What makes a good game? [TUTORIAL and HINTS]

For all support and comments on the game "GrassGames' Hearts".
marekjoz
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What makes a good game? [TUTORIAL and HINTS]

Postby marekjoz » Dec 19, 2017

OK, so after almost every game, players say a sacred: "gg".... Actually not every game was good. I would rather say, that less than 10% of them were good. Why do players say this and it sometimes compels others to say that the game was good? In my opinion a good game requires that every player tries to do the best with his/her cards to arrive at the current score.

Of course, when you can't see other player's cards you cannot evaluate if his/her decision was right or not. However, during the round you can observe what there was and if the decision to drop queen of spades on a high player may be justified or not.

This post is directed especially to beginners or low ranked players who may not yet understanding what constitutes a good game. First of all you do not get credits here for being 2nd or 3rd. Only a win counts. For example: if the current game score is like 20/60/60/70, then all the other players should focus on increasing the score of the player having 20 points as this is the only chance that any of the other three have of winning. If any of the particular players does not do everything he/she can, to make the lowest player take the qs, but simply drops her at the very first occasion on any of the two high players, you cannot say, it was a good game.

There are more examples and simply there are many players here, who just do not care, cannot play and never want to learn. In such case, just please, do not force me to play with everyone, even if I know, that this game with a particular player could never be good. I want to play only good games and surprisingly it does not require high ranked players. It only requires a good will and include some thinking during playing.

I just do not want to play random games, where at the end maybe the score was even (like 84/89/90/104) but it was rather because of cummulative massive number of errors of every player during a play, than their skills and outcome of their fulfilled intentions.

So please, let me choose who I want to play and in which games I want to invest my time. It should be fun for everyone but since everyone has another definition of fun, it is obvious, that a funny and good game would be slightly different for everyone.
I accept this, but I also require you would accept my evaluation and definition of a good game and players I join and choose to participate in this game as well.

Regards
marek
Last edited by marekjoz on Dec 21, 2017, edited 1 time in total.

Butchdude
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Re: What makes a good game?

Postby Butchdude » Dec 19, 2017

Marek, I value highly your point of view. I think you are one of the best players here. I am grateful when you give me the opportunity to play a game with you and other excellent players. I suspect the reason many of us say "gg" after a game is merely to be polite even if we didn't enjoy it at all. Sometimes, I say nothing if that is the case.

I like what you say for beginners and players in general. Even many high ranked players dump the 'q' on whomever is convenient. You've tried to give me some valuable suggestions. Could you say more, please, about when to lead spades and when not to? And what if spades are the only safe cards a player has? Any other game suggestions you have that you're willing to share would be gratefully received by me and I suspect other players.

I enjoyed reading your piece and I think this type of writing can enhance the playing quality and enjoyment of many of us. Thank you. Butchdude

marekjoz
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Re: What makes a good game?

Postby marekjoz » Dec 20, 2017

1. Let others moon from time to time

Most of people play here an „Ask” type of game, instead of an „Old moon” type. It means, that after a moon, a player can decrease his/her score by 26 points, instead of increasing by 26 the score of all the others. As of course it is in most cases crucial here to stop a moon, sometimes - on the other hand - it makes more sense allowing a player to moon.

Let’s consider, there is a current score like 30/80/80/80. You are not low. You see another high player going for a moon. He already took a Queen. It means, that if you stop him, the score after this round would be in your most optimistic case like: 43/80/80/93 (low takes all the hearts, high takes only a Queen). In the next round you have a room of only 7 points to continue a game and a Queen for high finishes the game for good. Quite a dangerous situation. Low has a room of 37 points and can easily continue without any fear. How would it look like if you would have NOT stopped the moon? Now the score would be like 40/54/80/80. What is a better case from your point of view? There are two differences: there is more room to play until the finish of the game and low does not have so much space there for a free play. Now low (still at 40) has to fight against the second low (54), rather than focusing on any of the high players, because the second low is in a range of almost one Queen only (14 points). That’s why you should never stop a moon in such a case, but rather help the high to score it.

