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What is the purpose of delayed game openings?

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

In many classic card games, and Rummy-kub, there is the idea of delayed openings. The concept is simple, you cannot start playing cards/tiles normally at the start of the game. You need to accumulate a certain number of points or other condition by yourself, then reveal the cards to prove that you do have the minimum points required.Afterwards, you can play the game normally and exchange cards with other players.

Some similar games, like Mah-Jong do not have that opening mechanism. You can grab opponent tiles right from the start, and doing so reveal the set you are assembling.

So why do those openings exists? Some reasons I found so far:

  • Bluffing: If there is bluffing required in the game, keeping your cards closed for a certain amount of time could help.
  • Availability of cards: If people need to wait before opening, there will be more cards on the table to play with.

I have a Rummy-kub style game in progress and one issue I have is that the games takes a lot of time before being completed. I am wondering if increasing the requirements to open the game could put more cards in play and end the game quicker once everybody is open.

Maybe reducing or increasing the number of tiles could help too.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Cumulative effects

First, see if your game has a benefit from a delayed opening.
- Will the delay add to the fun?
- Does it really speed up the total time?
- And if so, what about handling: Would there be more handling needed, which is down time?


Reasons I can think of are in the RTS genre.
A delay can be fun, since a player can sort things out in the base build up. Scouting the opponent will help here. Albeit, a boardgame has less of guessing than a card game.
A bigger army can also seal the deal more quickly after defeating the opponent.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Eliminate Advantage

The most-recent experience I've had with a game that required delayed openings is Corsairs. It was fairly clear that were there not delayed openings, the first-player advantage would be quite immense. It seems to me like this is a side-effect of how the game is designed and/or intended to be played.

Having delayed openings gives players the opportunity to see all the options available to them - such as cards drawn for their own hand - as well as all the options available to everyone else - such as cards dealt open on the table.

In some cases, the first turn/round of a game can be seen as the last part of the game setup. At least, that's what it feels like.

Joined: 01/27/2017
What is delayed?

A lot of games use a trick or two to keep players from locking horns in the first round when game-balance issues may be at their worst. Could be to tame first-mover advantage, or give players a moment to surveil things before full-scale battle.

Abstract games less chess and checkers do this with empty space between the armies. Card games do this by letting you bring out a limited number of cards per turn. War games often stage the armies so fighting starts with skirmishes rather than epic battles. And so on.

Explicit delays seem artificial and game-y, but closing distance or ramping up can seem more organic. You can also require some simple achievement before one can attack. Try to make it sound natural under your theme.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
An ability to ALTER the turn-order

In "Monster Keep" (MK) I have a Tactic which is "First Player to Activate this Ability goes FIRST in the NEXT Round".

It's a PASSIVE ability, meaning it gets triggered as SOON as it is revealed.

And if BOTH player choose to play this Monster (with its Tactic), the FIRST one to be revealed goes FIRST for the NEXT Round. Of course another Monster may be played in a later round which can RESTORE the turn-order, etc.

In any event, I have a Tactic that ALLOWS a player to ALTER the Turn-Order.

I have found this is a sufficiently good enough method to make the Turn-Order just a bit more "flexible".


larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
I just remembered that in a

I just remembered that in a Rummy style game I played, players draw and discard a card each turn instead of Rummy-Kub where player draw and accumulate cards each turn. Discard cards goes to the center for pickup in a stack. When you pick a card you also draw the top of the stack (like computer stack). So the further you dig in, the more cards you get.

In that situation, waiting can improve the quality and mobility of your meld while having a look at the discarded cards for more meld option. In that situation, it should make the game easier to complete but mostly less dependent on luck.

I am just not sure if I allow players who did not open yet to draw from the center pile. Opening gives access to meld manipulation for sure.

A better idea, I could force people to draw from the center pile to open, increasing the number of cards in your hands. So now it's just not a matter of luck and drawing the right cards to open. It's also evaluating the risk of taking a certain amount of cards from the table. Could be worth exploring.

I might want to take a look at other rummy game variations for ideas.

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