The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Posts Tagged ‘Pandante

A bit more Space Empire, and a game day

I played a few more games of Space Empires solitaire, and I enjoy it. I’ve tweaked the system to feel slightly more intelligent and smooth out the bumps, the APs get less resources, but also tend to waste less (by fighting hopeless battles) and their growth is ‘on board’ which means it can be trimmed down. While TaoLing was at camp I left the board setup and managed to get in a half-dozen games … most of which were full evening affairs.

Now that TaoLing is back I took a day off to run back-to-school errands in the morning and we had a game day in the afternoon. A fair number of Puzzle Strike games (getting close to 50!), a few games of Dominion, some Mottainai, some Splendor, and even a bit of Pandante. (I think I’m going to take Pandante to my poker night this weekend and play a few hands — not for money — to see if there’s any interest).

In other news, I’ve realized that I’m not playing most of my collection, even though I’ve trimmed it down fairly aggressively this decade. So, more games are marked ‘for trade’. I may hold a geeklist auction later this year, but I’m open to trades/sales whenever. I did just break down and  buy the Brittania expansion of Sansa at Channukah.  So I knocked that off my “want in trade list.”

I suspect game days with the Taoling are going to slowly drift into memory — they may never end entirely, but the teenage years wait for no parent. I’ve been watching the Solitaire Games on Your Table threads for ideas as to which games I may try next…at least, until the Mage Knight urge rises.

Written by taogaming

August 18, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Sad Pandas — Pandante 2.0

Thanks to A____ R____ (a nobleman of most refined tastes) I have been made aware of the new Pandante rules and Kickstarter for Pandante 2.0 / Expansion. However, having read the proposed updates I must admit I am a sad panda. Presumably 2.0 adds something, but let’s look at the rules changes.

The breakfast step has been removed  — A minor change, but I thought being able to keep your hand, and when to buy was interesting.

The ante is now 3 gold instead of 1 gold (but you can fold on the first betting round) — Already Pandante was somewhat no-fold-em (I tended to fold more than most, in the local game), the bigger pots will make it more so.

Floosh and full house swapped positions in hand rank — Calculating the odds of getting a hand (ignoring snacks) did indicate that they were in the right position before. (And believe me, doing those calculations was tricky). But in my initial notes on Pandante Strategy (unpublished), I note that two pair is the kiss of death. It’s a very inflexible hand. So, I agree with the rationale that a busted Floosh may often salvage something but a busted full house is probably toast, so I do not mind this change (assuming I had corrected mats).

Somewhat streamlined kicker and challenge rules — I am ambivalent.

The Joker wins the full pot, but hands with joker’s lose ties — Strongly against. The joker was a mixed blessing, usually beneficial but also forcing some caution on abilities and sometimes with hand declaration (to try to win without having to reveal the joker). I’ve thrown the joker away and been right. The current joker is still not always better than other cards, but it’s not nearly as interesting.

Abilities can no longer be challenged and are no longer tied to suits — Pandas do drugs? This is simply bad.

Not having read the full list of new abilities, perhaps the new game is amazing. But let me be clear. The abilities (and challenging thereof) are Pandante’s heart. I’m not sure how long my strategy notes would be if I finished them[1], but they would be much, much shorter with 2.0 rules.

  • You can make money by suckering people with abilities, even if you lose the hand.
  • Linking abilities to suits means there are 15 different combinations of the 7-2 offsuit (ignoring which suit is high) (+ six combinations of 7-2 suited). They are all phenomenally different. And the values of suits change based on position. 7-2 Red/Green is good[2] in under the gun, and mediocre on the button. 7-2 Orange/X is terrible early, mediocre in the middle, and reasonable on the button.
  • They are modifying or eliminating Black (Greed). Greed was good. Greed was right. Greed works. Greed makes some borderline hands playable and also induces folding in others. The blue/black interaction is a fascinating subgame, as the distinguished gentleman above noted.
  • On a related note, the Panda Lords are also changed for one ability, which means that the suits are all indistinguishable. Ugh.
  • I fully understand that this is the slow part of the game. That’s because this is the interesting part. The lying and challenging. Snacks selection is basically a mathematical game (with some assumption setting).

