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Thoughts on having some secret information

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MarkD1733
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So, in my game, players need to complete "missions" for lack of a better term...which let's say are done through a set collection mechanic. These missions are distributed amongst 5 locations (represented by decks of about 12 cards) along with with other cards (which could have beneficial or detrimental effects). You must search/investigate the decks to find the missions. If each player must complete 3 missions to progress the game, is there any benefit to giving the players a hand of 5 cards and then asking them to distribute these cards amongst the 5 piles to give them some information up front? The location decks would then get shuffled up individually before starting the game.

If anyone has played the game Stockpile, which is about investing with insider trading knowledge, you start with knowing some stock projection information about a single company. This gives you a little strategy to begin with. I like having that upfront knowledge. That said, I cannot say that this type of set up has any practical advantage over simply randomizing the location decks. It will take time

Jay103
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I think we'd need a lot more

I think we'd need a lot more information about the game to know.

Does it matter which mission is which? Can I choose which deck I'm drawing from freely? In other words, (a) is there information present on the mission card such that knowing its location is actually helpful, and (b) can I take advantage of that information?

For example, if I get to the point where I need one particular mission to win, and I'm the one who placed that mission, and I remember where I placed it (five things in five locations is not trivial to remember 30 minutes later), and I can then draw from the correct pile (and have a reasonable chance that an opponent hasn't already drawn it without my knowledge).. then sure.

larienna
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I wanted to use a similar

I wanted to use a similar idea in my steam punk eldritch express game. To prevent quaterbacking in a coop game, player would have hidden personnal mission they can try to accomplish instead of focusing on the game objective. They could also trade mission with other players who are more likely to accomplish it.

let-off studios
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Knowledge Impact, Victory

MarkD1733 wrote:
This gives you a little strategy to begin with. I like having that upfront knowledge. That said, I cannot say that this type of set up has any practical advantage over simply randomizing the location decks.
I'd suggest you consider each player having access to a single deck or location, shuffling their hand, then placing their hand at a single location instead of spread around. It seems to me that if their foreknowledge was spread all over the place, and then shuffled in with an unknown hand of cards, the extra knowledge won't be so useful.

Have you playtested this process at all with others? How have they felt about it? Do they actually feel like they have more knowledge (or at least just as much) as the rest of the players? Has it helped guide their decision-making process?

What happens if a player hasn't seen three or more mission cards in the space of a game? How can they advance towards any kind of victory? Is it ensured that the player will have access to the three mission cards they'll need to win?

Fri
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Draft?

As a variation on let off studios idea of players having their own deck, if you wanted to have even more information is to aquire the the cards via draft. Of course you van even tweak the drafting method allow players to know more or less info.

MarkD1733
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Good questions, studios. I

Good questions, larienna and studios. I have not playtested anything yet. Just wondering from your collective experiences if secret insider information is typically a good thing for a game. The missions do have information that is needed for progressing your game. And as I write this reply, it dawns on me that some information would want them to know, but there is also information I would not want them to know...namely how to complete the mission. That needs to be a surprise, or require some resource expenditure to learn it.

The players have access to all the decks, unless tremendously bad luck somehow prevents them from reaching a deck. I really cannot see that happening because they have powers that can mitigate the luck. They may, however, through luck, never get to find the cards they originally saw. Other players could simply get to them first, as they are not placed in any specific arrangement...the decks would be shuffled prior to starting the game. There is no requirement to get those specific cards, but my thought was that they would at least know where to find certain cards, because they would place them there, and that would allow for some strategy or help accelerate gameplay.

let-off studios
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Solid Info for Card-Counters

Fri wrote:
[...] if you wanted to have even more information is to aquire the the cards via draft. Of course you van even tweak the drafting method allow players to know more or less info.
Great point, Fri!

I'd generally support this, particularly so if a hand can make its way back round to a player before the drafting phase is complete. That way, savvy players will be able to determine if a certain card has been picked by others (which helps them feel smart and "in the know").

Drafting generally has a lot of strengths when you want to provide hidden/privileged information to players.

FrankM
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Reverse Draft?

Suppose each player gets a big hand of cards, and they can take turns putting those cards into the Five Piles? Fewer players means more cards in the hand.

There's no need to spread your cards evenly, but there would be some cap on how many total cards players can place in each. Unused cards play no role in the game at all (which means with luck a player can spike an event they'd have trouble handling). Then add the mandatory cards for each of the Five Piles, shuffle, and play the main game.

The primary concern here is that this feels to the players that the insider information is worth the hassle of a longer setup. To that end, I'd err on the side of a quick and simple mechanism.

let-off studios
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Tweaks to FrankM's Comments

FrankM wrote:
Suppose each player gets a big hand of cards, and they can take turns putting those cards into the Five Piles? Fewer players means more cards in the hand.

There's no need to spread your cards evenly, but there would be some cap on how many total cards players can place in each. Unused cards play no role in the game at all (which means with luck a player can spike an event they'd have trouble handling).

I can already visualize how a game can mechanically work out doing these sorts of things. Here's how I see it, with a few little modifications.

(my apologies if this is wandering too far afield from the original topic)

  • Players are dealt their own pile of cards, as evenly-as-possible between all players.
  • Players divide the cards they've received into "keep" and "drop" piles. Two instead of five. This is in an effort to reduce AP.
  • There's no cap on the number of cards permitted, but there must be a -minimum- # of cards in each pile (maybe like 3 or 5, something like that). Use a minimum instead of a maximum. This is in an effort to reduce the repeated counting required by requiring a maximum.
  • The "drop" cards are put in a pile of their own, and are either set aside or used as a draw pile.
  • All "keep" cards are shuffled together, and dealt out again as evenly as possible. Players draft as above from the hands they've been dealt.

Of course, this is completely devoid of theme. But it seems like an interesting start to a set-collection game with some prisoner's dilemma elements in it. Secret agendas can be added in somehow, providing the player some direction in how they'll be motivated to sort and then draft.

MarkD1733
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Thanks for all the great comments and ideas

I appreciate all the ideas and comments. I will let you know how it shakes out.

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