Author Topic: Alternative Rules for The Robbers  (Read 948 times)

Offline dunsany

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Alternative Rules for The Robbers
« on: January 05, 2022, 09:32:25 AM »
Please find attached my alternative rules for playing "The Robbers" expansion, avoding ythe need to place the robber meeple on the scoreboard. Your feedback is welcome!

Linkback: https://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=5650.0

Offline kothmann

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Re: Alternative Rules for The Robbers
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2022, 11:15:19 AM »
Congratulations on your first post, @dunsany!  Very timely for me, because I have just acquired the Robbers (in C1 art) and though we liked it more than some other users, I have been looking for variants.  I like your idea.  Overall +1 merit from me!

Have you play-tested the idea?  A lot of times ideas that I think will work totally fall apart when I actually try them out.  This one looks good to me, but I'm just curious if you've tried it...

Other questions / clarifications:
  • It looks like the robber bag symbol is always on a field, so, the robber meeple will be on a field.  In that case, I don't understand the meaning of "No more than one robber can be placed on a feature", since no robbers are on features other than fields.  Am I misunderstanding?  Do you mean one robber in a given field?!
  • I think the idea here is that the robber will rob the first completed road or city when the score for that road or city counts the tile on which the robber stands?
  • I think the scoring intention is clear but just to confirm: if a city is worth 10 points and two players share control, but there are two robbers, then each player will get 5 points and each robber will also get 5 points?  It might be good to add a couple of simple examples to the rules document.
  • This is a very powerful robber!  If a player has a large city that is only one city cap away from completion, a player who draws a city-cap robber tile can get half the points in a single turn!?  Wow.  I might like to see the robber placed on the robber symbol on one turn, and then on a subsequent turn, if the player doesn't "move wood" (e.g. place a meeple), they may move the robber onto an incomplete feature on the same tile (even if that feature is occupied).  That way, you have to commit to a specific feature before it is completed and you can't steal points on the same turn that you place the tile.  I suppose you could just add that as a rule (can't score on turn robber is placed), similar to the rules for the Castle from Expansion #8.

I'll try to play this sometime and let you know how it goes.  I am also considering these, which you might find interesting:

Messengers & Robbers.  This one also puts the robbers on the landscape as meeples.  I don't have messengers, so I'll have to improvise...

Rule variant of the Robber.  This one is a more minor variant.

Again, welcome to the Forum!

Offline dunsany

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Re: Alternative Rules for The Robbers
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2022, 11:45:19 AM »
Thanks for your feedback @kothman. I have to say I still prefer the C1 art, so I appreciate your choice.

I have play-tested the tiles with the base set and it worked well, easy to implement and with sufficient choice in how to play to give some tactical input to the game. The robbers were mostly played on road tiles, and the options were to either ignore the robber and complete the road to get the meeple back, or to extend the road without completing it, sacrificing he meeple but gaining all the points at the end of the game and preventing the robber from being recycled.

I have not play-tested with the Inns and Cathedrals expansion, but I expect the interaction of the robbers with the inns would enhance the game play.

In response to your questions:

1. The robber is placed on the bag symbol for two reasons; to distinguish it from other meeples, and to show it is active for all the qualifying features (roads and cities) on that tile. In practice, there are only two tiles with more than one feature (one with a city and a road, and one with three roads at a junction) and until it is scored, the robber counts as being on all these features. Although the bag symbol is in the field, fields don't qualify.

2. Yes, that is correct. The robber will score for the first completed feature (road or city which includes the tile on which the robber stands.

3. Again, you are correct. Some further examples; if the city was worth 11 points rather than 10 the players will get 6 points for their meeples and 6 points for their robbers. Note that this means a player will get 12 points rather than 11 points if the player scores with both a meeple and a robber.

4. I haven't come across this scenario you describe but, in that situation, I agree the robber could score a lot of points. I think it is no more likely than, say, being able to put a cloister into a space surrounded by 7 or 8 tiles and gaining points that way but I guess the feeling of losing points to someone else's good fortune isn't the same. I don't think there is a ready countermove and the best you can do might be to mitigate the loss by not completing the city. If you find this is a real problem, I would suggest replacing the city robber tiles with alternatives showing just roads (I think these are still available individually through spielmaterial.de).

I'll check out the your alternatives as well to see what these offer.

Thanks again, and good luck with your gaming!
« Last Edit: January 06, 2022, 12:11:42 PM by dunsany, Reason: Incomplete text »

Offline kothmann

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Re: Alternative Rules for The Robbers
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2022, 12:53:44 PM »
I have play-tested the tiles with the base set and it worked well, easy to implement and with sufficient choice in how to play to give some tactical input to the game....I have not play-tested with the Inns and Cathedrals expansion, but I expect the interaction of the robbers with the inns would enhance the game play.
This all sounds good!  Ultimately the only thing that matters is that the rules are fun, whatever that means to each group that plays!

