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× WELCOME TO TRASHDOME!

This is part of a series of bloody matches to the death. Show support for your favorite game so it will do better in the fight. You can support it by writing why you think its the better game and more importantly by betting (i.e. voting for) it. Please make it clear for when I check the bets later. You have until Friday when I tally the bets and declare the winner. I will reserve my bet for any tie-breakers.

Although you should be familiar with both games, there is no rule that says you have to have played both of them. The only rule in Trashdome is this;

Two games enter! One game leaves!

Trashdome: Hidden Trackable Information - Open vs Closed

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23 Nov 2022 09:20 #336963 by Ah_Pook
Through The Ages civil card hands are definitely open, anything other than that I just go with whatever the rules say.

Except for Guild of Merchant Explorers, where they want you to use single sided coins to secretly track your score in a game that goes to 150-200... There's literally no player interaction in that game, we ain't doing that. It adds so much annoying messing around making change and finding the right single sided denominations etc for completely no reason.
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23 Nov 2022 09:36 #336964 by Shellhead
Closed is more interesting because of the uncertainty:

"Uh uh. I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you've gotta ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?"
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23 Nov 2022 10:57 #336967 by RobertB
Open, unless the rules explicitly say Closed (a'la Sons of Anarchy). Ex: Eclipse combat point chits are specified to be face down in the rules, and by the rules nobody but you should see your chit pull.

I will make the argument that if it isn't a memory game such as Dawn Under or Chicken Cha Cha, or a card game like Bridge, Spades, or Gin Rummy, you should be permitted to take notes if someone insists it's closed and knowing the count exactly makes you feel better. I'm not being sarcastic; I play games like that by the seat of the pants but someone else might be AP about it.
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23 Nov 2022 11:14 - 23 Nov 2022 11:28 #336968 by sornars
One my favourite rules is in Dune; only the Atreides player is allowed to take notes. It's also a really tedious rule; in my one game of Dune the Atreides player stopped taking notes halfway through and they were using a custom app to do so. It may have been a case where they were unsure of how to leverage their knowledge but it also seemed like a lot to keep track of.

I just thought of another fun example; Block Wargames use hidden information to simulate fog of war. When playing Sekigahara online, Yucata tracked information that I would only have a vague memory of (e.g. you last saw this block in this stack and the stack hasn't moved so you can guarantee that block is still in the stack). Playing this game open would be silly but would you remind an opponent of what they'd previously seen in the stack if they asked?
Last edit: 23 Nov 2022 11:28 by sornars.
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23 Nov 2022 13:27 #336973 by Smeagol
Back when Settlers of Catan was about the only option for euro games we had (we had that, robo rally, and medici as I recall) my group started playing with our cards face up in front of us.

We played this way for a long long time because a couple of players in our group just couldn't keep track that a particular resource hadn't been rolled in a dozen turns and nobody had any. It's cute at first when somebody asks for wood when the entire table except them knows there hasnt been wood in what feels like ages, but it got old.

So we started playing with cards faceup as an experiment and while it does change the power of certain cards, we had a lot of fun with it and our Settlers games started having a new dynamic. "Trade me that wood, you have five !" "Stop being the Sheep -miser! you asswhipe" stuf like that.

A couple of times people who didn't know what we were doing saw us play and were very "What on earth are you guys doing and why?!?!?!?!"
And yeah we played cards face up so we never had to hear, anybody got wood when there was no chance of wood, ever again. Eventually we moved to other games as gaming exploded with options.

I also had issues playing Games with my wife and kids, I'm a mathemtician and card counter type, they are muggles who like lighter games, and often I just couldnt help but remember things that would irritate Mrs. Smeagol. So I learned to not play games where memory/memorisation were a big factor with that crowd.

I'm not a total buzzkill though I can play hidden information games just fine and don't ruin them, although I think what's important is people are on the same page. I try to not flex on my tracking abilities, it usually has been unwelcome. But I had a friend recently recite the cards that were in my metal suitcase at the end of a game of the Godfather with great accuracy. I don't think he was tracking the entire game, but he certainly tracked me. That was not a fun feeling, I had not played that way by choice.

Rambling aside my vote is for open.
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23 Nov 2022 19:29 #336982 by Jackwraith

sornars wrote: I just thought of another fun example; Block Wargames use hidden information to simulate fog of war. When playing Sekigahara online, Yucata tracked information that I would only have a vague memory of (e.g. you last saw this block in this stack and the stack hasn't moved so you can guarantee that block is still in the stack). Playing this game open would be silly but would you remind an opponent of what they'd previously seen in the stack if they asked?


