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The Decisionless Rondel

6 replies [Last post]
Joined: 12/18/2008

I'm thinking about how a decisionless rondel might work as a mechanic. I'm envisioning a rondel with a single marker on it. On your turn, you advance the marker one space and perform the action on the space - or get the benefit from the space. Of course, there might be other actions you might take on your turn apart from the rondel.

Obviously, the number of spaces on the rondel could not be evenly divisible by any number of players that the game will support.

Why no decisions? If no player can choose how many spaces to advance the marker - then it will be possible for each player to see exactly what benefits he will get for as many turns into the future as he is capable of pondering. It would be possible to contemplate the upcoming sequence of benefits each other player will get as well. To me, this seems to facilitate strategy. It's about the look-ahead.

I think for this to work it would be very important to ensure that all spaces on the rondel are precisely balanced. Each player will start out with a difference sequence of benefits. We can't immediately give an advantage to any one player right at the beginning (unless the spaces and the order of spaces are intentionally imbalanced to compensate for initial turn order advantage... that would be very clever.)

Taking the decisions out of the rondel simply means decisions will happen elsewhere. If a player's entire turn comes from the rondel space, then decisions must come into play when deciding how to use or allocate the rondel benefit. If the rondel benefits cannot involve decisions, then the turn must have some other part to it where decisions are made - most likely "free" actions of some sort.

It seems the effect of a conventional rondel is to tell a player "here are your choices... and here will be your choices on your next turn." The decisionless rondel would tell a player "here will be your benefits each turn, for all turns into the future, and here is that same information for all the other players as well."

Thoughts? Criticisms? Ideas?

Joined: 12/22/2010
Very thinky

This mechanic would be split in my gaming group.

There are some in my gaming group who would love to see a path for the rest of the game and try to maximize. They relish in the fact that have to twist their minds around the next 10 turns and optimize each one of the moves.

However, I'm slightly different. I like planning a few moves ahead, but not twenty.

For instance, I personally prefer a game like Snow Tails, where you can plan out your hand, but might need to make tactical changes as new cards come or players interfere.

However, I know people who would prefer Bolide, which gives you nearly perfect information and you can almost plan your car for the entire race.

The decision-less rondel? It would be great for some, but just too much for others.

Also, depending on what the mechanic is used for, I could see a "everybody following a similar strategy" problem, since everybody would be taking the same set of actions in the same order.

Joined: 01/17/2011
Player interactions

If you ensure that the number of spaces on the rondel is a prime larger than the maximum number of players, you'd be safe.

I think the mechanic could work nicely if some (or most) of the actions involve choices regarding other players. That would maximise the player interactions. E.g.:
- Choose another player to receive 2 points
- Choose another player to give you 2 points

You could also throw in some actions which alter the turn sequence, just to mess with the people who have planned 20 turns ahead. E.g.:
- Choose to either receive 2 points or move the marker ahead 2 spaces
- Choose to move the marker ahead between 1 and 3 spaces
- You may choose to skip the next player; if you do so they receive 2 points

Hope that helps,

dnddmdb's picture
Joined: 01/06/2009
Thumbs up, Kos

I definitely agree with Kos. You need some way to change up the rondel space to ruin plans or there will be a lot of brain-burning and downtime.

Cool idea, anyways.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
I think you missed something

scottbalmes wrote:
Also, depending on what the mechanic is used for, I could see a "everybody following a similar strategy" problem, since everybody would be taking the same set of actions in the same order.

I think maybe you missed a key ingredient from the original post - that there's only ONE marker. So everybody CAN'T follow a similar strategy, by definition.

I think you're picturing 1 marker per player (like a Mac Gerdts Rondel), but only moving 1 space on it each time. THEN each player would have the same actions every time. This may not be terrible, and it's the same as 1 marker, moving once, then EVERYBODY taking the associated action:

Turn 1: Let's all Settle
Turn 2: Now let's all Build
Turn 3: Let's all Mayor

Puerto Rico is like that, only the role choices aren't locked into a particular order on a rondel, rather you choose which you want each turn.

I wonder how it would go if you locked the order of the roles in Puerto Rico, actually... That could be interesting!

Joined: 04/18/2009
It do not sound liek a game

It do not sound liek a game at all to me. Why have the rondel if the players can not manipulat what they get. If you just move one space forward is no difrent then leting the players move it by themself. This way the exact result of every turn can be calculated in advance by the player. If the player can move it freely then atleast the have the difrent options to ponder.

I say skipp the rondel and give each player a set of cards, each turn the player picks a card and that is his benefit that turn. When all cards are used he refreshes his hand. This way the player knows al benefits he will get but he can deside the order he will get it. And unlike the normal rondel here he can not optimice and use onle a fue actions. You can even put in some bad cards in there aswell. Just to mix things up a litle.

SiddGames's picture
Joined: 08/02/2008
Opening Moves?

If the player has no decision on his actions, then the 5 player game has exactly 5 lists of actions. In a given game, you (as a player) will get Path 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5. Path 1 is the same every game, Path 2 is the same every game, etc. People will "solve" for each path the optimal set of moves.

Now, you intend to introduce other decisions, but the fact is that the 5 player game (for example) has 5 start positions and known lists of actions, and people WILL optimize for that. Some positions will be found (or at least perceived) to be better or worse than others. Using the Puerto Rico reference, Settler/Quarry IS the best opening move; fortunately, the path of that game diverges rather quickly after the first turn. In your decision-less rondel, the path cannot diverge because it is the same every time. (Fixing the role order as Seth suggests would suck a lot of the skill out of PR, I think.) If you try to get around that by changing the actual start positions, then you would only make balancing the fixed paths that much more difficult.

Why even use or call it a rondel? You could just print a player's sequence of actions on their boards; if you get board 3, then your sequence of actions for the game would be ABADCBAD etc. Even adding other decisions to the game, I'm not sure I would enjoy being handed a card that said, Here is the exact order you will execute actions this game. It feels too rigid to me.

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