Always making a decision whether to stop a moon or not, just consider how would the score table look like, if you would have stopped the moon, and not. Choose a better option from your point of view. Look ahead. Stopping a moon is not a must. It is quite sad how many times we see the decision of stopping a moon, which could change the situation on a play field, and instead it makes only a faster agony. I was playing games, where the score was like 40/90/90/90 and low has never won the game if it was an „Ask” type of game. Never surrender, try to the end, unless you see, that the other players do not understand the principles of the game, and it just became clueless, to sit there just for nothing ;-)
Last edited by marekjoz on Dec 20, 2017, edited 1 time in total.

marekjoz
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Re: What makes a good game?

Postby marekjoz » Dec 20, 2017

2. Do not play spades to low

Let’s draw a playing table.

...........N
......W.......E
...........S

You are sitting at the „S” position (South). The score table:
E: 20
S: 50
N: 50
W: 50

You do not have a Queen of spades (QS), you do not know where she is. A few of possible scenarios:
1. E has a Queen
2. N or W has a Queen
3. N or W has a King of spades (KS) or Ace of spades (AS)
4. E has KS or AS

What happens when you lead a spade and one of the following scenarios occurs (considering the above):
A. 1 and 3
B. 2 and 4?

In a case „A”, E will just wait until N or W would be forced to drop the KS or AS and easily would drop his QS on it. It is more probable, that either N or W would be shorter in spades with a KS or AS, than E with his QS and corresponding amount of spades. It means, that in most cases, N or W will take the QS dropped by E on KS or AS forced to play.

In a case „B” E will just wait for this turn and drop KS or AS if no QS was dropped or any lower spade if QS was dropped. Anyway - E has avoided a danger.

Consider leading spades rather when you are already sure, that it won’t make more damage than would bring the profit.
The best position to lead spades would be in our case the „N” (North) position. Then „E” is forced to play KS or AS if he had one, and „W” and „S” can drop their AS and KS if possessed.
Last edited by marekjoz on Dec 20, 2017, edited 1 time in total.

marekjoz
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Re: What makes a good game?

Postby marekjoz » Dec 20, 2017

if you enjoy the tutorials, more to come:

1. Let others moon from time to time
2. Do not play spades to low

3. Let others lead a card
4. Pass reasonably
5. Try to play low
6. Count cards in suits
7. Do not try to moon all the time
8. Identify where the Queen is
9. Try to cheat your enemy
10. Do not play a suit, which low already hasn’t
11. Do not open hearts for low


All to make games more interesting, better and more enjoyable.
It is not the ranking important at the end of the day, but if the games were good or not....

marekjoz
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Re: What makes a good game?

Postby marekjoz » Dec 20, 2017

3. Let others lead a card

It happens often, that when you feel safe to drop a high card, you do it at the very first moment you can, to avoid taking QS on it later in the round. When you drop the highest card and take a lead, then you are safe with this card, but you now need to have an idea what to lead next.

You should however reconsider, if it is better to take a lead or leave it to a player, who would have taken the lead if you would not have dropped the highest card. Sometimes it is better to leave a lead to someone, who has spades left, to play them against the low. Or can play a low club against a higher one which the low is then forced to play.

Please, before dropping a high card at the safe moment, think what you would play next.
A round has its dynamics and rhythm. If your selfish temporary feelings cut off the communication with a player able to play valuable cards, then you all, as a team cannot achieve your goal.

Remember, that if in one round you will play the selfish way and because of your actions, another player would be harmed, then the same can wait for you in another round. The only player who gains on such play is the low.

marekjoz
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Re: What makes a good game?

Postby marekjoz » Dec 20, 2017

4. Pass reasonably

Of course you will pass cards, which you do not need.
Passing a heart is a good and simple protection against a moon. It is not a sure protection because the player, who receives your cards might have all the highest hearts already and your 8 of hearts made no difference. It is here in a good taste to pass at least one heart. Sometimes you cannot afford it and need later read not nice comments directed at you.

