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Author Topic: 9W: Card Mecahnics  (Read 2847 times)
Mike Holmes
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« on: August 13, 2003, 10:12:40 AM »

The last thread got all tied up with the philosophical ramifications. So I talked to Matt, and he agreed that it would be cool to talk about some of the mechanics that I'd proposed. Here's what it said:

Quote
Instead of counting all the cards up in case of ties, why not use a sorcerer-esque method, and just look at the highest ones, and compare. If these are tied, then go to the next pair, etc. If the opponent has no opposing card for comparison, you win. Only in the case of exactly the same cards, then, would you have to go to the single card draws. For narration, just do the reverse.

This has several effects:
* it's much quicker than adding things up.
* ties at this level would be even more rare (they have to be the same cards, not just the same total).
* it makes the kings more valueable than queens, etc. meaning that the player has to discriminate (in the system as is, you only have to consider that as a third tier assumption).
* it intensifies the strategy, as one has to look at the potential chain of effects, as opposed to simply posting the highest total. For instance, if I have three of each of two suits that have the same Urge value, instead of simply putting out the one with the highest total, I may have to consider a chain that's lower in total value, but has a very high card to start. So a queen, 3, 2, may be a better option than a 10,9,8, depending on how many other cards the opponent has. What's really cool, however, is that if It makes playing the Q, 2 (with the potential trick), a lot more attractive in comparison to the 10, 9, 8. Basically it encourages gambling.

Also, what ever you do, I'd skip having a third tier draw-off. Given the rarity under either system, I'd have some cool third event happen, other than win/lose. The obvious choices are actual ties, or delays, etc, but given the background, I'm sure you can come up with something more dramatic.

I also must mention that there's something in me that wants even more strategy to the card play.

As it stands there's no inter-player play, really, it's just the player trying to figure out their best hand from what they have. As an example, cards could be selected one at a time from the lowest the player intends to play, going up. Once during the chain the player could change suits. So the player has a chance to see what they're up against, and play out potentially multiple strategies. It would also allow bluffing by playing a middling card of a suit to start, you're saying that the following will all be higher, which might not be true as you then change suit. Anyhow, not a great example, but by doing something like this, you make for intra-player competition in the mechanic. Which I think would be cool.

Also, something like this would solve another problem that I see, which is that you don't have an order for play right now. That is, you simply say that players place their cards in play. But wouldn't you wait to see what your opponent laid? If he plays a low hand, then perhaps you can get more tricks by playing a hand that would not, otherwise, be the one most likely to win (especially aces). Therefore, everyone has incentive to wait until everyone else has played, and nobody will play.

You need to have an order. If it's all simo, that's fine, but a player would have to select his hand, place it face down, and then, when all have selected, reveal. Even that's not fair, however, as a player might note the size of the hand to be played, which could give an advantage. Playing cards simo, one by one, solves this, and adds a dramatic build up to the resolution (though it would be longer).

Other things could be added to intensfy strategy in the card play. Aces, for instance, seem very special. To really get people to gamble with them, have them worth two tricks instead of one (and if using the comparison method I have above, they are the first card that's compared, but still the lowest value, making them really risky), or maybe make this the function of twos. You could allow a player to discard four cards to pick another one. This would rapidly deplete a player's hand, but it would allow them to gamble when they think their hand isn't enough (OTOH, it allows strong hands to increase as well).

Lot's of possibilities.


What do folks think? Anything stick here?

Mike
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Lxndr
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2003, 10:16:02 AM »

I don't have anything insightful to add.

But I do like your suggestion.
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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2003, 10:22:15 AM »

I'm going to post more, Mike, but for now, I'll just say I like many of your ideas. I really like the tie-breaker mechanism you suggest. I also like the one-at-a-time idea of revealing cards 'round the table. I set out intially to do something like this (as the game was heavily inspired by Pitch, and to a much lesser extent Bridge). However, I couldn't make it work, nor was I satisfied with the time involved in doing this.

Like Pitch, I had envisioned several rounds of hands in which each victorious player of a round would earn tricks. This would progress until all cards had been played. Then, when all was said and done, players alloted Tricks according to what they had won, and the person(s) with the greatest amount won the conflict (one idea, anyway).

