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San Marco?

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  • J C Lawrence
    What s the sense on San Marco here? I got to play a game last night and was underwhelmed: There s no social interaction during play, heavily subject to
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 7 7:57 AM
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      What's the sense on San Marco here?

      I got to play a game last night and was underwhelmed:

      There's no social interaction during play, heavily subject to analysis
      paralysis on both the dealer's and each player's part as they select
      their card stack, requires decisions for which there is too little
      information present to reasonably evaluate them (esp given the
      randomity of card draws), high random factors, and seems to encourage
      the dealer at the last round of each 10point group (and especially the
      last round of the game) to play KingMaker.

      Did I miss something?

      Currently I'd likely rate a 2.5 on the BGG scale.

      --
      J C Lawrence
      ---------(*) Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas.
      claw@... He lived as a devil, eh?
      http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/ Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.
    • Eric Shultz
      ... I ve played a few times and liked it. There can be slowdowns on the splitting of cards, but this gets better as people play more and gain experience. The
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 7 9:13 AM
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        --- J C Lawrence <claw@...> wrote:
        >
        > What's the sense on San Marco here?

        I've played a few times and liked it. There can be
        slowdowns on the splitting of cards, but this gets
        better as people play more and gain experience.

        The decision-making/randomness reminds me of Carolus
        Magnus in a way. It's hard to formulate a clear plan
        that you can stick to the whole game. Rather you just
        make plays that may help you the most.

        Eric

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      • J C Lawrence
        On Mon, 7 Jul 2003 09:13:42 -0700 (PDT) ... To expand on my arm waving complaints: The dealer has ten cards to divide into three piles. That s 930
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 7 7:25 PM
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          On Mon, 7 Jul 2003 09:13:42 -0700 (PDT)
          Eric Shultz <swift_4@...> wrote:
          > --- J C Lawrence <claw@...> wrote:

          >> What's the sense on San Marco here?

          > I've played a few times and liked it. There can be slowdowns on the
          > splitting of cards, but this gets better as people play more and gain
          > experience.

          <nod>

          To expand on my arm waving complaints:

          The dealer has ten cards to divide into three piles. That's 930
          permutations for the standard 3/3/4 split. Sure, a large percentage
          of the permutation space can discarded by inspection, but some
          inspection is still required -- especially given that the permutation
          space is in fact larger (eg more unbalanced splits ala 2/2/6 which are
          very potent and potentially attractive in the 10 point rounds). Given
          that I don't find the tendency toward analysis paralysis surprising.
          A general reaction of, "Aww, I give up, this should be good enough!"
          is the more expectable result.

          Just to improve matters, once the deal has been split, the first two
          players then get to largely repeat the same analysis in order to
          select which set to pick -- adding further downtime.

          Cards are over valued. While they are well balanced in relation to
          each other, assuming a typical standard rate of 2 non-point cards per
          split and a typical rate of 3.3 deals per 10 point round, that means
          that a given player will generally receive 20 non-point cards over the
          course of the game. That puts each card as responsible for 5% of your
          contributed final score.

          But, the relative capabilities of the cards interferes. Only 10% of
          the cards are Doje cards, so you really can only expect control
          scoring twice in a game, while attempting to influence it 4 times.
          Taking a three player game and assuming that the three players have an
          equal rate of 1/2/3 and tie positions on the various islands, that
          really means two scoring rounds and two rounds where you have a chance
          of influencing the score. The breakdown is:

          10% scoring Doje cards
          10% infrastructure brige cards
          10% relative position improving banish cards
          70% position enhancing island and swap cards

          Which really says 80% position improvement (16 cards in the game), 10%
          bridges (2 cards in the game), and 2 Dojes.

          Ouch.

          But the card distribution is random, and the total sample set of cards
          played is small, making wild statistical variations in card patterns
          common (happened for us). Additionally as the total number of rounds
          is small, and there's no prediction on future round behaviour, bridge
          placement is a minimum probability calculation across a very unstable
          field. This same fluid randomity makes reasonable decision making
          difficult as luck dominates the next deals. A game of carefully
          correct decisions is easily not rewarded with good position and score
          as its easy for the next deal to render any choice negative due to
          poor probability distribution.

