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Started by Ry, September 16, 2007, 12:24:59 PM

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I did the search and read the old thread on this, but I have a different idea for making Coins and Dice into cards.

Here's the deal: 
Facedown cards are the Bank, available to everyone. 
Each player's Wealth is a stack of facedown cards in front of them.

Red = Success
Black = Failure

When you add a card to a Complication, you draw it into your hand (either from your Wealth or from the Bank, depending on whether you spent your own or called on an existing trait).

Cards earned on a complication are: Everybody wins the cards they spent back, but the winning side earns a number of cards equal to the losing side as well.

There's a few impacts:  First, you get the "I'm looking at my hand and I'm pretty sure I'm going to win" effect, which I actually like interpersonally.  There's also a small gain of Win-side coins when the two sides of a Complication are equal or the underdog wins, but slightly fewer cards earned if the winning side just crushes the losing side.  In my mind those are more interesting complications, so I'm not worried about it.

Could anyone comment on whether I'm missing something on the math here?


I think the only real issue I see is the number of decks one would need. ;) Perhaps one deck per player and one for the Bank, which, coincidentally, falls into the realm of suggested Coins at 52/player. And if each player's deck had red backs, and the Bank blue, then it'd be real simple to redistribute the cards after the game since each player should only be touching their own deck or the Bank. Distribution-wise, it's still roughly 50/50 that a player is going to draw into a success with Jokers removed. I would wager ties are broken by tallying against a suit "ranking", then? Pretty easy if done alphabetically. Exclude Clubs since they're not successes, count Diamonds, count Hearts then exclude Spades.


Yeah, I've got 4 decks here (2 red and 2 blue Bicycle decks).


That got cut off.  I've got lots of cards here, and more importantly, they're all mine, they're easy to transport, and nobody cares if the decks get mixed up together.  There's no onus on anyone to keep the Bank separate from the players' decks: Draw Cards from the Bank, earn Cards to your Wealth, spend Cards from your Wealth, draw from the Bank when you use Traits in a Complication, draw from your Wealth when you create Obstacles, narrate Events, and create / change Components.


Well, with all due respect to my Wed. night DM...

Unless you're using a sufficient # of cards to draw from, don't you run into the fact that what is drawn so far affects the probability of what remains to be drawn in a way that what has been rolled doesn't affect the rolls to come.

A sufficient # of cards would reduce that effect to being statistically negligible (sorry not sure #, long time since my high school paper on the odds of winning various casino games).

As I understand the piles, if you win back cards you then know if they are win/loss.  This allows some card counting to see if your odds of win/loss on are better from wealth or bank.


Winning back what you spent plus what was spent by the losing side ~ I believe the average return on wagered coins is 1.5 according to RM (if you lose return is 1 for 1, if you win return is 1,2,3,4,5/5x0/10 or 1.5 for 1).  So the return on winning would change.  Rather than being intrinsic to # of dice rolled, it depends on number invoked against you.   You put forward 6, they 2, then you get 8 instead of average of 9, they 7 then 13 instead of 9 etc.  This seems to alter strategy.  Unless you're worried about an opponent "buying you down to zero", there's normally no real reason not to bring dice into a conflict and that supports narrating lots of stuff.  But if what you bring in becomes an asset to winner on a loss, when you think you're going to lose the "strategic" move is then not to spend at all and thereby reduce their win from 1.5 times # spent to # spent.  However if you did spend a few against many and win, outcome is different.  Normally when you "luck out" and win rolling a small # of dice against many, your return is still based on your starting wealth ~ now you would get a magnified return.

If you want to add these considerations to the game that's fine, but to me they add a layer of game to the game I'm not so keen on.

Corrections to my math invited.


What if the "hand" was face down, instead of gameable by the player?  Would that resolve your concerns?  I know there's still room to game the system, but I believe the incentive to back down when the odds are against is offset by the incentive to win big if you win as the underdog.

