Sunday, August 27, 2006

I've just read (some of) a long discussion about "hidden but trackable information". is the last page.

This is information that is hidden in the game, but could be tracked by someone: card counting is an example of this tracking. Opinions about this vary widely, from "I always make this information not hidden" to "if some players are willing to track it and others are not, more power to them" to "it's unethical to track this hidden but trackable information".

The reason it interested me is the second edition of Britannia. All previous editions of Britannia use a scoresheet to track victory points, and anyone can look at the points anytime. Fantasy Flight clearly felt that players must never be required to write anything down. At first they were going to put a VP track on the board, but I suggested that over the course of a long game there was far too great a chance that the victory points would be mistracked, especially with dice flying around and the usual player clumsiness. So they chose to include victory point markers.

VP markers make the VP "hidden but trackable". Anyone can keep score the old way, and know exactly how many points the players have.

Now, part of the exercise of strategy in Britannia is knowing what scores nations "ought to" have on average, and recognizing where the deviations are. The scoresheet makes it easy to keep track of this, so that players can spend their time analyzing the deviations. The most successful players can use the scores to help them decide what to do. The players who aren't quite at the top level tend not to think as much about the scores, or don't know the "expected outcomes" as well.

To me, then, any player who wants to do everything he can to win, will get his own scoresheet and track the scores even when the VP markers are being used. It might be reasonable to agree before playing that players cannot write down scores, but some folks with good memories will track them anyway. I don't think you can force players NOT to track the scores. So practically speaking, I'd just keep the scoresheet, and use the VP markers to track things like Norse "touch points".

Casual players, on the other hand, may prefer the VP markers.

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