Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bluff Auction tweaks

I've been considering a few tweaks, and I wanted to get them down before I forget all about them...

1. Receive 2 new dice when Exhibiting a set rather than 1.
I fear that giving up the abilities on the tiles AND the additional points one could get by waiting may be too much, so people won't Exhibit sets until they are forced to. Maybe that's OK, but I'd rather see a viable strategy wherein a player Exhibits early and often in order to get more dice, so those dice help that player win more tiles or at least the tiles they really want more often. Perhaps getting 2 more dice will be better, though I also think this could be a perception thing...

In any case, it seems like players only Exhibit about 3 sets anyway in larger player count games, so getting 2 dice at a time might get more of the total dice in play. Lower player count games seem to see players getting 4 or 5 Exhibits...

I am unsure about this tweak.

2. Change the Extra Bid Token to some other power: "Regrowth"
The Extra Bid Token has always been a powerful tile, one of my favorites. It is like an investment - you take this tile, which will not score, and will take up space in your museum, and you get something which can absolutely translate into winning more tiles than you would have otherwise. Of course, winning just 1 extra tile means you're breaking even, but winning 2 extra is a benefit. In this game, in addition to the possibility of winning more total tiles, having an extra bid also sort of increases the probability of you winning tiles with your other bids, or forcing other players to outbid (and not win tiles) anyway.

Having the Extra Bid Token come out in rounds 7/8 means you can use it only 1 or 2 times, which really seems to neuter it. Having it come out in rounds 1-4 really makes it too powerful. So unless I want to complicate the staging of the Special tiles even further, I might have to admit that the Extra Bid Token is not a good fit for the game. Also, the Consolation rule that you get an extra bid token seems good and appropriate, and that's lessened if an opponent has an extra bid token every round already (though still kinda fair because he won that auction and is committing a slot in his museum to that tile).

An alternative could be another tile I used to have in the old version of the game, a tile which you could exchange for any unclaimed or discarded tile. I'm not sure when you would do this - any time you want, I imagine, as it doesn't affect any other players. The value of that tile might go up or down depending on how the game plays out - in a game where no tiles are discarded, the tile would be worthless (though I'm considering another tweak that makes every tile you have worth something - see next point). And even in a game where tiles are left unclaimed or discarded, it's possible they won't happen to fit into a set for you (which is somewhat within your control), and so unless they're Art it's still kinda worthless. On the other hand, if you can claim a tile that fits nicely into a set, it could be worth 5 or 6 points!

I might give this a try.

3. Art scoring
Currently players are allowed to score leftover tiles in their museum as if they were sets, and they get a bonus set of star icons from their Art tiles in play (which is independent, so the art tiles could be parts of different sets). I think it might be better to simplify and reduce that - I would like to try final scoring like this:

Players get 1 point for each tile in their Museum (unexhibited, including special tiles), and each Art tile that is face up is worth an additional 3 points.

This would be easier to calculate, I think, and easier to explain... and more importantly I think it will encourage players to Exhibit more often rather than just waiting until the end of the game. The Art scoring means that you are rewarded for holding onto Art unless you happen to have a set of 7, in which case you ought to go ahead and Exhibit it and free up the space. You might want to Exhibit a set of 6, as you don't lose out on that much bonus, and it frees up your museum. It really rewards holding onto 5 or fewer Art tiles though, which is what I want - giving up abilities in return for bonus points.

I'll note that if ALL tiles (including Special tiles) are worth 1 point at the end, then getting a Special tile that doesn't end up helping you isn't worthless.

4. Go back to disallowing 2 bids on same track. While in some ways mechanically interesting, I think allowing 2 bid tokens on the same track is anti-thematic, and I don't like the dynamic it creates enough for the rules complication it requires.

No comments: