Monday, July 27, 2009

Cow Tipping Dev't...Nevermind what I said before!

In my last post I postulated about what makes a Rummy Variant vs simply a set building game, and I had some ideas for Cow Tipping along those lines.

Upon further reflection, I think I need to reverse pretty much all my opinions about those ideas to change Cow Tipping. The Thurn & Taxis mechanism is neat, but I think it's too complicated for this particular game. Perhaps I'll be able to use it in some other game in the future.

Also, building sets on the table is probably more trouble than it's worth - with one notable exception which I'll talk about in a minute.

I had a much simpler thought yesterday, and after trying it was pleased to see that it fixed just about everything I saw as a problem with the game. The only change from the original, as written rules is that instead of filling your hand to 7 cards at the end of your turn, you simply draw 2 cards. Those 2 cards can come from any combination of discard piles and the draw deck - except not both from the same discard pile (though maybe that would be OK too). Here's why this seems to work...

One major problem I saw was that when refilling your hand to 7 cards every turn, you really just want to tip whatever you can as soon as you can to churn through cards. The more cards you draw, the more chance you'll make a set and tip again. There's no additional cost to tip a more expensive Bus an to tip a Car... you should just tip the car if you can and see if you draw a set again to tip the bus. If you did, hurray! If not, drat! It's all just luck. If you draw 1 card at a time waiting to get a big enough set to tip the bus, either you'll get super lucky and the cards you need will come up right away, or you'll lose to someone who tips frequently and draws more cards.

Consider the Draw 2 rule instead. Now if you tip with a 3 card gang, it takes you 3 turns to recover your hand size, while if you tip with a 5 card gang, it takes you almost twice as long. This is fair, because you're likely getting a Bus instead of a Car which is worth more! In addition, each of those turns you're drawing cards which you're more likely to want, not just 5 off the top of the deck that are completely random. You can actually work toward building a set.

When playing this way I really felt a sense of accomplishment when I tipped a vehicle. Like I'd built up to something and then was rewarded for my effort. Also, I often had to choose between tipping a cheaper vehicle now, or continuing to build my gang to get a more expensive Tractor or Bus - and this was a realistic choice, meaning I would realistically be able to build up my Gang. Alternatively, I could have 2 sets going on in my hand, and I could tip something small, preserving the other set I was working on.

Tipping a Bus for 6 cards now meant my hand was decimated and it took a while before I could tip again - which is how it should be!

The fact remains that some players have said the scoring is too complicated. I'm not sure how sold I am on that though. Maybe it's fine the way it is. It's possible the numbers are off or something, but that's a different (and fixable) issue.


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised it took you so long to come to that conclusion, given that it was your idea to use that system in All for One for pretty similar reasons... :)

-- David

SDS said...

To simplify the scoring, can you do a running tally of scores during the game instead of scoring all at once at the end? Like score for sets immediately, then do colors at the end?

Seth Jaffee said...

Keeping track of that score would be a hassle - more hassle than counting it up at the end, I think.