# How to have random counter placement at game setup

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MikeGravelle
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Joined: 01/01/2021

I'm working on a game that needs 6 'counters' per player to be distributed randomly across a board of hexagons.

Any suggestions about how to achieve that other than the rules saying 'distribute across the board until all players agree with the starting layout'? I think that might lead to arguments about positions giving one or other player and advantage so if prefer it was driven be a rule or mechanic.

It's early stages of this game design and I think it will be for 2-4 players so anything up to 24 counters to lay out.

Thank you

Michael

I Will Never Gr...
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Joined: 04/23/2015
Questions..

Up to 24 counters, but how many hexes on the board?
What do these counters achieve?
Are the counters placed face up (known) or face down (hidden)?

X3M
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Joined: 10/28/2013
Hexagon map

That fact alone could make this an easy task.

Dice version:

You can roll a die to determine the direction compared to the starting position of the player.
Then roll another die to determine the distance.

To make it fair. Simply have a list of distances to choose from.

If you rolled a direction or distance before, simply select the next one in the list.

For example in regards to the direction:
A player rolled 5 2 3 3 2 2.
But the directions order would be 5 2 3 4 6 1.
Then roll for a distance. The list could be: 1=8, 2=10, 3=12, 4=15, 5=18 and 6=24.

I don't know what distances you have in mind. But to make sure it has some fairness, there should be a list for every player.

If anything is in the way. Simply have that spot move away by 1, and another move closer by 1. Rinse and repear I guess.

To add a little bit more randomness. You could even have the player being relocated. Perhaps even the same way.

To some locations, it would be closer, to other locations further away. No matter how the player is moved. The effect will be 100% fair to all of the players.

Cards version:
This is even better.
Simply have 1 stack have the direction and the other stack the distance.
Shuffle and combine.

MikeGravelle
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Joined: 01/01/2021
Board size

Still testing board size but likely 20x20 hexes. Counters are face up and will represent sheep that need to be rounded up.

terzamossa
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Joined: 09/24/2020
would it make sense having an

would it make sense having an initial phase in which players take turns placing the counters?
You can swap the round order, so you go 1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1-1-2-3-4 or find other ways to balance the advantage of going first.
I don't know the rest of your game, there is a chance this can be a nice addition or it could make absolutely no sense thematically and be tedious.

Another option, that is used in several games (I don't recall how the principle is called) is that one player distributes the counters, and the other players choose their colours (it's usually done for 2 players, but would work with 4 if the person who distributes the counters chooses last).
This means that the person placing the counters will make effort to give everybody the same chances to win, as they will be the one left with the last choice!
Hope any of this helps,
Antonio

FrankM
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Joined: 01/27/2017
Landmarks

If there are landmarks on the hex map (bushes, flowers, etc.) then you can have cards or dice that relate to those. Have a one-yellow-flower hex, a two-yellow-flower hex, etc.

First die/card indicates the landmark type, second die/card picks which one.

While it distributes things randomly, it could take longer to set up than desired.

I Will Never Gr...
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Joined: 04/23/2015
Hmm.

MikeGravelle wrote:
Still testing board size but likely 20x20 hexes. Counters are face up and will represent sheep that need to be rounded up.

I would suggest some of what's been said above.

Players alternate, in reversing turn order (Player 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, etc), placing counters with conditions;

- May not place a counter within X hexes of your starting location
- May not place a counter within X hexes of the counter placed immediately before
- Must place counters within X hexes of Y landmark (if you have landmarks, such as fields, trees, rocks, etc).

Can you place multiple counters on a single hex? If so, is there a cap to the number of counters on a single hex?

Juzek
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Joined: 06/19/2017
I like the landmark idea. You

I like the landmark idea.
You are already randomizing tiles (I assume), so having a symbol on a number of tiles that means "put a sheep here"

You could make it thematic, like a tile with grass gets one sheep, a tile with grass and flowers gets two, or just add a little sheep image on it.

Alternatively:
I think you could trust people to be random in a light weight game. Azul has people randomly distribute tile pieces onto the circles, and doesn't have any particular method to enforce the randomness. I think heavier game players may try to influence things though.