But, see, that's the whole point. Part of the spirits of those games is not only simulating the fog of war so that you don't know what's coming, but also simulating your ability to understand the battlefield and its conditions. Hey, my opponent just hit me with his French knights in Crusader Rex, but now he's moved blocks in and out of that same locale. Does he really value Jerusalem? Would he keep the knights there? Or would he move them into Acre because he might be able to bluff me into thinking that they're still in Jerusalem while he hammers me somewhere that I haven't built up a defense?

It's meant to simulate the skill (and, yes, it is a skill, Erik) of actual battlefield commanders. The more you play, the better you become at the game, just like any other endeavor. Giving your opponent battlefield intelligence in a game like that defeats the purpose of the game. Now, in other games, it's probably not as crucial. If an opponent was hemming and hawing about playing a particular card in Shamans, I might point out that someone already played the next-to-last green card last hand so he could clean up if he has it. I'm not talking about being ruthlessly competitive in every game. I rarely am these days. But I'm also not interested in obviating the purpose of the game in the first place. It's a game. Someone complaining about how they lost to hidden information should either be ready to play again or not bother playing in the first place.
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24 Nov 2022 00:44 #336985 by mc

Erik Twice wrote:
Either way, hidding elements is often a bandaid for serious design flaws. Take Smallworld. Given the choice between attacking two players, you should always gang on the leader. To avoid this, the designers tried to obscure the score using chits, but it doesn't work. Even if you don't know the exact score and can only "guess", you still should attack whoever you think who are winning. Hence, the game is still very much about bashing the leader, it's just that you may guess it wrong and attack the loser instead. That's even worse!


I think you're wrong about the design choice there. The design was not meant to obscure the leader so that people wouldn't bash the leader. The design choice was meant to obscure the leader so that there can be arguments about who it is, and potentially soft alliances and so on. I don't think it's a piece of outstanding design by any means, but if you know who the leader is, the game literally has about 2 decisions per player and practically plays itself. If you don't know, it at least gets a bit more interesting.

Now, yes, you CAN keep count, if you want. This ties into something else, which might explain why I don't fit into the two groups you describe exactly. It's not that I value memory as a skill. It's just I see it as something akin to having good spatial awareness or whatever, which is often useful in games. Or having gaming experience in general. Some might have it, some might not. The skills are never even at a table, whatever they actually are. So I don't get why that one is a bigger deal than any other. Memorisation might be boring to you, but card cycling and combo-ing is absolutely yawn worthy to me, it doesn't excite me whatsoever and I can barely bring myself to devote any energy to thinking about it. But more importantly, it's not that you're not supposed to memorise info. It's that personally I could not care less about taking that edge. It's a flipping board game I'm playing with some friends or my kids, not the world championship of chess or whatever. Worrying about a competitive edge like that - whether it's mine or someone elses - is just not part of why I game. And if it's part of why someone games, that's fine, I don't get it, but whatever; but turning my light, breezy, meaningless activity into "we need to make sure everyone can see all the info because otherwise someone might have a small advantage", that is a different activity to me and I probably won't bother to play again.
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24 Nov 2022 06:02 #336986 by Erik Twice

sornars wrote: Playing this game open would be silly but would you remind an opponent of what they'd previously seen in the stack if they asked?

It hasn't come up with Sekigahara, but I would remind them if they asked me to. That's what I usually do, if it's trackable, I have no issue showing it as often as you need to.

Jackwraith wrote: (and, yes, it is a skill, Erik)

I do think it's a skill, just a pointless one. Really, for me it's no different than telling colours apart, adding up numbers or picking up pieces from the board.

Do you enjoy Memory, Jackwraith? To me, it's a terrible game. And it's not because I can't play it well. I just find it unenjoyable and dumb, why make other games play more like it?

mc wrote: I think you're wrong about the design choice there. The design was not meant to obscure the leader so that people wouldn't bash the leader. The design choice was meant to obscure the leader so that there can be arguments about who it is, and potentially soft alliances and so on. I don't think it's a piece of outstanding design by any means, but if you know who the leader is, the game literally has about 2 decisions per player and practically plays itself. If you don't know, it at least gets a bit more interesting.

It's just what I was told. Either way, I didn't see any alliances or arguments back when I played it. Rather, I simply saw that the game clearly promoted attacking the leader, but hid the necessary information to do so. Hence, you attacked whoever you thought was winning and hoped for the best.

As I see it, I'm attacking the leader either way. But if the score is hidden, I might get it wrong and attack one of the weaker players instead. To me that's bad game design.

And if it's part of why someone games, that's fine, I don't get it, but whatever; but turning my light, breezy, meaningless activity into "we need to make sure everyone can see all the info because otherwise someone might have a small advantage", that is a different activity to me and I probably won't bother to play again.

