Talk:Middleman

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Re the board: have you tried this on a Volcano board?

No. I came up with the board while randomly folding my Checkerboard Bandana one day, and I thought it was really an interesting shape, so I decided to make a game that would use it. I like the way it limits movement, and I just don't think it would work as well on a Volcano board. But if you feel like trying it, let me know how it works out.

Re the rules: the whole three-covered-pieces thing is pretty much the definition of fiddly. If you're going to have a coercive rule like this, why not make it a much easier to understand rule like "no more than 6 pieces in a stack"?

I'll admit, that's my least favorite rule in the game, but I think it's easier to play than it is to explain. I did consider something more like what you suggest, but at the time I designed the game, the only pyramids I had were made out of paper. I'm sure this is less of an issue with the translucent plastic pieces, but it's really a pain to be constantly picking up stacks to make sure nothing's hiding underneath them. Once you understand what it's saying, my rule is really a whole lot simpler: If you can't see it, you don't count it.
It may be true that this rule is easier to play than to explain, but games have to be explained before they can be played, unless you want to let the game spread entirely by people watching other people play. I would try a five-or-six-stacked maximum and see how it plays.

Re "a note on cool play": you can't make a degenerate strategy go away by calling it uncool. The whole "playing cool" schtick was brought about by Icehouse's sport-like nature and the fact that the rules could not reasonably be made to account for it. I think your rules could be made to account for the "uncool" strategy you outline here.

If you can think of a rule that would prevent this line of play, without dictating "You must move in such-and-such a way before such-and-such a point in the game"--which I wouldn't want to do, I don't like rules like that--I'd be glad to hear it. Frankly, I don't really think it's something that needs a rule to cover, and maybe it doesn't even need the note. But it did come up in one of my playtests, and it really killed the dynamic, so I wanted to say something. I look at it as something akin to the "scholar's mate" in chess--no, there's nothing in the rules against it, but the game isn't going to be much fun to anyone involved, and it isn't going to win you any friends.
Scholar's Mate takes two, though - the loser has to leave him/herself open to it. As such, it's a consequence of bad play, not a degenerate strategy. And no, "thinking of a rule" will not prevent this way of playing, as this way of playing is an emergent one - that is, it arises from the other rules. I wish I could say I had an idea as to how to tweak things to change it, but that's going to take more thought. (Got one: the combination of "mediums move one space only" and "larges can't cross the center line of the board." Coercive, but something to think about.)
At any rate, I appreciate your feedback. Oh, and sorry for using a naughty word in my rules. I figured it was one of the less-naughty naughty words around, but I guess an "Ahem" was not unwarranted. I'll go wash my mouth out with soap now. Squidd 19:34, 23 Jul 2005 (GMT)
The site has no official policy on dirty words. I don't mind in moderation if no one complains. - misuba 00:50, 10 Aug 2005 (GMT)

Update 2010

Somebody (wasn't me, was it you?) added this to BGG a few days ago, and I found out by suddenly having a Game Designer badge I wasn't expecting. Looking at the rules again after nearly five years made me cringe, so I cleaned them up a bit and finally tweaked the things I was too stubborn to do anything about back then.

It was probably pointless, though -- I consider this game a victim of the Treehouse Revolution. It was designed from the outset to be a two-stash game, and I could never come up with a good way to rework it as 2HOUSE instead. And I certainly wouldn't tell anyone to buy five Treehouse sets so they can play it as written.

Ah well. Maybe I can get a Geeklist out of that, at least.

Squidd 18:07, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Game play report 2011

This game was rewritten in 2010. As we don’t have a “best improved” Ice Award, Scott and I decided to play out the game in the spirit of an annual report of sorts. Neither one of use had played the original, but I think we both had fun trying it out. I like the cramped board and the quick game play (it is a very defensive game, where an endgame suddenly plays itself out quickly). While I'd play it again, I had some minor issues with the rules, as follows.

We played that 2 and 3 pip pieces could move up to two spaces, but not over other pieces (since the rules specifically stated that 1 pips “can” move over other pieces, it seemed to imply that the others couldn’t do so). This is not specifically stated, but seems in the spirit of the game and this aspect played well.

“A small is considered unreleased if it has not moved from its starting space and is underneath an opposing medium. If you have more unreleased smalls than your opponent, and there are at least two pieces he could move that would release one of them, you can require him to do so on his turn.”

The confusion with the above paragraph is the “at least two pieces part.” We interpreted that to mean that there had to be at least two pieces on a small (since you can move anyone’s piece, all that mattered was the number of pieces on a small). In this case, the other player would have to take one of them off of the top (of any of the piles of unreleased pieces of her choosing), making it easier for you to get to the bottom piece in a turn or two. If there is only one piece on a given 1 pip, it is considered unreleased for the sake of counting who has the most unreleased pieces, but its nest is not one that requires a move itself. In any case, that part could be rewritten for better clarity.