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I'll check out the your alternatives as well to see what these offer.
I self-play tested my alternative in a "3-player" game with an eclectic mix of 72 tiles, including the 8 robber tiles and 6 Inns from Exp1, as well as various other tiles from some expansions and base game, but other than this variant, only base game rules.  I stopped about 2/3 of the way through, with most of the Robbers and Inns already played.  Here is a photo at the stopping point:



There was only 1 successful robbery: the 6-tile completed city in the center of the board was robbed from the tile on the West side of the city.  In every other case, the original meeple was able to complete the feature before the robbing player took the time to join a feature.  This might have been coincidence--it's hard to draw conclusions from a single play-test.  But it felt like the loss of a chance to place a meeple was more than I wanted to "spend" to get a robber into a feature that would only give me half the points for that feature.  Better to try to glom on with a regular meeple and get all the points!  So, I think my variant is a fail.   ::)

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If you find [the overly powerful Robber to be] a real problem, I would suggest replacing the city robber tiles with alternatives showing just roads.
It felt to me like road robbers are really fighting over too few points to be interesting unless the roads have Inns, in which case the unfinished option doesn't work.

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I don't think there is a ready countermove and the best you can do might be to mitigate the loss by not completing the city.
This is interesting!  What if a Robber can't score points if they complete the feature themselves?!  With that rule, you could eliminate the "one move" steal, and the player who owns the feature can choose to leave it unfinished.  In a 3-player game, a player who is not involved in the conflict might choose to finish a regular road, because that way each opponent only gets 1/2 the points, rather than one opponent getting all the points?!

Or how about a really bizarre system:  ???
--if the robber completes a feature, he loses the element of surprise and can't score for it, and the regular meeple(s) gets all the points as usual.
--if a player who will score points for the feature completes the feature, then the regular meeple(s) score half and the robber scores half--the robbery was a success.
--if a player who won't score anything for the feature completes the feature, he has disrupted a robbery, but the points that would have gone to the robber are lost, so the regular meeple(s) in the feature still get only half, but the robber gets nothing!
Yes, this sounds intriguing.  Probably won't work at all, but hmm....

Sorry, my thing on the Forum is to riff on other people's ideas, and they almost always respond with something like, "have fun with that" and keep their original, simpler, clearer, perfectly fun rules.  But sometimes the discussion sparks further innovation, so take all this for what you will.   >:D

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Thanks again, and good luck with your gaming!
Thank YOU for posting and good luck to you too!

Offline dunsany

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Re: Alternative Rules for The Robbers
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2022, 09:34:41 AM »
No need to apologise for posting, it keeps the forum going.

On point you touched on when describing your play test is something I've struggled with - when is it better to play a special character instead of a regular meeple? In my case it was when playing the abbots mini-expansion and I came to the conclusions below:

- it's almost always better to play an abbot rather than a regular meeple on cloisters as well as on gardens

- the abbot needs to be removed when it scores 5+ to keep it available for future scoring opportunities

I haven't yet come to any conclusions with the robbers, but in a three-player base game I think that a score of 90-100 pts should be enough to win. Averaging this across the 7 regular meeples means that each would need to contribute 13-14 pts. So if you find you are getting 15+ pts per game from your robber, then what you are doing is more effective than placing a regular meeple.

While I suspect this reasoning is flawed, it does give me a target to aim at.  Scoring 15 pts would require robbing 3-5 roads or small cities - maybe you need more than 8 tiles?

In the end, you are quite right in saying that the only thing that matters is that the rules work for you and your group!


Offline kothmann

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Re: Alternative Rules for The Robbers
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2022, 10:18:56 AM »
No need to apologise for posting...
Thanks.  My idea was definitely half-baked.  I'm now thinking that the robber should only get points if they complete the feature, rather than the other way around?  I had a couple of other crazy ideas, too and may launch a separate post if they pan out.  The problem of making a huge score on the turn that you place is difficult for me, and I think is obviously why this mini has only one city-cap tile.  I like the result of the Castle rules, but find the sequence and wording ("on a subsequent turn") awkward.

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So if you find you are getting 15+ pts per game from your robber, then what you are doing is more effective than placing a regular meeple. While I suspect this reasoning is flawed, it does give me a target to aim at.  Scoring 15 pts would require robbing 3-5 roads or small cities - maybe you need more than 8 tiles?
This is interesting.  The Abbot is unusual (and for me uninteresting, so we don't use it), because the tactics are so simple and clear, as you explain.

For the more general case, I like your reasoning, as a high-level approximation.  I fell deep into the rabbit hole of "how many points is a meeple worth" last year:
https://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=5228.msg77118#msg77118
I don't think I reached any good answers based on this head-scratching, but I have played a meeple auction variant a few times and found it to be fun.

For the robber, I think a player has to use situational reasoning: will they get more points from whatever wood is placed on this turn by placing the robber or by placing a meeple?  If you get a city robber tile and there is a huge city that is nearly complete and you can connect to, then of course you should almost always place the robber.  I think you should also do this for a valuable road+Inn.  But otherwise, probably don't bother.

I don't think you want more than 8 tiles, because that starts to really change the game.  If you want to see what it is like, I would suggest using the 8 Hills tiles as if they were robbers, because they have a good mix of features with Hills in fields.

Cheers.


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