Clear as mud? If you play Pitch, Euchre or similar games it might make more sense to you. My hang-up, though, was that I couldn't visualize what was going on in each round. What happens when players go "blow-by-blow" but still are doing conflict resolution. There are games that do this, of course, but I couldn't figure it out with my then-clumsy card mechanic.

I settled on the current mechanics for the sake of simplicity. One thing I had to let go of was Trump, which was something I really wanted to include. This post has me thinking again about how I might include it. Need to think on it! If anyone has ideas, I'll be waiting in the wings to steal the viciously. ;)
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Matt Snyder
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2003, 01:21:34 PM »

Quote
Clear as mud? If you play Pitch, Euchre or similar games it might make more sense to you.


This is another thing that I wanted to address. I play Euchre, occasionally, but more often I play the state game of Wisconsin, the great traditional German game known as Sheepshead. A very complicated game, the best version of which is five-handed (diamonds trump, call your ace, and I'll go to the grave to defend this as the best method, all you northwood club-trumping, red-jack-partners sorts notwithstanding!).

I also play very bad bridge, Clubs, Spades, Hearts, a game called "the Bidding Game" (sometimes called Diamonds or "Oh, Pshaw"), and a very cool game called Team-bid Euchre played with just the face cards and aces from two decks of cards. That's right, four bowers in every hand.

I think that it's safe to say that I like trick-taking games.

The concern that I have is that, well, you don't take tricks in this game. The term is being used metaphorically, but, as we've seen, that's been problematic to at least one potential player's understanding so far. I guess what I'm saying is that, either you should work in actual trick-taking, or you should change the name.

Here's an idea:

    [*]Players each play a card from their hand face down to determine who has to call trump first. Call this "initiative".

    [*]The initiative cards are revealed simultaneously.

    [*]Starting with the lowest player, and going on up, each player has to declare their trump suit.
      [*]Jokers are the lowest card, but if played in the initiative phase, allow that player to change one opponent's trump after he has selected it.
      [*]In the case of tied values, the players check the Urge associated with the suit of card that they played, and similarly count up to determine who has to declare trump next.
        [*]If that's a tie, their trump suit is the suit of the card played for both characters.[/list:u][/list:u]

        [*]Just so we're clear, at the end of the "initiative" phase, the player has his own personal trump suit.

        [*]Each player then discards as many of their cards as they need to in order to get down to the hand size of the smallest hand in play. So if the players have 5, 6, and 7 cards each, the players with 6 and 7 get to discard down to 5.

        [*]Then play starts with the player who declared trump last leading the first trick, and then on down in initiative order. (players can keep their initiative cards in front of them to keep track. The reason for this rule is to make the order different in each hand. If it remained the same, then the dynamics are stilted by the seating arrangements).

        [*]Play proceeds as per typical trick-taking games. Players have to follow suit unless they have no card of that suit, in which case they can play anything they like.

        [*]Per usual, the highest value card takes the trick, all trump being higher than all non-trump (but remember that what's trump for you is not neccessarily trump for me).
          [*]Jokers are trump, but the lowest value. They can be played, however, on any trick.
          [*]Aces are only higher than Jokers, and only if Trump. Otherwise they are the lowest card.
          [*]The player taking the trick must narrate the rising action of the Conflict with his character making some gain.
            [*]If the player doesn't want to narrate, he may discard the trick. [/list:u][/list:u]

            [*]At the end of the hand, the player adds the number of tricks he took to his Urge rating, to determine total score. If there's a tie, then the player with the most of his own trump in his hand wins. If that's a tie, then those players tie.

            [*]Players can take as many "pointers" (J, Q, K, A, Joker) from their opponent's hands as they took tricks.
              [*]The highest scorer takes first, and then the second, and so on.
              [*]Players can only take from a lower scoring player.
              [*]Tied players look to their initiatives, the highest taking first.
                [*]If their initiatives are tied, then they are "locked in conflcit". They cannot take any pointers from anyone else, and must immediately have another conflict following the resolution of this one. [/list:u]
                [*]If there are fewer pointers remaining amongst lower scoring players (or no lower scoring players) the player can only take what's available. [/list:u]

                [*]The player gets one point per "pointer" and two for aces. These are used as per Tricks, currently.  