It's funny because you are describing exactly how I feel about Memorization. Instead of having a fun activity, you introduce an element that makes it less fun, less breezy and harsher for everyone involved!
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24 Nov 2022 07:16 - 24 Nov 2022 07:39 #336987 by sornars

Jackwraith wrote: But, see, that's the whole point. Part of the spirits of those games is not only simulating the fog of war so that you don't know what's coming, but also simulating your ability to understand the battlefield and its conditions. Hey, my opponent just hit me with his French knights in Crusader Rex, but now he's moved blocks in and out of that same locale. Does he really value Jerusalem? Would he keep the knights there? Or would he move them into Acre because he might be able to bluff me into thinking that they're still in Jerusalem while he hammers me somewhere that I haven't built up a defense?

It's meant to simulate the skill (and, yes, it is a skill, Erik) of actual battlefield commanders. The more you play, the better you become at the game, just like any other endeavor. Giving your opponent battlefield intelligence in a game like that defeats the purpose of the game. Now, in other games, it's probably not as crucial. If an opponent was hemming and hawing about playing a particular card in Shamans, I might point out that someone already played the next-to-last green card last hand so he could clean up if he has it. I'm not talking about being ruthlessly competitive in every game. I rarely am these days. But I'm also not interested in obviating the purpose of the game in the first place. It's a game. Someone complaining about how they lost to hidden information should either be ready to play again or not bother playing in the first place.


For this example in particular, I feel like we're talking past each other slightly. Totally agree, fog of war including feints, bluffs and reading the players are inherent to the genre and removing them would be pointless but let me outline an example; I hope you're familiar with Sekigahara because it's the one I'm most familiar with.

Let's pretend you reveal a total of 7+ impact during a battle; 2x3 different impact blocks and a matching leader. That information is now public. As you're stacking the blocks away I ask you to clarify if the leader was the matching daimyo or if it was Ishida. The information is now closed. Would you refuse to answer? What if I instead asked which clan the blocks were from? Assuming you answer in the immediate aftermath, would that change if I'm about to go next and ask the same questions while selecting my card? What about if after I've played my card? What if I've since marched some troops on the opposite side of the map where this battle has little relevance? What if... ? At some point you might find the question irritating but I'm willing to bet you'd share the information at some point on that timeline. Where we draw the line is perhaps the point at which we differ. I don't see what offering that information to your opponent, at any point in the future, changes; not offering it merely encourages them to play with more focus which may be the intended outcome!

I assume Tokugawa was slightly more invested in his battles than I am and knew if he had faced 15000 or 10000 men last week. He also probably had a member of staff he could talk to who would remind him which clans were involved. He also, unlike me, probably had a mind like a trap. If the blocks in the stack have moved then asking you where they were would be improper and I wouldn't expect an answer (that's the more relevant skill being tested IMO) but answering a question about who was involved in a battle doesn't seem like it warps the game to the point of futility.

I completely respect incorporating the memory part in the game but I personally find being generous with information and testing strategies and tactics against one another more interesting rather than adding in memorisation to the mix. There are very few cases where I wouldn't offer an opponent previously known (and still knowable) information with the caveat that if I felt like they were time wasting I might pressure them to make a decision quickly or if too much time had passed to the point where I didn't remember the information accurately myself.

For what it's worth I have fairly negative sentiment on Twilight Struggle for the same reason. Playing well requires knowing the deck to a level that I find unenjoyable.
Last edit: 24 Nov 2022 07:39 by sornars.
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24 Nov 2022 09:42 #336988 by Jackwraith
Erik, I'm not particularly fond of Memory or games like it as a type, but I think, to sornars' point, we're kind of talking past each other in terms of degree of information available. Some people above were talking about playing a card game with revealed hands, whereas sornars is talking about reminding the opponent of which daimyo they just ran across in a battle, IF THEY ASK. Those are very different things. One is a considerate reminder. The other is changing the game. I think you're right that assuming that that kind of info is available even in the story of the game, likely because Tokugawa could easily have found a local farmer to tell him whose army had just passed that way, is totally fine. It doesn't alter the game to any significant extent. It's just a way to be relaxed with your opponent, which you should basically always be because you're playing a game (unless said game involves a large amount of money, like pro poker, which I don't suggest as a hobby...)

Your point about Twilight Struggle is also a salient one. An experienced player with knowledge of the deck has an enormous edge over an inexperienced player; even moreso than an experienced Go player where perfect information is available to both players. But I hope you're not suggesting that fundamentally altering the game (playing with an open hand, for example) is the way to make TS "better" because that fundamental change detracts from both the game mechanically AND the entire theme upon which it's based. TS is rooted in political game theory, where individual actions have a mathematical value that leads toward one conclusion or the other, not only in and of themselves, but a value based on the willingness to use them, knowing that the end result may be that BOTH players lose (e.g. nuclear war.) I can understand why you don't like that style of game, especially if you've had some bad experiences with someone who's played many more times, but that's what I was talking about above, where the solution might be to either just keep playing or to play something else. But, then again, if you've played TS with an open hand and the two of you had a good time, I'm not the person who should be telling you how to have fun.