But it is not only about a heart passing. Here are a few examples of other smart passes, which you might not have considered yet:
- pass QS and two other spades to another high player. It increases the chances, that you will be able to catch low as the player with QS feeling more secure might be more resistant on dropping QS on just anybody and will cooperate more eager that usual. Finally - you also trusted him, that he won’t give you QS in a case, that you would receive a bare KS from the other player and had to play it in front of his possible QS
- pass friendly cards to a very high player, who would be more than welcome to moon, if succeeded. It could be three top cards in a suit (AH-QH), three high clubs, etc.
- get rid of all clubs. It can give you an opportunity to drop immediately AS or KS if passed, in case, when no clubs were passed too
- do not pass the highest hearts you have, if possible. It is good to keep a high heart to prevent a moon and not to complete a set of the highest hearts of a player passed
- avoid a clear message of a moon intention by passing low spade, or three low cards without any self explaining other reason
- if you have a set of QS and KS or QS and AS you can pass bare QS to player at your right. If you will remember that the QS is at your right side, you can safely drop KS or AS any time without fear that QS would fall on it

There are more rules, which you will discover in some time. Those above will help you at start.

Finally - remember what you have passed and remember what was passed to you. Get rid of cards passed to you as soon as possible. Watch if cards which you passed were already played or not. Make a use of this knowledge.
Last edited by marekjoz on Dec 21, 2017, edited 1 time in total.

Butchdude
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Re: What makes a good game?

Postby Butchdude » Dec 20, 2017

First of all, thank you Marek for taking the time to generously provide the information you gave to us. This game is certainly a lot more complicated than I understood. It helps explain why the players who are able to understand and incorporate your advice do so well at the game. I will have to read and study your tutorials and I hope I can improve my game.

I think this is the most valuable use of the forum space and may be an "eye-opener" for many of us.

Looking forward to your future tutorials. Regards, Butchdude

marekjoz
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Re: What makes a good game?

Postby marekjoz » Dec 21, 2017

5. Try to play low

A lot about it I have written in the first post of this topic. Playing low means to try to increase the score of the „low” player in order to make the scoring table as flat as possible.
A „low” is a player who leads in the current game - has the lowest score.
In this example player„E” is low:
E: 20
S: 50
N: 50
W: 50

What about here:
E: 20
S: 25
N: 50
W: 50

Well there are here a few conservative players, who would say that only „E” was low. It is however totally wrong in terms of the goal „playing low game”. It simply does not make any matter if „E” would gain by 13 or „S”, as it is still is a space to fill i order to reach other two players. In this case simply both „E” and „S” players are low and simply both should be treated as low. Risking that „N” or „W” would take a Queen by chasing „E” only is simply wrong.

What about the round after Queen was already given? Again - many players forget, that single hearts increase the score by 1 point and it is easily to pump the score of the high by a few points just by mechanic dropping cards. You should try to save the hearts in your hand for a low, giving to high other suits, which left in your hand. It is very very often, when a player is already safe and won’t take a single point but does not pay enough attention to follow the golden rule „to play low” until the end of the round.

Again - the reason and goal for playing low is to flatten the score board and it can be either achieved by increasing the score of „low” but as well by decreasing the score of „high”! Go and read again „Let others moon from time to time”.

Hearts is a team play. You will rarely win, if you would not cooperate with others. Remember to build trust and always play low.

marekjoz
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Re: What makes a good game? [TUTORIAL and HINTS]

Postby marekjoz » Dec 22, 2017

6. Count cards in suits

Unfortunately it is not only about the number of cards but also what particular cards left and who does not already have a particular suit.

The first thing everyone should learn here. Number of hearts dropped in a round is displayed in the right corner on a score table. So this is not something you need to count.

Spades are the first thing you need to learn how to count. Later diamonds and hearts.
First try to remember how many times a suit was played and irregularities in it, like when someone had not a card in a played suit and dropped something else.

Later you need to learn high cards. From ace to 10 it is mandatory to do it for every suit. Beside that there are some particular important key cards, which may play important role in every round. The one, which helps you catch the low, in example. Or moon. Or avoid taking the rest of the pool. Identify these cards and trace where they are. It helps much to avoid danger or realise a plan.

All the information gathered during a few cards are in most cases important at the end of the round, when only 3 or 4 cards everybody has and usually a Queen was not dropped yet.

After a round you need to erase the memory and restart the cards tracing process again. Good news is, that it may develop your brain and keep it in a good condition.


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