          Next, and this perhaps annoyed me most, there's no social activity in
          the game. It would be perfectly possible to play the game against a
          machine or robots without affecting game play or game values in the
          slightest. There's no interfering with the dealer and his split, no
          mechanism to attempt to persuade the dealer to make the split one way
          or the other, no method of allowing the other players to remain active
          or involved the dealer figures.

          The king maker routines kick in purely as the last deal of each 10
          point round gets to decide whether everybody rolls over 10 together,
          of if there's an extra round, or a banish/VP catchup for the trailer.
          That's a significant power which increases through the three years of
          the game, becoming huge in the last round. Given three player scores
          which are proximal at the end of the game, the last dealer's default
          position is to play KingMaker as he effectively controls the
          distribution of points and VPs across the three players.

          Unghh.

          BTW: Please don't leave this thinking that I like only zero random
          factor computation/counting games. I don't. In fact I dislike those
          even more. Despite the evidence to the contrary I'm a human, and I like
          playing games with other humans, not machines. Absolutely, strategy,
          and tactics are critical to a good game, but so are the people playing
          it and your interactions in-game with them. Otherwise it really is just
          an exercise in mental masturbation.

          Those are among the reasons that I dislike games that advantage card
          counters. I can card count; its not hard. Pretty well everyone I play
          with normally can card count as well, and as easily as me. Advantaging
          the people who make extra effort to do something that's not in itself
          enjoyable is good why? I'm not interested in card counting -- I'm there
          to play games, not pretend to be an Adler.

          > The decision-making/randomness reminds me of Carolus Magnus in a way.

          Ahh, I'm afraid I've not played that one.

          > It's hard to formulate a clear plan that you can stick to the whole
          > game. Rather you just make plays that may help you the most.

          Yeah, that was the bit that bugged me. The decisions made as to splits
          and card applications were educated guesses into a probability field
          where any guess, no matter how risque, had really only a 30% chance of
          being right, a 20% chance of being "close enough" and a 50% chance of
          being "wrong" due to the subsequent deal -- which really just says that
          given that the deal is divided into three "equal splits", that picking
          splits randomly has just as good a chance of advancing your position as
          working thru the permutation space...

          --
          J C Lawrence
          ---------(*) Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas.
          claw@... He lived as a devil, eh?
          http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/ Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.
        • Eric Shultz
          Well, I usually spend about 5 seconds thinking about permutations. Then about 25 putting the cards in little piles. When I choose, I take the set that has
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 7 8:12 PM
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            Well, I usually spend about 5 seconds thinking about
            permutations. Then about 25 putting the cards in
            little piles. When I choose, I take the set that has
            the prettiest colors.

            If that doesn't work, I apply the same strategy I use
            in TransAmerica. I try to let The Force flow through
            me.

            Eric



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          • Rob S
            Two quick questions. 1) Did you play with 3 or 4? With 4, the game becomes unbalanced due to the fact that each set of two cards may be unbalanced. If so,
            Message 5 of 5 , Jul 8 3:58 AM
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              Two quick questions.
              1) Did you play with 3 or 4? With 4, the game becomes unbalanced due to the
              fact that each set of two cards may be unbalanced. If so, try playing with 3.
              It's MUCH better.
              2) Did you split the cards open or closed. Open with table talk allowed adds to
              the social interaction and lowers the chance of a single bad split throwing the
              game off. Closed you have one person slaving while the other two talk about
              Pedro and whether he hit Soriano & Jeter on purpose. Try playing the cards face
              up and having the player making the stacks do so face up.
              3) IMHO, the kingmaker effect is minimal and depends on the group you play with.
              YMMV

              Rob S
              rms@...
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "J C Lawrence" <claw@...>
              To: <Unity_Games@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Monday, July 07, 2003 10:57 AM
              Subject: [Unity_Games] San Marco?


              >
              > What's the sense on San Marco here?
              >
              > I got to play a game last night and was underwhelmed:
              >
              > There's no social interaction during play, heavily subject to analysis
              > paralysis on both the dealer's and each player's part as they select
              > their card stack, requires decisions for which there is too little
              > information present to reasonably evaluate them (esp given the
              > randomity of card draws), high random factors, and seems to encourage
              > the dealer at the last round of each 10point group (and especially the
              > last round of the game) to play KingMaker.
              >
              > Did I miss something?
              >
              > Currently I'd likely rate a 2.5 on the BGG scale.
              >
              > --
              > J C Lawrence
              >
              >
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