                [*]The player with the lowest score (not points), gets to narrate the final outcome of the Conflict.
                  [*]If two or more are tied, then the lowest initiative between the tied parties narrates. If these are tied, then the next highest scorer narrates. If there are all ties, then the GM narrates. [/list:u][/list:u]
                  OK, that's pretty complicated. But it sounds like fun to me.

                  Mike
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                  Mike Holmes
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                  « Reply #4 on: August 15, 2003, 08:24:33 AM »

                  That bad?  ;-)

                  Mike
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                  Lxndr
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                  « Reply #5 on: August 15, 2003, 08:34:47 AM »

                  * Since "what's trump for you isn't necessarily what's trump for me" what happens if, say, two people play the trump cards of their suit, and it's the same number.  Who wins?

                  * Why discard down to the lowest # of cards?  I can see, in your 5/6/7 scenario, the 5-card player collecting tricks, then once he runs out of cards, the other two play it off with their remaning cards, and then the 7 card guy, with 1 card remaining, gets an extra "trick."  I'm not sure how that would imbalance/rebalance things, but it seems like a guy with 7 cards vs. a guy with one card shouldn't have to necessarily toss a bunch of cards... because that means less tricks, and thus less pointers.

                  Overall, though, it looks neat :)
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                  « Reply #6 on: August 15, 2003, 09:57:05 AM »

                  Nah, just haven't had time to sit still and think through it. I'm gonna do that, along with other requested playtests of other's games this weekend. Back scratching, if you will.
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                  Matt Snyder
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                  Mike Holmes
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                  « Reply #7 on: August 15, 2003, 10:02:40 AM »

                  Good questions.
                  Quote from: Lxndr
                  * Since "what's trump for you isn't necessarily what's trump for me" what happens if, say, two people play the trump cards of their suit, and it's the same number.  Who wins?
                  As in other card games with mutliple cards of the same value, first played. Yeah, it sucks when I play a 10 and finesse your 10.

                  Quote
                  * Why discard down to the lowest # of cards?  I can see, in your 5/6/7 scenario, the 5-card player collecting tricks, then once he runs out of cards, the other two play it off with their remaning cards, and then the 7 card guy, with 1 card remaining, gets an extra "trick."  I'm not sure how that would imbalance/rebalance things, but it seems like a guy with 7 cards vs. a guy with one card shouldn't have to necessarily toss a bunch of cards... because that means less tricks, and thus less pointers.


                  Considered that option, but discarded it for several reasons:

                  * Being able to take tricks automatically just because you have more cards than your opponent is too powerful and determininstic. At some points you'd win automatically. Actually that can still occur with this method, but it'd be very rare.
                  * Less tricks means shorter resolution of what's already a long form of resolution.
                  * Chucking cards isn't a disadvantage, rather, as people who play a lot of these sorts of games know, being able to "void" yourself in a suit, and that sort of thing is often key to a good hand. Basically you get rid of the crap cards that make your hand vulnerable. So there's an advantage to the extra cards.
                  * The lower your opponent's ability, the less of a challenge, and the less reward you get from it.
                  * Playing a small hand becomes a delaying tactic. It means that you are trying to forstall the inevitable. So, if outclassed, the best bet may be to use your lower of Hubris or Arete. The GM can activate your muses even if you don't however. Basically it makes a tactic out of the "lesser" abilities. It also means that if you aren't invested in a Conflict that you risk less.

                  Mike
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                  Mike Holmes
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                  « Reply #8 on: August 15, 2003, 10:44:33 AM »

                  Following up on the answers to Alex's questions, here's a very different version:
                    [*]When a conflict starts, the players draw cards equal to Hubris or Arete plus appropriate Muses (as determined by the GM).

                    [*]Players with more cards than the player with the least amount of cards must discard down to that number of cards.

