The “No move” card, Prisoners and changing out the “Replace Any” card

In the last post we covered the effects of the “replace any” card and why we plan to remove it from the final game. In this post we’ll cover some of the new cards we’re thinking of trying. In addition to this though we also have issues that have come up in play testing: the biggest being the general groan when pulling a “no move” card.
The no move cards are 6 cards in the total deck and were added to spread out the powerful cards a little. This does cause players to be pretty disappointed though and it can even happen that a player ends up with two or even three “no move” cards in their hand. All around, it’s been fairly unsatisfying as a solution to having a sufficient quantity of cards, but not too much power in the card set.
So the question is: what to replace it with that isn’t itself too powerful but that adds non zero value to a player’s hand?
A third problem that arose is that – with the move to Chinese scoring, the prisoner exchange cards are not particularly meaningful anymore. How to replace those?

Replacing “Replace Any”

As described in the last post… replace any was powerful in a way which wasn’t ideal for the dynamics of the game. As a result we’re aiming to change it for another card which is also powerful but with a different effect which isn’t as disruptive. Brainstorming around this a couple of candidates surfaced:
  1.  Triple play: a simple extension of the “Pair Play” card which allows a player to play three stones together instead of just one or two. The stones must be touching but can be in any configuration. This can be a very powerful play (even killing groups with two or three liberties in some cases).
  2. Nudge Opponent: move an opponent’s stones by one place. This move has the danger it could still allow the destruction of eyes, so rules would need to specify that this is not allowed.

Replacing “No Move”

In this case, the problem is the opposite. We’re looking for cards that are relatively weak but do provide some advantage. There are two ways to do this: 1) creating cards which can be played in a lot of situations but have only a marginal effect, 2) creating cards which are relatively powerful but can’t be used in a lot of situations.
After sifting through the options, the second approach likely leads to a similar frustration as the “no move” card we’re replacing does: something which is useless much of the time. With the second approach though a few ideas bubbled up. The best of them so far have been:
  1. Re-roll: allow the player to roll the dice again if they didn’t like the range they got, or for a second shot at rolling a double.
  2. Game point (1, 2, 3): a card which provides a single point of territory count in the final game reckoning (though we already have some of these, the list could be expanded).
  3. Extend Range (1, 2, 3): allows you to play a move which is 1, 2 or 3 moves further than the dice roll would normally allow.
The latter two allow a range of different levels of power for the card.

Replacing “Prisoner exchange” cards

The last problem was how to deal with the prisoner exchange cards. The original objective of these cards was to provide an interesting mechanism to boost a player’s score at the end of the game. This made sense when Japanese Go scoring was being used to determine the winner of the game. With the change to Chinese scoring however (see here) this no longer makes much sense since Chinese Go scoring uses territory only and ignores prisoners.
As a result all these cards in the deck are effectively meaningless.
So far the proposed choices to replace them are:
  1.  Game point (1, 2, 3) cards: a card which provides a single point of territory count in the final game reckoning. This achieves a similar objectives and is a little similar to the type of victory point you have in games like 7 wonders.
  2. Slide 1 card: the ability to move an opponent’s stones in such a way as to change their formation, but not sufficiently to break an existing eye structure. This can often have the effect in the late game of reducing score.

New Cards

Given the choices, we’ve updated the new version of rules with new cards as follows. Feedback and new ideas welcome however – this is definitely a work in progress!!
  •  Replace-Any -> Triple Play
  •  No Move -> Extend 1 cards
  •  Prisoner exchange -> Extend 2 and 3 cards to reflect some more power.

This combination seemed to offer a nice balance between a still powerful card replacing Replace-any but not affecting existing structure and a relatively mild benefit from a card like “Extend”.

Thanks for reading!

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