Author Topic: Tiered Deployment  (Read 942 times)

Offline Christopher

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Tiered Deployment
« on: August 31, 2017, 01:38:26 PM »


Anyway, my best girl and I played a game the other night. It was The Tower, Abbeys and Mayors, Ferries, and Robbers (we each picked a large and a small expansion). We had a great game, and enjoyed it for all the reasons we love Carcassonne. However, what we did not enjoy was that 30 tiles into our 118 tile game, we had drawn 10 tower foundations. Not a horrendous ratio, certainly, but more than a little annoying. I'm pretty sure we gave the tiles a good wash before playing, so it seems the Carcassonne Gods simply fancied playing with us that day. Now, I know, this is just how the game works. Tile draw is random. Sometimes you get all of the towers in the first ten minutes, in happens. But, isn't it really annoying? We've all played that game. The last two tiles you draw are Cathedrals. All of the dragon moves are gone before there are even followers on the board. It's just how the game works. But it's annoying.

Because of this, we decided to meddle with things better left untouched. We wanted a way to reduce this effect. What we came up with is a method of playing which we (I) have called 'Tiered Deployment.'

Tiered Deployment

Tiered deployment gives you more control over how often a feature will appear, without completely negating the random aspect of the tile drawn. The idea is this. Tiles are split into a number of separate piles, each with a roughly equal number of tiles, and a roughly equal number of the feature you are looking to stagger. Players draw from one pile, and move onto the next pile when the first is expended. Play proceeds through each of the piles, only moving on to the next when the current pile is exhausted.

Take our example, The Tower. Our 118 tile game gets split into four piles of roughly thirty tiles. Each one has four/five tower foundations in it. By drawing only from one pile, we can only get four/five towers in the first 30 tiles, a much more reasonable number than 10.

This does create problems in the form of tile counting and draw predictability. If you have thirty tiles in the pile, with five tower foundations, once all of them have been drawn you know you're safe until that pile runs out. This is obviously the same as counting 18 foundations over the whole game, but staggering the draw makes it easier to do. We have two solutions for this, which we intend to playtest. The third solution, of course, is to play with Hills. Solution one is that when you reach the last few tiles of the tier you are currently in, you mix it in with the next tier and draw from the combine pile. This eliminates players being able to predict the last tile of that tier because they haven't drawn five towers yet. The other solution is as follows. After the tiers have been made (four piles of thirty piles with four/five towers in each) you take a few tiles randomly (and blindly) from each, mix them all up, then put the same number of tiles back into each tier. Now, any tier may have more/fewer foundations. They may all have the same number as they did. This removes the tile counting and puts back a little bit of the random draw taken out by your meddling.

There you have it. Hypothetically, this could be done with any expansion. Four tiers could each have two goldmines in them, one cult place, five trade cities, etc. That being said, I don't think it would work brilliantly with all expansions. Some expansions rely more on the random draw. We plan to do some playtesting and work out if this is even worth doing, and if so, what are the best numbers. We're currently thinking the size of the tiers should be one quarter or one fifth of the number of tiles you're playing with, and that the number of tiles mixed up from the tiers should be one quarter/one fifth of that.

Let me know what you think! If anyone has a go, or has done this before, I'd be interested to hear how it went. Or, if you think we're dreadful control freaks meddling with the natural order, you'd be right, but I'd be interested to hear that too.


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Offline Paul

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Re: Tiered Deployment
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2017, 04:17:20 PM »
Part of the game is the randomness. It's up to you if you find it annoying. Some might find it funny.

Imagine a real tournament, would really be intense planning to win, part of the thrill.
World record holder for a single game of Carcassonne using 10 007 tiles!

Offline Just a Bill

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Re: Tiered Deployment
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2017, 07:55:28 PM »
Off the top of my head, I might adapt your ideas into a slightly simpler approach that doesn't require a bunch of up-front math/counting.

1. Set out your starting stacks/piles/groups of expansions (or however you like to separate your non-base-game tiles), separately and face down. These are your "staging groups," and in your example you'd have four of them:
  • Tower 18
  • A&M 12
  • Ferry 8
  • Robber 8
2. Now take your base game tiles and — quickly and roughly — add a clump of them to each of the staging groups, again face down. The specific numbers don't matter, but you'd probably want to be roughly proportional. However, don't count anything! Just spread them out. Let's say for this particular game, we happen to end up with something like this:
  • Tower 18 + base 27
  • A&M 12 + base 24
  • Ferry 8 + base 9
  • Robber 8 + base 12
But the players are not paying any attention to the numbers. Just dump some base tiles on each staging group.

3. Now identify three areas on the table where your actual draw stacks will go. You will have exactly three draw stacks, no matter how many players you have. Think of the table as a big triangle.

4. Each player picks up one of the staging groups, shuffles it face-down, and cuts it into three approximately equal thirds; then places one-third of that group in each of the three draw-stack areas. Continue this until each staging group is chopped up randomly and approximately in thirds and distributed to the three draw-stack areas.

(Note that I am assuming the players trust each other and don't peek or stack the decks in any way. This is because I just don't play games with people who are so insecure that they need to violate the rules.)

5. Shuffle each of the three draw stacks individually.

6. To play the game, draw from the first stack until exhausted, then the second, and then finally the third.

In this version it would be impossible to know exactly how many tiles of any expansion are in each draw stack, but there would be a reasonable expectation that it would be "about a third" of that expansion (while still allowing for the occasional statistical extreme).

Off the top of my head, I believe this could accomplish your goal, eliminate the problem of tile-counting as each draw stack becomes exhausted (well, except the last), and allow for quicker setup than your initial proposal.
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Offline Decar

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Re: Tiered Deployment
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2017, 12:38:01 AM »
Good to hear from you again Christopher, you've always brought great ideas to the table.  The phased/tiered introduction of tiles seems like a good way to control the tempo of the game.  The great thing about your suggestion is that it doesn't break the random nature of tile shuffling anyway, it just means you're focusing on a subset of possible games.

I know you like to play quite large games and I can see the ratios of expansions in each of your piles being different and allowing the behind player to select which stack of tiles becomes the next phase.

There are lots of different ways to increase or decrease the distributions of the tiles.  Looking forward to hearing what you come up with!

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