Game No Thanks!

Played 20100203 Mark (56-12=44) Me (55-10=45) JuiEn (63-16=47) John (41-6=35). John won.
Played 20100203 John (34) JaiUng (37) Mark (37) Me (37) JuiEn (57). John won.
Played 20100203 [Info Variant] John (51-0=51) JaiUng (57-60=-3) Mark (21-7=14) Me (77-2=75) JuiEn (57-6=51). JaiUng won.
No Thanks!

Relevant Links:
No Thanks! (BoardGameGeek.com)

20100203:
Mark has played before, but JuiEn, John, and I have not. The third game was played with each player seeing 2 cards. As such, 10 cards, instead of 9, have been removed from the game.

IMPORTANT: Apparently the game rules says to play with the chips hidden. I would say this would drastically change the game. This would probably make the game better.

A variant that I would agree with is playing with points. This encourages players to place as best as they can, i.e., avoid the losing player's ability to choose a winner. So if there are n players then play n rounds. Perhaps rotating the starting player. Assign a 1 for first, 2 for second, 3 for third, and 4 for fourth. Lowest score after n rounds wins.

I wasn't a fan of the two cards information at the beginning of the game. The information would, in general, be useless. No one will take your bluffs seriously. In fact, your information is as useful as if you didn't see the cards. As such, the only benefit to seeing two cards, is to affect your decisions in picking up cards. But then, the luck of the game isn't equally distributed, and that takes away from the strategy.

This is, in fact, why the drafting variant of Race for the Galaxy, is more interesting than the regular game: this luck that happens at the beginning of the game is reduced, and more of the focus goes to playing a strategy.

Going back to hidden chips, there is a skill in remembering how many chips each person has, and in this case, bluffing is actually useful. This will also reduce the bargaining ability someone has, which is often a tactic that will too greatly reduce the general pool of chips. Overall, I find that this increases the strategy of the game. And an element of risk, not luck, when one decides to let a card make a round. Finally, the end game, is uncertain, and you cannot figure out what you should do by counting up the points.

And last, but not least, keep in mind, No Thanks! does best as a filler game. I find many Icehouse Games also serve this void, what do we do when waiting for people to arrive? Play a Icehouse Game. We just finished this long game, what should we do now? Play a Icehouse Game. No Thanks! would work in that situation. Scattergories: The Card Game would work in that situation. Minimal setup, quick, easy to learn. Technically, one can convert a regular deck of cards to one for No Thanks!; either physically or symbolically. Symbolically: 3 to 10 of spades represent 3 to 10, Ace, 2 to 10 of clubs represent 11 to 20, Ace, 2 to 10 of diamonds represent 21 to 30 and Ace, 2 to 5 of hearts represent 31 to 35. 11 chips per player are easy to come by. Race for the Galaxy VP chips, pennies, poker chips, Go pieces, Icehouse pieces, etc.

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