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Opinions on an arithmetic-based card game

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ACG
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Joined: 12/31/1969

Hi! I've just thought of a new game. It seems very simple, but the question is would people buy it.

The deck will have 100 cards in it: five of each digit 0-9, 25 +'s, and 25 -'s. The + can serve as x and the - can serve as /. There will also be a little counter which can display numbers -999 to 999. It starts out at 0 and is placed in the center of the table.

This would be a PARTNERSHIP GAME for four players. People would be seated at a bridge table: North-South and East-West. North and West would start out with operands, East and South would start out with digits. All players would start out with a hand of 10 digits or numbers.

The goal is to build a math expression on the table which evaluates to your target number. The target numbers are determined by rolling a d10 inside a d10 (you've seen those dice) to produce a number from 10 to 109. North-South's target is that number. East-West's target is that number plus one. The next time a target number is needed, East-West rolls the die and North-South's target is the value plus one.

Starting with the value of 0 shown on the counter, North plays an operand onto the developing expression -- anywhere: it can be an exponent, root, tacking it onto a number to make it bigger, sign change, base, whatever -- and announces the expression's value up to that point. Then East-West goes, adding a digit or an operand (- - is +!). And so forth. If one partner runs out of cards before the other, the partner with the cards is forced to go every turn.

All overall expression values must be integers between -999 and 999.

Once all 40 cards have been played, the expression on the table is considered "frozen". Its value is calculated and displayed on the little counter, placed in the center of the table. The cards are cleaned up -- you don't want things to get TOO complicated with too many cards on the table -- and put off to the side. That expression basically gets summarized with one number -- "what we've got so far" -- and the next round begins. Each player redraws 10 of the OTHER type of card, and East (the member of East-West who now has the operands) plays an operand and we keep on going.

Once these 40 cards have been played (there are 20 left), both decks of 50 cards are reshuffled (separately, of course). The current value is recalculated and 40 cards are dealt out again. North stays with the digits, South gets the operands. And the game keeps on going until someone gets an equation. Who gets what cards goes like this (star means goes first):

North East South West
Round 1 mod 4: *OP DIG DIG OP
Round 2 mod 4: DIG *OP OP DIG
Round 3 mod 4: DIG OP *OP DIG
Round 4 mod 4: OP DIG DIG *OP

What do you think? If 10 cards is too many for a hand (40 cards in an equation can be complicated), maybe we can shrink it to 6 per hand and reshuffle after four rounds (96 cards total).

Thanks in advance,

ACG

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Opinions on an arithmetic-based card game

My only comment is that People Hate Math, and this seems to be one of the most universal truths in games; the simpler you can make the math, the better. So, building an entire game around arithmetic is an idea that will probably need to be playtested extensively to find out if there's any appeal to the idea. My guess is that it could work quite well as a pedagogical aid in middle school math classes, so it definitely might have some potential with teachers and parents.

One game that you might look at that is superficially similar is "Relationship Tightrope", which is a trick taking game by R. Knizia in which players are trying to achieve perfect balance between positive and negative scores. It feels somewhat mathy, and it's only addition and subtraction. Still, might be a useful comparison.

-Jeff

Sen
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Joined: 12/20/2010
Opinions on an arithmetic-based card game

I would have to agree with the "PHM" sentiment, except that there should be a "M" in front as well (for "Most"). I, for one, like math.

The guy I design with isn't stupid, but he tends to get bogged down if there's too much math. He was never a wargamer or anything like that, so he likes his gaming to be fast, quick, and accessible.

If you can "stealth bomb" players into thinking that there's no math, or that the math is so simple, or that the math is worth doing to play such a great game, then it's ok. But blatant math where the numbers are not round can be a bit much for people, especially if the key mechanic of playing turn to turn is based on math. Or if people are expected to make critical judgement/decisions based on the ability to compute complex equations.

Take Knizia's Lost Cities for example. The game play is dead simple, which is why many people love the game. It is easy to learn, easy to teach, accessible, and simple fun. The scoring, however, can turn some people off. My wife, for example, loves playing, but will let me figure out the scoring, not because she can't, but because she finds it tedious.

Tedious <> fun. In the case of Lost Cities, it's only the end game scoring (i.e. it happens 1x after multiple turns) so it's not that unbearable. But if a game was constant calculating / recalculating, it'd get old fast to most people.

So yeah....MPHM

Xaqery
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Re: Opinions on an arithmetic-based card game

I agree that the game will have limited appeal but thats ok. If you sell 1 copy to each 10th grade math teacher you will do fine.

ACG wrote:
What do you think? If 10 cards is too many for a hand (40 cards in an equation can be complicated), maybe we can shrink it to 6 per hand and reshuffle after four rounds (96 cards total).

I have three ideas:

1 - I think you need to add more goals for the players to shoot for. Maybe hidden cards that will give me points if I make that number along the way.

2 - What if you could play a card on top of another card. Chaning a MULT too an ADD. Then the equation doesnt have to get so long.

3 - If I dont like my cards maybe I can draw new ones or remoe a card from the equation and discard it as an action. This leads to maybe a card length limit. Then the equation can stay on the table the whole time and just evolve / morph into new equations.

- Dwight

ACG
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Opinions on an arithmetic-based card game

Quote:

1 - I think you need to add more goals for the players to shoot for. Maybe hidden cards that will give me points if I make that number along the way.

