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Author Topic: [Dust Devils] Texas Hold Em mechanic for consideration  (Read 3995 times)
DevP
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« on: August 27, 2006, 02:29:15 PM »

More than a few times, people asked for a Dust Devils mechanic that works with Texas Hold 'em, in part to help ameilorate the problem of running out of cards when you have lots of participants. The trick is making something that plays quick, without creating its own minigame of bluffing/bidding/etc. (Granted, I came up with some fun minigames while brainstorming, but that doesn't help here.) Here's a mechanic that might work:

As in Hold 'em, each player gets two private ("hole") cards. At this point, everyone has an opportunity to fold for 1 Chip. Then the flop (3 public cards), and an opportunity to fold for 2 Chips; then the turn (and an chance to fold for 3 Chips) and the river (a last chance to fold for 4 chips). Finally, those left standing must make the best possible hand and resolve as normal.

The twist: each player adds up the two relevant Attributes (using the Devils instead if necessary), the Trait score and Knack bonus, and the Devil rating if active. Compare that number to the hole cards: any cards with a value less than that number are considered to have a wild suit when it comes to the showdown.

Ex: With Guts 3 and Hand 2, adding my Devil 2 ("prideful") and Trait 2 ("talkin'"), that means any of my hold cards that are 8 or less can be considered a wild suit - making it much more likely to get a flush.

What I like about this is there isn't a lot of extra "gambling" added in, except for the opportunity to fold. The greater chance of flushes - as well as the extra Harm they can dish out - provides the temptation to fold. However, there could be some wierd play coming from the high prevalence of flushes (although high-card will figure out who ultimately wins), and there will be many cases where a player can and will fold when they would otherwise recieve a great amount of Harm. There may need to be some cap on how many cards / which cards can go wild (so that a player can't be guaranteed sitting with two wild-suit cards).

Other suggestions to make this a better fit: (1) The Dealer must automatically stake 1 Chip to go into "hold 'em" mode, basically to compensate for the extra hassle. (2) No chip usage in this mode except for folding.

Does this seem to both work and jibe with the feeling of the game?
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2006, 06:19:30 PM »

This is pretty slick, Dev. I had been mulling exactly this idea -- that is, use a Texas Hold 'em system for large groups. But, I haven't gotten much beyond that concept. One idea I had was that each player gets his Devil in cards (rather than the standard 2), and plays 'em off of the River. It was just an early idea.

Yours is much more thought out. Obviously, the challenge is making that character stuff applicable to each participant rather than just his two standard cards. In other words, how do you make each player have unique input into the much simpler version of poker? You've just shown it's doable. Any chance to play it? I'd love to hear anyone try this out.
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Matt Snyder
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Hans
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2006, 07:40:42 AM »

Does this seem to both work and jibe with the feeling of the game?

First of all, I'm not certain if your goal is to make a resolution mechanic that is as close as possible to the real Texas Hold 'em, or to make a mechanic that is inspired by Texas Hold 'em but is really its own, new thing.  I'm going to assume the latter with my comments below, because that is the option that interests me the most.

* Why not allow people to have a number of hole cards equal to their normal base cards (from attributes, traits, devil) - the three face up cards.  Then, allow them to use their knacks as normal on their hole cards, with the option to keep discarding and drawing to fully use their knacks (i.e. a Knack of 4, but only three hole cards).  This makes the resolution process closer to the original, and preserves the original intent of all the attributes.  If you stick to just the two hole cards, and use the sum of stuff to make flush method, you need to allow people to spend two chips to improve their chances, as a person under the normal system can do this (one to get an extra card, one to discard and draw).

* Chips in Dust Devils simply aren't the same thing as money in Poker...the supply is, in my experience, too small.  (Maybe I am just a miserly dealer.)  Escalating to 4 chips on the river seems too much to me, especially in a one shot game.  On the other hand...folding seems to me to be a pretty rare occurence, so it might not be that big a deal.

* May I suggest that without any connection to the narration and story, the process of flipping one card at a time in the flop is overkill?  Why not just flip them all at once?  Certainly if the main goal is simply to make sure the Dealer doesn't run out cards, flipping them one at a time is not worth the trouble.

* However, if you tie the flipping of one card at a time back into the story and narration this would be fantastic!  It would be a nifty way to really zoom in on a particular conflict and concentrate on it moment by moment.  Here is a way this could be done.  After each card in the flop is turned, any player can, if they choose, reveal a card from their own hand face up and lay it on the table.  Whoever has the highest of these revealed cards can then narrate some action occuring in the story, with the caveat that they cannot narrate either people definitely getting their stakes or, conversely, getting into a situation where getting their stakes is impossible.  For the next flop card, it happens again, with only the card revealed at that moment counting.   On the last card, the person who gets narration rights is the person who has the highest card not already face up.  That is, if you reveal the ace of spades to get narration on the first flop card, it does nothing for you when the conflict finally resolves.  This could lead to some mildly amusing game play as well as interesting narration; people are going to flip cards for the earlier narration, but which card?  You don't want to flip your highest card, because that might sacrifice your chance of getting the final rights.

* To make it even more interesting, I think the amount of harm delivered in the process should be increased somewhat, to reflect the larger amount of time spent.  I suggest that if you take the system in the point above of narration rights, you add to it that if people are able to make hands out of face up cards at a stage earlier than the final resolution, they should do harm with those hands as normal (using Matt's new Harm rules that will be in the Revised edition) .  This means that not only is there narration for each flipped over card, but harm as well, and the whole mechanic becomes more dangerous and interesting.