                    [*]Starting with the person who declared the Conflict, bidding on Trump begins.
                      [*]A bid includes the suit that the player wants to be Trump, and the number of tricks that they think they can take plus their Urge score associated with that suit; first stating the number of tricks, and then the total in an "X for Y" format. So, if I think I can take 4 tricks with spades and my associated urge is 3, the declared bid would be "4 for 7". [/list:u]

                      [*]The bid rotates to the left. Each player must make a higher total bid, Join or pass. That is the last number stated must be higher than that of the last bid made.
                        [*]If Joining, the player states which player he's joining forces with. That player can then accept or reject the attempt to Join.
                        [*]If the player accepts, the players are now a Team.
                        [*]Once a player has joined with someone he cannot join again.
                          [*]If all player's Join with each other, then the Conflict has been resolved amicably.[/list:u]
                          [*]If the player refuses, the player attempting to join Passes instead. [/list:u]

                          [*]Play continues to the left until a player wins the bid.
                            [*]A player wins the bid, if/when he bids as many tricks (the first number) as there are cards in the hand, or after his bid all other players pass. The suit bid by the winner becomes Trump for the hand. [/list:u]

                            [*]Play begins with the player who won the bid leading the first trick. Play is very standard per such games, then.

                            [*]When the last trick is taken, count tricks for the score with all tricks of a team counting as one score (though they should keep their own Tricks in front of them).
                              [*]If the player who won the bid, or the team with that player on it, took as many or more tricks than they bid, they win the conflict, and all other players are losers. If the bidders fail to do so, then they are all losers, and everyone else are winners. [/list:u]

                              [*]Starting with the winners, add the number of tricks the player took to their Urge score. Starting with the highest score, each winner can take as many pointers from the losers as tricks they have taken.
                                [*]In case of a tie, the player with the highest Urge score gets to take first.
                                [*]If that's tied, then the Bidder, if one of the tied players, or the tied player closest to his left goes next. [/list:u]

                                [*]After the winners take, the losers add the number of tricks each player took to their Urge score. Starting with the highest score, each loser can take as many pointers from the other losers as tricks they have taken.
                                  [*]Order in the case of ties is resolves per the rules for winners. [/list:u]

                                  [*]Players can then spend the points they have per the current Tricks rule.[/list:u]

                                  Mike
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                                  MathiasJack
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                                  « Reply #9 on: August 15, 2003, 12:20:54 PM »

                                  I think I like, Mike.

                                  The only thing that comes to mind - I don't think the card mechanic should overwhelm the concept of the game. In otherwords, I could see myself getting observed in playing out the conflicts more than the actual game I sat down to play.

                                  But something about bidding for Trump is really cool to me. Does it need to be a bid though? What happens if the highest Hubris or Arete (depending on which the individual player has called on) in the conflict decided Trump. Would this allow for enough variety? Would a low powered Hubris or Arete character be able to compete without ever calling Trump? Intuitively, I think this would work with making it a lot simpler. Mike is able to digest this stuff on a higher level than my intuitiveness though.

                                  Help me understand something as well, so I know I am comprehending it all: What's the difference between Pointers and Tricks?

                                  Off,
                                  The Tricky Jack

                                  PS.
                                  On a related off-hand topic, I think it was you who brought up this suggestion Mike, and it is one that has crossed my mind several times in different forms. Is there mechanical consequences to whether one picks Hubris or Arete, as in if one chooese Hubris they get direct narrative control where as Arete...gets something else?
                                  I don't think this was over recovered as the original thread became overwhelming.

                                  PPS.
                                  Have any shuffle ideas come across to you Mike? Anything further in that department Matt?
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                                  Mathias the Jack
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                                  « Reply #10 on: August 15, 2003, 12:35:35 PM »

                                  Quote from: MathiasJack
                                  The only thing that comes to mind - I don't think the card mechanic should overwhelm the concept of the game. In otherwords, I could see myself getting observed in playing out the conflicts more than the actual game I sat down to play.
                                  Yeah, in each case I had to ensure that the game didn't make any sense as a game itself. OTOH, if you count nickel a point...

                                  Quote
                                  But something about bidding for Trump is really cool to me.
                                  Standard rule from Bridge to Euchre.

