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Need help with a Tableau building game.

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irdesigns510's picture
Joined: 06/24/2009


Currently all the mechanics for a game I have made are done, except for one asset, a starting card.

The important bits of the play rules:
• A pawn moves around a rondel, and his positioning is affected by the cards players play to a line of cards on the table. Basically, during play, if your card is higher or lower than the last card, the pawn will move clockwise or counter-clockwise on the rondel.
• The color of the card you play will determine at what "color" your draft token will be placed, (there are 5 colors on the clockface.) Once all draft tokens are placed, the pawn moves color-by-color around the clock, effectively creating a draft order.
• Players draft from a different set of cards to add to their tableau, and the cards played from the previous round will become the new set of draftable cards.
• A second way to get cards to your tableau is to play a card to the line face down, in which you can snipe a face-up card from the line and add directly to your tableau.

Scoring works as such:
The player with the highest total value per color will score points based on how many cards from the neighboring colors on the rondel they have.
(example: if i have the highest total of green cards, i will SCORE my blue and yellow cards.)

My dilemma:
Basically, the starting card needs to be different from the rest of the deck, but able to make it to a tableau without being too powerful. The way cards move from the rest of the deck to tableaus, i need this 71st card mathematically.

Ideas I had come up with different "hot potato" abilities for this card:
1) Move this card from your tableau to the play line; take a card in your hand and play it to your own tableau.
2) Maybe a shoot the moon thing? The player who drafts the starting card needs to win NONE of the colors.
3) ??

Any help is appreciated.

Joined: 01/17/2011
Starting card

irdesigns510 wrote:
My dilemma:
Basically, the starting card needs to be different from the rest of the deck, but able to make it to a tableau without being too powerful. The way cards move from the rest of the deck to tableaus, i need this 71st card mathematically.

I'm unclear from the description of the rules so far why the starting card needs to be different to the others. In a 4-player game, are there 4 cards to be drafted? I'm not sure what the starting card is.

Just throwing ideas out there without understanding:
- Could the "starting card" be a penalty? If you are stuck with it at the end of the game it counts as -10 points.
- Could the "starting card" be a wild (counts as any color) but if you have it you are forced to play it?


irdesigns510's picture
Joined: 06/24/2009
Starting card

yeah, the number of cards drafted is related to player count. To explain better:

The line is where players will play their cards, and the starting card will be the first card in the line on the first round. The last card played to the line will be the next round's starting card.

The draftable cards (let's call it "the pool") is also related to the player count. The cards in the line will become the new pool on the next round, so the starting card will be in the pool on the second round.

The reason a starting card is needed, is that the deck itself, 5-suits 70cards, plays out perfectly (Deck is exhausted, and no cards left in hands), but only if a 71st card exists to start with. Other wise I end up being 1 card short of dealing cards to players on the final round.

It needs to be different because the 5-suits are all 14 cards, represented equally.

irdesigns510's picture
Joined: 06/24/2009
another option i could try

Another option i could try is that there is no starting card.

Normally players have 7 cards in hand, and each round play 2 and draw 1 (whittling down to zero cards during the game.)

The option I could try is players start with 6 cards, and go one less round.
(doing this would create a situation where players are creating a tableau of 10 cards rather than 12)
This wouldn't exhaust the deck, but would still exhaust hands.
Also, effectively, there would be enough cards left in the deck to have a starting card represented by a normal card in the deck.

I'm not sure of the math side of things as far as points and how "swingy" the absence of 2 cards from your tableau would be, but in a 5 player game, every player would be the first player one time, and that's pretty clean.

Joined: 02/05/2016
Sounds like an interesting puzzle...

but I think I need to hear more more about how it all fits together to offer a solution. Maybe post a slightly longer summary of the main mechanics?

irdesigns510's picture
Joined: 06/24/2009

This is what I have so far:
1) each player starts with 7 cards in hand. Cards have a color, a numerical value, and a point value.
2) a rondel with 5 sections (colors) is on the table, with a single pawn moving around it.
3) a card is drawn from the top of the deck as a starting card (the color where the pawn starts, as well as establishing the starting numerical value of the "line", a row of cards on the table.)
4) an amount of cards equal to 2x the number of players is placed face up in a draft "pool"
5) turn order for a round is snake style, with player order working like: 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1. And players have 2 tokens to mark their turn, as they will go twice.
6) starting with the first player, players play a card face-up, or face-down:
...face-up: place one of your tokens around the colored section of the rondel that matches the color of the card you played, and move the pawn clockwise if your card was higher in numerical value, or counter clockwise if it was lower.
...face-down: take one of the face-up cards in the line and put it directly into your scoring tableau.
(By the end of this step, all players will have played 2 cards)
7)after all players have played the round, the pawn starts from its current location on the rondel moving clockwise. Each player token the pawn passes, that player takes their token back, and gets to take one card from the draft pool and place it into their tableau.
8) once all tokens have been collected, discard undrafted cards, and move the cards played to the line to the draft pool. (Face down cards are turned face up)
9) at the end of the round, each player draws 1 card.
10) at the end of the game, (when players have no cards in hands) players will check, color by color, who has the highest numerical value of that color. That player will actually count the points listed on the neighboring colors instead of the points on that color.

With 70 cards, in a 5 player game, 7 cards in starting hands will through process of playing, end up with players having 12 cards their tableau, no cards in hands, and no cards in the deck (but only if there is a 71st "starting card").

i.e. Play 2, draw 1 will have 12 cards played total. Yes I understand that 12x5 is 60, so there should be 10 cards leftover, but step 8 shows that the ten leftover cards are already in play, and don't leave until the end of the round. I'm 1 card short, or else the final round will deal 4 cards to 5 players (this is thanks to step 3). I'd be looking for a 71st card, and it can't really be the same as the rest of the deck, because each color is identical. (Plus I have printing space for 2 additional cards, so I felt it was an opportunity to do something neat)


Joined: 10/04/2012
Occam's Razor

First, I'll admit it took me *waaaay* too long to understand where you were getting your numbers (it's not that complicated, I was just looking at it totally wrong). I think the most elegant solution might be to simply set the starting color as the color of the 10th (or 1st) card drawn for the original draft pool. This gives you start color, keeps your numbers even and eliminates the need for a special card.

That said, a couple ideas for the card if you use it:

  • Use it like the "chopsticks" card in Sushi-Go!. E.g., if it's in your tableau, on your turn you can place it into the draft pool and take two cards instead of one. It's worth 0 if it's in your tableau at the end of the game.
  • It's a wild card that only can be used on the color you have the least/most of.
  • It can be exchanged with a card in the tableau of the player to your right (or left)
  • You can place it over a card on another player's tableau (effectively making that card 0),
  • It doubles the value of a single card in your tableau
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