end up scoring. Since the Crowns don't lock up the stack, however, they still leave players with choices.

Fair warning: I haven't tried this yet, and probably won't get a chance to try it for a while. If you try it, let me know how it turned out for you.
 
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Jack Neal
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Maybe flip the Crown sideways so you can see it in there? It's hard to remember the cards unless they are splayed from the get-go. I take from the rules on the wiki that a stack of cards is stacked so nothing is visible.

I'll give it a whirl this week.
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P.D. Magnus
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Raiderjakk wrote:
I take from the rules on the wiki that a stack of cards is stacked so nothing is visible.


Oh, you have been making the game harder than intended! whistle
I can see why you suggested a value tracking board in another thread.

We play cards at a small offset, so that the entire contents of the stack are visible.

 
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Jack Neal
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pmagnus wrote:
Raiderjakk wrote:
I take from the rules on the wiki that a stack of cards is stacked so nothing is visible.


Oh, you have been making the game harder than intended! whistle
I can see why you suggested a value tracking board in another thread.

We play cards at a small offset, so that the entire contents of the stack are visible.



Yeah, I tend to do that. :-)

The rules wiki might want to specify the stacks are splayed since I take a stack of cards to mean right up on top of another. I didn't know they were set like a Rummy discard pile.

We'll try it that way too! :-)
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P.D. Magnus
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Having playtested it more, I've settled on this rule: For scoring, Crowns are treated as having the value of the highest-ranked matching card in the stack.

This means that a Crown can be worth no more than 9. It will only be worth that much if the 9 of that suit is buried somewhere further down in the stack; if the 9 is buried there, it's not scoring somewhere else.

Crowns are otherwise played like a normal card, and may be played on the last turn of the game.
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Nate Straight

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pmagnus wrote:
Having playtested it more, I've settled on this rule: For scoring, Crowns are treated as having the value of the highest-ranked matching card in the stack.

This means that a Crown can be worth no more than 9. It will only be worth that much if the 9 of that suit is buried somewhere further down in the stack; if the 9 is buried there, it's not scoring somewhere else.

Crowns are otherwise played like a normal card, and may be played on the last turn of the game.


That's clever and cool. It's certainly more interesting than the original, too.

Still, it only matters if Crowns are the last card played in a stack [as anything played after them changes that suit's value], which seems weird. They still strike me just as a card with which to "ask" an opponent to change value of a given suit, unless it's very late in the game.

I suppose with them being dynamically assigned a value like this, you could respond collusively [only in a 3-player game, of course] to a value-tanking play by one player by playing a Crown for a suit you and the third player share, since they won't want to change it by playing after it.

There's a small chance I might get to play a few 3p Decktet games tomorrow; this'd be one.

I still really need to try this one with 3, as I think it will increase in interest dramatically.

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P.D. Magnus
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NateStraight wrote:

Still, it only matters if Crowns are the last card played in a stack [as anything played after them changes that suit's value], which seems weird.


This is what made the game work pretty well even before I had settled on the best function for Crowns. Having Crowns count as ten made them too powerful, and having Crowns do something different (like rearrange stacks or end the game early) changed the game too much.
 
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Nate Straight

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pmagnus wrote:
NateStraight wrote:

Still, it only matters if Crowns are the last card played in a stack [as anything played after them changes that suit's value], which seems weird.


This is what made the game work pretty well even before I had settled on the best function for Crowns. Having Crowns count as ten made them too powerful, and having Crowns do something different (like rearrange stacks or end the game early) changed the game too much.


I rather like the new Crown rule. It worked well, and the game played much better with 3.

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P.D. Magnus
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Colour Bazaar is now in the database, in case those of you who have played it would like to post a rating.

EDIT: There's also a javascript score calculator on the mobile-format site.
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M. C. DeMarco
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pmagnus wrote:
Colour Bazaar is now in the database, in case those of you who have played it would like to post a rating.

EDIT: There's also a javascript score calculator on the mobile-format site.


It moved to the wiki at some point.
 
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