That's an interesting thought. If someone manages to make 20, 50, 100, or something like that they could get bonus points. It would make sense to have those positions not hidden, though -- we've already got enough cards. I'm almost thinking cribbage: the limit is 31 but if you get 15's and stuff along the way it's good. The bonus numbers would likely have to be quite large as they should not overlap with the actual target.

Quote:

2 - What if you could play a card on top of another card. Chaning a MULT too an ADD. Then the equation doesnt have to get so long.

Excellent idea. I had been debating allowing rotation of played cards (+ to x, - to /, possibly even 9 to 6 but the last is too cheesy), but that would mess up the sequence of cards being played as one partnership would have more cards than another. What I could do would be: whenever you play a card, you replenish it from the appropriate deck and never run out of cards in your hand (when your reshuffle the deck, freeze what you've got).

Quote:

3 - If I dont like my cards maybe I can draw new ones or remoe a card from the equation and discard it as an action. This leads to maybe a card length limit. Then the equation can stay on the table the whole time and just evolve / morph into new equations.

Also a good idea. However, I would recommend that cards which are removed be forced into the hand of the person removing it, which in turn requires that there be a maximum hand size of 10/6. Note that if you remove an operand and East has the operands, it doesn't matter if West has 5 cards in his hand: if East has 10 he can't take it.

Drawing new cards would definitely be a good idea. You improve your hand, but you are allowing your opponents an unencumbered attack on the board. It's like trading in tiles in Scrabble.

Quote:

- Dwight

As far as the "people hate math" stuff goes, we could require that at most N operands be on the table at the time. That won't make it TOO complicated, and also keep in mind that all expressions must evaluate to integers.

So, here are the actions as I see them now. The equation gets reset back to the counter value if the pool of unused tiles runs out for any type.

1. Put down a card if you have one (board gets one card, hand loses one, pool gets zero cards)
2. Pick up a card if you have fewer than 10 in your hand (board loses one card, hand gets one, pool gets zero cards)
3. Trade in a card in your hand and replace it with a new one (board gets zero cards, hand gets one card, pool loses one card).
4. Rotate (operand only) or move a card provided that the new expression is still an integer in the allowed range (board gets zero cards, hand gets zero cards, pool gets zero cards).

The problem is that the fellow with the operands isn't going to gain much by swapping -- there's a 50% chance he'll pick the same thing he put back down. Then again, he's got more options as to what to do (for instance, he can do rotate operands).

If there were a way I could disguise all the math and use tokens of some sort that would make it a better seller, but I don't see how...

ACG

P.S. Something just occurred to me -- require that both partners play on the same turn without telling each other what they have. One provides an operand in a certain location, and the other provides the value. You can't make exponents all that easily though. But if you require binary operands all over the place, and the new digit must be associated with the new operand...that could introduce communication between partners. This would bring the "contract bridge" rule into effect -- partners cannot say anything to each other, and if they have a convention they must alert the opponents.

ACG
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Opinions on an arithmetic-based card game

The "put one card on top of another" rule will also be there -- I think that's brilliant. However, you can't replace a two digit number with a one digit number (unless you put a zero on the first digit next time around).

There may be restrictions as to what you can do. In Dicey Digits, my other math-based game where you have to make equations, I specifically prohibit a whole list cheesy ways people can get rid of, or simplify, numbers (multiplying by 1, adding 0, casting a number less than 11 into a new base, etc.). The only rule I can think of here would be that any operation in which the expression changes must change the value of the expression -- and multiplying by 0 is prohibited. I'm debating whether to allow leading zeroes (specifically prohibited among the cheesy hacks in Dicey Digits).

ACG

Infernal
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Opinions on an arithmetic-based card game

I have toyed with a math type game in the past too. I used the basic play of Apples ot Apples.

- Each player was dealt 10 cards (the had a number and opperand on them).
- One player would be the dealer and not participate in that round (each round the dealer would move to the next player).
- The dealer woudl turn over a goal card and the player's would attempt to reach that number by useing the cards that they have in their hand.
- The scoreing was: All player's achieveing the goal number would recieve 1 point. The player who achieved the goal number first would recieve an extra point. The players who achieved the goal number and had the longest sum (in cards) would recieve an extra point.

This game was designed to be played in groups of 4 or more and aimed at 10 yearolds and up.

Epigone
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Opinions on an arithmetic-based card game

Some hundreds of years ago there was a math game that apparently rivaled chess in popularity: Rithmomachy. External link reference number 4 gives the most complete version of the rules. This is extremely computation-intensive!

gamemaker-KD
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Joined: 12/31/1969
math can be fun

first things first, come up with catchy title, but don't use the word MATH at all. If you want to put it out yourself or get it published as soon as you say the word MATH 50% of whoever was listening will not listen anymore. Talk about the game play and the procedures, and how fun it can be to get to the goal. A couple of years ago my card game was named MATH PROCEDURES and when I said the title people looked at me like I had just Farted. I switched the name just so people would try it and now it's been out for one year now. Your game does sound interesting so I what to wish you luck with it. Don't forget play-test,play-test,play-test and you will be able to decide if you need those changes you mentioned.
KD

sedjtroll
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Opinions on an arithmetic-based card game

I toyed with an idea, based on something a friend said, about a rummy-style card game where instead of runs and sets, you use math equations. I forget the details. It involved playing valid equations, playing cards on other people's equations (which gets you points, but increases their score as well), and stuff like that.

Boy, I wish I remembered more about that one. I think it's written down somewhere.

- Seth

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