                                  Quote
                                  Does it need to be a bid though? What happens if the highest Hubris or Arete (depending on which the individual player has called on) in the conflict decided Trump. Would this allow for enough variety? Would a low powered Hubris or Arete character be able to compete without ever calling Trump? Intuitively, I think this would work with making it a lot simpler.
                                  Double advantage. It's a general rule that, barring other  mitigating circumstances that you don't want to reward the same thing in the same way twice. In this case you're making the higher scorer more likely to win in two ways. Getting your trump is usually a big advantage. Which is why the bidding mechanic works so well to balance it out. Great strategy involved as well. Pretty much the only skill in playing Bridge is bidding. The rest is very straightforward.

                                  Quote
                                  Help me understand something as well, so I know I am comprehending it all: What's the difference between Pointers and Tricks?
                                  Tricks in my terminology is the taking of a set of cards laid down. So, if the cards fall QC, 5C, 3C, and I play the King of clubs, then I "take the trick". I pick up the cards involved and lay them down next to me in a neat pile that I can count later.

                                  Pointers are cards that the game has specifically given value. As it stands they are Joker, J, Q, K, A. One of the cool things about how games like this work is that it's not just enough to take enough tricks, you have to also try to get enough points. It's actually completely possible that one of the "losers" through good play, may end up with more pointers with which to do stuff (though very unlikely).

                                  Quote
                                  On a related off-hand topic, I think it was you who brought up this suggestion Mike, and it is one that has crossed my mind several times in different forms. Is there mechanical consequences to whether one picks Hubris or Arete, as in if one chooese Hubris they get direct narrative control where as Arete...gets something else?
                                  I proposed that. As for now, it's not in the rules. What is in the rules is that you expose the other trait when you use the one in question. So there's automatic balance there, which is cool.

                                  Quote
                                  Have any shuffle ideas come across to you Mike? Anything further in that department Matt?
                                  Not from me.

                                  Mike
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                                  « Reply #11 on: August 15, 2003, 12:40:44 PM »

                                  Quote from: MathiasJack

                                  PPS.
                                  Have any shuffle ideas come across to you Mike? Anything further in that department Matt?


                                  I had suggested the following in the other thread, but I think it got buried.

                                  Quote

                                  3) I do love the card randomizer mechanic. I think that's pretty slick. I would be in favor of incorporating the idea of cosmic Karma into the game, by not reshuffling after every deal. I'd take whatever suit was used and discard it, shuffling the rest back in. Using the same power over and over would thus drain the deck requiring the player to seek a balance with other Urges. Having a single high Urge would allow some really lofty totals...but would leave the character vulnerable when he ran low on that suit.

                                  One could probably come up with some clever reshuffle mechanics. One I had thought of was allowing the player to reshuffle any time he wants at the cost of permanently "burning" one card of his highest Urge.
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                                  « Reply #12 on: August 16, 2003, 03:29:14 AM »

                                  I really like the idea of Trump. It shows some contest of wills to begin with in a conflict.

                                  I really like the use of Pointers as well as Tricks. It gives the game an extra layer to its success mechanic.

                                  Your second example made more sense to me compared to the first one, BTW Mike.

                                  Quote
                                  Quote
                                  Quote:
                                  Does it need to be a bid though? What happens if the highest Hubris or Arete (depending on which the individual player has called on) in the conflict decided Trump. Would this allow for enough variety? Would a low powered Hubris or Arete character be able to compete without ever calling Trump? Intuitively, I think this would work with making it a lot simpler.

                                  Double advantage. It's a general rule that, barring other mitigating circumstances that you don't want to reward the same thing in the same way twice. In this case you're making the higher scorer more likely to win in two ways. Getting your trump is usually a big advantage. Which is why the bidding mechanic works so well to balance it out. Great strategy involved as well. Pretty much the only skill in playing Bridge is bidding. The rest is very straightforward.