So, if the premise of your original questions is: "Don't be a dick if your opponent asks a simple question about what just happened" then, yes, I'm all in favor. If the premise is that people should fundamentally alter their games on both a mechanical and thematic level because one or more players don't like uncertainty then, no, I'm not on board. And, yes, I love Sekigahara. It's one of the best block wargames ever made, completely aside from my attachment to the historical period. I'm staring wistfully at it as I type this, where it sits alongside my other block games that haven't been touched in years, since my regular opponent moved on to other things.
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24 Nov 2022 13:12 #336992 by Not Sure
"Do you think Memory is a good game?" is nonsense. "If you like comparing numbers to see who wins, why not just play War?" Pure reductio ad absurdum.

I stand by what I said above. You clearly don't value memory as a skill in games. I think it's important for many games, especially those with cards, trick-takers especially. To Dave's point above, if you go looking through the tricks to see if a card came out before instead of playing, you're wasting the table's time. Most of the game is inferring where cards are, and refining that knowledge. (and being wrong!)

It's okay to not like those games, but to reduce them to child's games based on an argument of "memory is like matching!" is bullshit even for Trashdome.

On the notion of Twilight Struggle, playing "open deck" rather than "open hand" gets more at the heart of the problem. The issue between players isn't "knowing what your opponent can do now" it's "knowing what can be done".

That's still not actually going to improve the game, because the novice will either read the deck when the game starts (which one could argue they should have done before beginning) or they won't and you'll be in the same state. Games with repeated events are always going to have that knowledge/study issue.
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24 Nov 2022 13:38 #336993 by Erik Twice

Jackwraith wrote: Erik, I'm not particularly fond of Memory or games like it as a type, but I think, to sornars' point, we're kind of talking past each other in terms of degree of information available.

Sorry, I might have contributed to the confusion with my examples.

For me hidden trackable information is simply information that you may not be able to see now but that you are completely aware of because you saw it before. For example:

- How many meeples went into the Castillo in El Grande
- Your hidden role in Werewolf
- The discard pile in Cosmic Encounter
- The last card I bought in Dominion
- The resources each player has in Catan
- The score in Samurai and Tigris & Euphrates
- Cards, blocks or tokens that have been revealed and haven't been mixed with others.

Not trackable information:

- Face down cards in Netrunner
- Your opponent's hand in most games
- The battle score tiles in Eclipse
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24 Nov 2022 14:24 #336995 by sornars
I think Smeagol's chaotic Catan variant may have thrown us all for a loop! For the purpose of this Trashdome hidden trackable information was intended to refer to information once public but now hidden.

We've since strayed into memory as a skill in gaming which is a related but technically separate discussion. Not Sure's framing of knowing what your opponent can do now and what your opponent can theoretically do is a good summary of my take on TS. I'm not willing to put in the study to get that good at TS but I have no doubt the game would reward me should I be willing to do so, same as chess or any number of high depth games.

Back on topic, trick taking games are the counter to my preference to Open which I hadn't previously considered. I enjoy trick taking games and playing with an open discard is not how I'd choose to play almost any of them. The game is in the fuzziness and using the combination of solid card play and intuition to run the table.
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24 Nov 2022 17:06 #336999 by Not Sure
There's something to be said for the point back on Page 1 about "quantity of information" being part of the fuzz for closed information.

There's a couple of standouts to me in Erik's list:
- The discard pile in Cosmic Encounter
- Scoring in Samurai or T+E

The first I'd consider "open", although subject to Dave's basic rule of "don't be that guy at the table". If you don't know if the 40 is in there, ok. Maybe even ask "hey did the 40 get played". Counting the 6s and 8s to see what's in the deck is right out. Grubbing through the discards to see if a Flare is in there I'd consider poor form too.

The Knizia scoring (I've never played Samurai so all T+E) is about the big scores outweighing the little ones. I know John is a blue-point generating machine, but did he get more red or more green? Which one counts? What about everyone else? The quantity overwhelms that for most people.

Going back to what I said about async, that's really hard to have any sense of over time, so T+E scores should be open there. I could see that argument for table play, but I still come down on the side of "hidden for fuzz".
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25 Nov 2022 11:42 #337012 by mtagge
If in a tournament play open. It prevents people from taking notes the whole game and slows things down.

My preference is generally for closed hands, but then again I am far better than most people in my group for counting fives (referring to counting blackjack hands). It's a reason why I win more than my 25% share of four player games. So I wouldn't object at all to the table's preferences at the start of the game.
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