# How much math is too much?

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Anonymous

How much arithmetic is it reasonable to expect players to do in a game. The answer certainly depends on how often players are ask to do the arithmetic - math is more okay in a once a game event like final scoring than in an event that occurs every turn.

I think this a good topic for general deiscussion, but I'll throw out a specific example based on an early draft of an idea I'm playing with:

On each turn, the players plays a cards valued from one to three into one of two piles. After playing a card, I want players to find the sum in each pile, then multiply the sums and add or remove cards based on the product. The products would never get larger than 36 or so. Is that too much math to do every turn?

Jay

ycyclop
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Joined: 11/12/2008
How much math is too much?

Hi Jay,
I personally think that the answer really depends on audience of the game. I saw a war game were the amount of counter tracking was unbearable for me, were as heavy war gamers didn’t mind.
As you said it also depends on the number of times it has to be done in a game.
In the example you gave it does not seem too much math but it appears from what you said that every card played would need calculations. If the play is mostly card playing then it is too much math.
Sometimes your goal can be achieved with simpler methods. Since you didn’t specify when are cards are removed or added I can just give an example of what I mean. If you are looking if the final result is odd/even number then the whole math is redundant. If it is checked for a total then maybe considering working with cards value 0-2 (if it does not effect the mechanism) Since smaller numbers are easier especially where you can ignore the ‘0’ card
-- ycyclop

Fos
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How much math is too much?

I'm not the most objective person to answer this question (in one of my current projects I've been trying to convince myself the math is necessary... without playtesting it), but I'm pretty sure about this: addition is easier for players to track quickly than multiplication. Lots of games require lots of addition on the fly (THACO, for instance, or zaiga's Gheos, from what I've heard), and it can be fine if you aren't shooting for a one-in-a-million Hasbro contract.

As ycyclop already mentioned, if this game is beyond the "I have a cool mechanic" phase, you might want to look at the reasoning behind wanting to remove cards based on the cards' product and see if there's an easier way to go about it.

Math and speed are almost always inversely proportional, and if you want a quick game (all the rage these days), you have to play that line carefully. Too much math and you'll spend days trying to figure out the best strategy. Too little, and your game won't be deep enough to hold interest with some players. Fine line, but as ycyclop said, it really depends on the audience (you, for instance).

Anonymous
How much math is too much?

The -only- pitfall I see, assuming your audience can multiply up to 6x6, is that the cards must be counted from piles.

Is there an easier way of knowing the number of cards in each pile at a glance?

IngredientX
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Joined: 07/26/2008
How much math is too much?

Right now, knowing nothing about your game other than what you've posted, I'd say it might work. Instead of playing in piles, you may want players to lay the cards down end-to-end in the form of two columns, so that addition can be performed more easily. But the math doesn't seem too brutal, especially if a player will have to consider possible scoring in his head before playing his card.

I second ycyclop's suggestion of having the cards go from 0-2. If you don't like the possibility of a column of 0 cards negating the value of the other column, you could replace the 0 with an asterisk, and say they're of "no value," and if one column is made up just of those cards, the other column is scored alone.

Funny... all this reminds me of a Lost Cities haiku on BoardGameGeek, courtesy of John Di Ponio...

Quote:
What to build

Good luck!

Verseboy
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How much math is too much?

The math doesn't sound difficult in this example, but without actually seeing it in the context of play, my gut reaction is it's too much, too often. I think it would dilute the pleasurable part of the game experience, much like a huge dollop of sour cream on a burrito.

If IngredientX can quote John Di Ponio, I can quote Pete Townshend: "Too much of anything is too much for me."

That's my take. Again, this is without benefit of having the game in front of me to try.

Steve

Sebastian
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Re: How much math is too much?

quarks wrote:

On each turn, the players plays a cards valued from one to three into one of two piles. After playing a card, I want players to find the sum in each pile, then multiply the sums and add or remove cards based on the product. The products would never get larger than 36 or so. Is that too much math to do every turn?

It depends what the game is trying to do. Certainly, by the sounds of it, you're eliminating pretty much any strategy related to what's in the piles, because reading more than a couple of moves in advance would become difficult. This means that what remains in the piles should not be that important. So if it's a tactical game in which you're trying to capture cards based on the multiplication, for example, then that would be fine.