InvisibleJon
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Joined: 07/27/2008

Here's a silly idea:

• Make the "6 sheep per player" part of each player's starting pieces (like their player mat or scoring pawn).
• During set up, have each player put their sheep in a bag.
• Add blank counters (identical shape/weight/feel to the sheep counters) to the bag so the # of counters in the bag = the number of hexes to fill.
• Starting on the upper-left tile and spiraling clockwise into the center, draw and place one counter per tile on the board. Immediately remove any tile that is isn't a sheep.
• The Good: Random, completely objective, relatively quick.
The Bad: Requires extra components (bag, blank tiles) – unless those components are already part of the game (in which case you're getting extra use out of them. Good deal!)
The Interesting: If you need (or want) to distribute additional resources (other than sheep), this is a good way to do it.

All that said: I also like the "landmarks" method.

FrankM
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Joined: 01/27/2017
Expensive but not useless

InvisibleJon wrote:
Here's a silly idea:

• Make the "6 sheep per player" part of each player's starting pieces (like their player mat or scoring pawn).
• During set up, have each player put their sheep in a bag.
• Add blank counters (identical shape/weight/feel to the sheep counters) to the bag so the # of counters in the bag = the number of hexes to fill.
• Starting on the upper-left tile and spiraling clockwise into the center, draw and place one counter per tile on the board. Immediately remove any tile that is isn't a sheep.
• The Good: Random, completely objective, relatively quick.
The Bad: Requires extra components (bag, blank tiles) – unless those components are already part of the game (in which case you're getting extra use out of them. Good deal!)
The Interesting: If you need (or want) to distribute additional resources (other than sheep), this is a good way to do it.

All that said: I also like the "landmarks" method.

Another way to do this is to include enough different player colors to completely fill the map, and just remove any sheep not belonging to a player’s color. It’s hard to come up with a huge number of distinct colors, but someone already did that work... check out Figure 2 of this paper. The first nine are colorblind-friendly.

For less strife: include an extra sheep, and each player gets to remove one immediately as sort of a mulligan on the hardest-to-get sheep.

For extra strife: distribute sheep first then choose colors :)

Fex_H
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Joined: 09/30/2018
If you want the counters to

If you want the counters to be truly random, you could roll two d20s and use their values as coordinates on the 20x20 grid to determine a single hex.

lewpuls
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Joined: 04/04/2009
Rolling in succession

OR, choose 36 hexes, number them 1-1 to 6-6; players roll two dice in succession to place each counter (reroll if there's already one there; or if the majority of the 36 will be occupied, occupy all and roll to see which ones are removed.

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
That's actually very clever!

lewpuls wrote:
OR, choose 36 hexes, number them 1-1 to 6-6; players roll two dice in succession to place each counter (reroll if there's already one there; or if the majority of the 36 will be occupied, occupy all and roll to see which ones are removed.

How do you balance between both methods? At 50% you're looking at re-rolling 50% of the time. That's already a bit excessive, no? But there is an alternative to dice: cards. A Deck of 36 cards with each one of the hexes as a readable number (1-1 to 6-6). As in your suggestion this will dramatically improve use-ability without any requiring of re-rolling.

It could even by a MINI-Deck (smaller cards just with the numbers).

But yeah, brilliant Lewis (@lewpuls)...

Jay103
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Joined: 01/23/2018
Fex_H wrote:If you want the

Fex_H wrote:
If you want the counters to be truly random, you could roll two d20s and use their values as coordinates on the 20x20 grid to determine a single hex.

That was my conclusion as well.

Or, if it makes sense for your design, the other suggestion about having players place counters, which could add to strategy, but if it's sheep being rounded up, that probably wouldn't work because if you placed your own, you'd place them in a clump, and if you placed another player's, you'd place them at the edges.

MikeGravelle
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Joined: 01/01/2021
Great feedback

Thank you all for your suggestions. I like the idea of preset patterns or players seeing out the sheep without knowing which herd they will be rounding up.

The dice options would work and I might try these but think they may take too long without adding anything to the game play.

Michael

postworld
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Joined: 08/02/2015
Cards

I think it should be cards or the player choose one by one and then switch order.

When you do it with cards, you could easily use less cards then places.
For example make it 6 Cards first row of every card is place 1-6 (one on card 1, two on card 2 ..), second row of card 1 is a seven, on card two its is an 8 and so on.

You only need 6 Cards for 36 places.

lewpuls
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Joined: 04/04/2009
Yes, cards better, but cost a

Yes, cards better, but cost a lot more than a pair of dice. Cost of manufacture is always important in commercial games.