An example of play, using all the above:

Dev and I are in a conflict.  Our characters are gunfighters, whose stakes are each to gun the other man down.  We deal out the cards, with three flop cards, and each of us takes the remainder of our cards in our hands (Hand+Eye - 3 for both gunfighters), and use our knacks as normal (my characters Quick Draw knack of three, Dev's shootin' knack of 3).  Now, we start.
The first flop is the five of diamonds.  I reveal my own five of hearts, while Dev reveals a ace of clubs.  Dev gets narration rights for this first bit, but I have a pair of fives and do 1 harm to Dev's character, either in diamonds or hearts.  Dev narrates my character positioning himself in the city street with the sun over his shoulder, so that Dev's character has the sun shining in his eyes, taking the harm to Eye. 
The second flop is the jack of hearts.  I reveal a King of hearts, Dev reveals the Jack of diamonds.  I get narration rights, and have a pair of fives still showing, but Dev now also has a pair, and his pair of jacks beats mine.  He does one harm to my character in clubs or hearts.  I narrate Dev's character making a cutting remark about my character's dirty tricks and low down scheming, taking the harm to Heart.
Now the final flop, the ace of clubs.  I show my cards (Queen of hearts and two of hearts) and make a flush of hearts (two (hand), five (face up from hand), jack (flop), queen (hand), king (face up from hand)), a good hand.  Dev reveals two more Jacks...a four of a kind, and I am screwed.  As to narration rights, the highest non-revealed  card in the hands is my Queen of Hearts (Dev's previously revealed Ace of Clubs doesn't help him at this point), so I will get the pleasure of narrating Dev's character drawing that much faster than mine, and drilling my character for four harm.

This would make the Texas Hold 'em in Dust Devils a bit like Bringing Down the Pain in TSOY.  It could be something you would do even when you AREN'T worried about running out of cards; more often its a way to focus the attention in a prolonged way on one piece of action. 
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Hans
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2006, 07:46:23 AM »

* Why not allow people to have a number of hole cards equal to their normal base cards (from attributes, traits, devil) - the three face up cards. 

Clarification, the - in the above sentence is meant to be a minus sign.  That is, the number of hidden hole cards you get is:

Attrib1 + Attrib2 + Traits? +/- Devil? + Chip? - 3

The strange situation would be if a person has 3 or less cards from the above equation, because then using their knacks would seemingly be impossible.  In those cases I would simply let the person draw and keep up to two hole cards using their knacks (making a total of 5 cards), but could not keep MORE than 2 cards.
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Nathan P.
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2006, 08:42:03 AM »

Dev, lets test this out some night during SGBoston. I've never played Dust Devils, but I want too!
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Nathan P.
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2006, 09:58:03 AM »

Nathan, if you guys want, send me an email and I'll fire off a document with the revised rules. matt (at) chimera (dot) info
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Matt Snyder
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DevP
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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2006, 10:19:43 AM »

I'll be happy to try it out on Wed., although I'll first show you what DD straight up is like.

(Matt, sent you an email.)
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DevP
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« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2006, 12:20:51 PM »

Hans,

Thanks for sharing your cool mechanic. Firstly, my goal is to have a resolution mechanic that is most of all like the Dust Devils' resolution method, but with the facade of Texas Hold 'em; I'm not trying to emulate the truly awesome feel of real ultimate Hold 'em, and I myself don't want to veer away into creating an all new mechanic. (That's just my goals; don't let me discourage you! The actual play you describe sounds fabulous.)

One way your mechanic doesn't meet my goals is that it still seems to require many cards. Each participant in the conflict needs about 9 cards (including what they draw for themselves and what they redraw), which lets you get 5 participants in with one deck of cards (whereas I think the default mechanic needs more than one deck with about 4 participants). With the cards in Texas Hold 'em, you can deal in a very large number of participants, although also 6 participants is reaching the limit of how many people can reasonably be in the conflict anyway. To explain my other choices here:

* Chips in Dust Devils simply aren't the same thing as money in Poker...the supply is, in my experience, too small.  (Maybe I am just a miserly dealer.)  Escalating to 4 chips on the river seems too much to me, especially in a one shot game.  On the other hand...folding seems to me to be a pretty rare occurence, so it might not be that big a deal.
* If you stick to just the two hole cards, and use the sum of stuff to make flush method, you need to allow people to spend two chips to improve their chances, as a person under the normal system can do this (one to get an extra card, one to discard and draw).
* May I suggest that without any connection to the narration and story, the process of flipping one card at a time in the flop is overkill?  Why not just flip them all at once?  Certainly if the main goal is simply to make sure the Dealer doesn't run out cards, flipping them one at a time is not worth the trouble.

My thought about the Chips is that folding is rare enough, and I'm still offering a fair price for folding once they've seen 3 of the 5 cards. The cost of folding at the river is high to the point that maybe no one will fold once you're at the river. On the other hand, it might be mitigated by there being no equivalent to a good way to otherwise spend your Chips once you're in the middle of my hold-em mechanic. You could spend them in the beginning, increase your scores (and increase the chances of a flush), but that's perhaps it.

As for the flipping: you're right, much of the time I'd go with just a straight flop of all 5 cards at once, for many cases. But perhaps it could be "Dealer's Option" to play through each phase if there was tension to be had. In that case, I'd let the Dealer take on a slightly more trad GM role, and narrate the rising tension into the scene herself.
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