                                  Well, actually Mike, it /wouldn't/ always be the same. Using the Urges, plus what Tricks and Pointers one picks up, you can raise or lower your opponents' Virtues. So the player who had the advantage the first hand of conflict of calling the Trump, loses it in the second hand since his opponent lowered the player's Hubris below her own. My reasoning is that this "type" of bidding, raising and lowering the Virtues, returns the game's focus to the game rather than the cards.

                                  This is what I had suggested in my post that earned me a free book (YES! Did I say thank you yet Matt? Thank you!!):
                                  Quote
                                  Um... could the Urges be used on the deck itself?
                                  Say:

                                  Stasis: spend to makes a deck unshufflable

                                  Metamorphosis: spend to reshuffle right then and there

                                  Chaos: spend to pull a certain number of your opponent's card into their discard pile

                                  Cosmos: spend to pull a cartain number of your own cards from your discard pile

                                  Normally decks reshuffle only when they run out?

                                  This would possibly mean there's some mechanic for an Archon to be able to do things without cards as suggested earlier in the thread...

                                  Valamir, I definitely like the idea that what suit you used to win Tricks/Pointers is discarded, mimicking the lowering of that power from use. And I do think that the deck should shuffle only inbetween scenes. What happens if a single conflict uses up all the cards? As I suggested in the above quote, reshuffle - or maybe you're just screwed, Fate has run out?
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                                  « Reply #13 on: August 16, 2003, 10:46:17 AM »

                                  Quote from: MathiasJack
                                  I
                                  Well, actually Mike, it /wouldn't/ always be the same. Using the Urges, plus what Tricks and Pointers one picks up, you can raise or lower your opponents' Virtues.


                                  You misunderstand what I'm getting at. The player is rewarded with a larger hand size already for having the higher score. Then to reward him with getting to decide trump in the same hand, for the same reason, is a double reward for that hand. Yes, the balance could shift, but with this much advantage for the leader, I don't think it would except for really rare cases.

                                  Mike
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                                  « Reply #14 on: August 17, 2003, 06:18:19 PM »

                                  Finally getting around to commenting, Mike.

                                  The second rules list seems more in line with what I was getting at with rules ideas last fall and winter. I still see the same stumbling blocks for players as I did then.

                                  First and foremost is what MathiasJack hit on Ė that the card mechanics become too overwhelming to whatís going on in play. As the metagame takes over, I canít properly envision whatís going on. What does it mean, in the game, to declare Trump, for example. I have no idea, and Iíve tried to figure that out for a long time. (Originally, I called this the Oracle or Omen, meaning the Archonís prediction of Fate, and how much he might be in line with that via Trump.) Plainly, I just think this parade takes too much time.

                                  Second, is this: Play begins, and each trick is won/lost. But, we donít know whoís going to win the conflict. In fact, we may not know that until round 5 of the cards. This may sound cool in that it builds tension and excitement. I see that. However, I also see it as very problematic to describe the scene, perhaps much to your advantage as you narrate, then realize you lose by three tricks in the conflict. Further, you as a player donít yet know, until allís said and done, how many Pointers (or what I call Tricks) youíll actually bring in. So, youíre describing actions, and yet have no notion of when, where and how your pointers go into play.

                                  In other words, I *think* this is a matter of Fortune in the End? Maybe. Heck, doesnít matter. It just makes it hard to narrate when 1) thereís lots and lots of timely metagame happening and 2) you donít yet know what the real outcome is. In this way, youíll be narrating as you take Tricks, and then again as you distribute Pointers, yes? If that is a workable solution, it seems too involved to me.

                                  So, while Iím interested in finding some means to include Trump, I just keep finding the same barriers I was trying to get around when first creating the rules.

                                  Regarding shuffling

                                  I like both MathiasJack's and Ralph's (Valamir's) shuffling suggestions. I think I will very likely have players "discard" played cards. As Ralph suggests, this forces players to balance out their use of Urges.

                                  As for using urges in some way to shuffle, I like the idea very much. Now, I just have to figure out how to do it. One idea would require players to spend Tricks or maybe Muses ratings (or maybe both) to activate the Urges to shuffle. Thinking on it . . . .
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                                  Matt Snyder
                                  www.chimera.info

                                  "The future ain't what it used to be."
                                  --Yogi Berra
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