Monday, August 10, 2009

Cow Tipping details

I had a few thoughts today about Cow Tipping... I don't know whether they are good ideas or not at this point, but I think they are worth considering. There are 2 different ideas, completely unrelated...

1. Numbers on cards are highly anti-thematic. You're allegedly recruiting a gang of cows, so what's the deal with cards with numbers on them? Suppose instead that the cards simply had 1 of 7 or 8 different cows pictured. Then instead of a Set of like ranked cows or a Run of several cow cards in numerical order in the same suit, there would simply be "All the same suit" gangs and "All different suit" gangs.

I'll note that if you look at Rank instead of Suit in the current version of the game, a Set gang (all the same Rank) is just like the proposed "All same suit" gang. In the current game there are 5 suits, 7 ranks. So a Set gang would be the same as a "Same Suit gang" if there were 7 suits.

It would be much easier however to get a Run gang (All different suits), because it would not require a specific numerical ordering. Therefore the tipping costs would have to increase for that type of gang.

The purpose here is two-fold: Get rid of the antithematic numbers on the cards, and make more nice pictures of cow characters. As an added bonus, it might be easier to grasp how to make a set for a young player - either all the cards have to match, or none match.

2. Scoring has been touted as too complicated for the game. I'm not sure I agree with that, especially if using the "Draw 2" mechanism rather than the original "refill hand to 7" rule. However, it occurred to me that it might be easier to simply count majorities for each type of vehicle tipped and for each color. there are 10 categories (5 types of vehicle, 5 colors), and for each category there could be a player with the most cards collected. The player with the "most mosts" could be declared the winner.

This could devalue the importance of variable costs and the fact that Busses are harder to tip (cost more) than Motorcycles, making it a race for the Motorcycles for example. Another possibility is that a Motorcycle majority isn't worth anything, Car/Truck majorities are worth 1 point, Tractor majorities worth 2, and Bus majority worth 3... color majorities worth 1 point each. This kind of thing would sort of be a middle point, still some adding of points, but the numbers would be smaller. There could even be 10 scoring cards, 1 picturing each type of vehicle and 1 picturing each color, which he winner of each majority would take, making it really easy to add up their points (VPs could be listed on the card)

Another thing to note is that once you have 3 Trucks, there's less incentive to get a 4th Truck. It's worth something for the color, but since you already have the majority in Trucks then it doesn't help anymore.

In other news:
The turn sequence has thus far always been "Tip, Discard, Draw." This made a lot of sense when the "draw" meant "refill your hand to 7 cards" - if you didn't discard first and didn't tip anything then you would already have 7 cards! When using the "Draw 2" rule it was less important, and players often wanted to draw first, then discard.

I was pretty adamant that Tip/Discard/Draw was the same as Draw/Tip/Discard, just delayed by a turn, but players were still unhappy with the prospect of having to choose a discard then drawing something matching the card just discarded. I pointed out that if you drew at the beginning of your turn, you'd have the same issue drawing a card that worked with the one you discarded at the end of last turn... I was only met with the bad logic "at least you'd have something else to choose from!"

I understood the reason the designer placed the draw at the end of the turn was so that when a player's turn came around, they'd know whether they were going to Tip or not, and they wouldn't have to reconsider based on the new cards they drew. What I didn't consider was reorganizing the turn as "Tip/Draw/Discard" - which still puts the card draw after the Tip, but also allows players to draw new cards before having to discard one.

One major factor which led me to agree that this was in fact better than Tip/Discard/Draw was that sometimes you Tip using all the cards in your hand, and in that case you have no card to discard. So you don't. Then you draw 2 cards... thus gaining Card Advantage (as we used to call it in the old days of Magic). The person doing this is generally someone who has tipped, and probably tipped several times in quick succession since their hand wasn't built back up. Therefore the person is likely winning, and why should they get an advantage of any kind? They shouldn't - this is just what I thought was wrong with the "Refill Hand to 7" rule. So yes, it's true, Tip/Draw/Discard is a better turn order. It also felt a little more like I was building up a set on purpose that way. I'll be using that rule from now on.

1 comment:

Matthew Frederick said...

Cows have numbered tags on their ears, so it's not really that anti-thematic. Especially if the theme is numbered, costumed cows forming gangs.