The real reason I wanted hands of cards was because that way I could work on a "Bangs" mechanic based on cards in hand.  But I'm willing to concede the point if I can find a bridge from 2 resources with a 1:1 ratio into 1 resource.

Mike Holmes

One thing about the Complication resolution rules that's interesting is that only the winner can lose. By which I mean to say that the loser gets back coins equal to the dice rolled, so can't lose money in the outcome. In fact, given that they're probably leveraging controlled components that were created previously, they're probably making Coins. On the other hand, the winner can, in fact, roll 20 dice, get only one victory with a 1, and have lost as many as 19 Coins in the process.

Not likely, but I do regularly see players come out with fewer Coins than dice rolled.

Now, I'm not sure how visible this is to the people playing. So maybe it doesn't have any effect on behavior at all. But the reasons we kept that spread in, instead of ensuring that the winner will always come out ahead in terms of Coins are twofold:
1) the real prize is getting to narrate first, and decide the most important parts of the outcome.
2) we wanted people to have a good reason to "hedge" a bit. That is to keep the odds close, understanding that this means that they reduce their overall risk of a loss.

Basically this is incentive to not just always put every single Coin you have into every single Complication.

Now, again, it's subtle, so I'm not sure how well it works.

But if you make it clearly obvious that winning is always going to put you ahead, then you might push player behavior over the line. Which is what the current system you have does.

You could do any number of things to ameliorate this... like, perhaps, the winner doesn't score anything for face cards. Prolly won't work, but you get the idea of the sort of direction you could go in.

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I have a special deck with 120 cards, 8 suits of 15 cards and 5 face cards per suit (A-10, JQQKK x4suits x2 sets of each)

That might work...

I seriously want to try getting down to just 1 easily stackable resource in a Universalis game.

I also had an idea for getting rid of the distinction between Components and other Facts but that's another thread.  Hell, maybe this is all another game.

Mike Holmes

Facts and Components are the same thing, really. You can even think of dice purchased temporarily for a pool as temporary traits being added to the scene, facts like, "The Sun is In My Opponent's Eyes." Note that all traits and components are explicitly said to imply the corresponding fact. For instance, if there is a Wall component, and I narrate a character running to somewhere on the other side of the wall, the fact of the wall's existence means that you can challenge my narration with a Fact backing it up that there's a wall in the character's way.

Think of it this way, a Component is that quality that is established that allows traits to be attached to a fact of the existence of something. A fact is the quality of that component that allows one to challenge anything that would seem to negate the existence of the component in question.

And, yes, they are "convertible" if you want to think of it that way. If I've established a fact that there's a wall at the end of the street, then I can give that wall a trait, making the wall a component. The cost is always 1 - both to establish the "Factness" of the thing, and to enable it to recieve traits. You just don't need both parts in many cases.

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I have located from the dregs of another deck I was making 160 cards (1-10 in 4 suits x4) and I think that can work as-is for the rules.  I might pick up another deck or two so that we have the 50*4 players thing going. 

Universalis continues to be on the mind.  The stuff I said about "no distinction between facts and components" I'm actually thinking in the opposite direction - rather than make all Facts some kind of Component, I was trying to think of some way to do Conflict without separate Components. 

I'm also thinking that the next time I play I'm going to suggest 3 rules gimmicks semi-cribbed from PTA:

1) Do an informal Pitch meeting first as if it was a TV show of some kind
2) The Scene Framer has to Set and Agenda for the scene (subject to Challenge as always)
3) Named characters must have an Issue

Mike Holmes

That first gimmick is very similar to one that I've seen used a couple of times, where the players have a tenet phase at the beginning of each session. Pretty much the same thing, but if you call it a tenet phase, you have the rules already on hand.

As for the others, they sound pretty interesting. If/when you play them, let us know how they do.

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yeah, the first one is really just a change of style rather than substance.  That goes back to my "shut up and tenet" experience - I think I prefer play where we tenet until everybody has a strong shared idea of what kind of setup we're getting into.