Finally, the challenge rules are such that multiple people challenge (simultaneously) only one gets paid. Again, no.

It may very well be that the new game is still interesting, or even more interesting. However, these rules do not inspire confidence.

[1] So far around 8-10k words.

[1] I mean, as 7-2 hands go.

Written by taogaming

March 12, 2015 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Reviews

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The horror of lucking into the Straight Flush

Just had my opponent call luck when the board shows 5-9 red, I’d called bravery playfulness, gotten called, shown both and then playfulnessed into the flush (via 6-7). The dealer calls luck and draws the 8 red, giving me the straight flush. Now I have to call the straight flush, because if I just claim the floosh or flush I’m lying, and I can get called out and lose the hand (and have to pay) because I have a better hand then I claimed.

So I have to call the straight flush. Since I know my opponent doesn’t have a floosh (which I definitely had after the luck), my raise has to be real. Doesn’t it?

But what if I didn’t have the 6 red? Could I realistically call the straight flush just to bluff a panda lord and give up a pot? I don’t think so.

Still, I got called, so what do I know?

I also got called on a floosh I had revealed (because they called my abilities to prove I had the card) because “I might have thrown away the Floosh with playfullness to get a Panda Lord.”

Pandante — Not only are jokers sometimes bad, but you can lose money when you hit your straight flushes and can consider breaking up made hands.

Written by taogaming

September 13, 2014 at 10:57 am

Posted in Session Reports

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Some more Pandante

I started to work out some odds (If you start with a pair, the odds of flopping at least a set are 23%)[1], but it doesn’t matter much because you never pay to see the flop.

Of more practical interest is how the game works with higher numbers. We’ve actually seen some folding on the turn and river (I rather like the terms they have for those, splash/paws/tail, but I’ll stick with general poker terms). After all, sticking around with the 5th best hand or so is not free. I also see hopelessness ability calls which lets you cycle your hand once for free and then again if it misses.

As a non-gambling game, there is some weirdness as people do ‘end of game’ stuff. I think it may be better (as a game) to raise the winning score (which is roughly someone doubling-tripling up based on number of players) and make it a freezeout tournament. That has player elimination, but we have 20-30 people at gaming, so no big deal.

Taught this three times yesterday. I’m officially proselytizing.

[1] (1 minus ((54 choose 3) / (59 choose 3)) ) (In English, take the number of possible three card flops from the remainder of the deck that do not have any of the 5 matching cards (4 + joker), divide by all possible 3 card flops. That’s the odds of a flop without a set, so then subtract it from one).

Written by taogaming

August 31, 2014 at 9:26 am

Posted in Specific Games

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Courtesy of a Mr. A____ R____ I heard good things about Pandánte. The fact that Sirlin’s new card game makes a good cash game caught my attention, so I picked up a copy. Initial testing (with the Taoling) indicates that the gentleman’s opinion was not mistaken.

The rules aren’t difficult. This really is Texas Hold’Em mixed with Coup, and a bit of “Dragon Poker” special effects. As always, small changes have organic consequences.
There are three rounds of betting with fixed bet amounts. You either bet or fold. The first round of betting is post-flop, and you can’t fold until the turn (or river). The twist — your bet also declares your minimum hand type. You can never lower your bet, so why bet high? The reason is that after the flop (and turn), players can drawing a card and then discard it or replace one of their original hole cards.
This is never bad, since at worst you’ve seen one card. But only the player(s) who claimed the best hand get this option (called “Snacks”) for free. The rest pay $2 for each level difference between their hand and the claimed best. (A pair is level 1, a straight flush is level 10). Two pair isn’t a level, so if you have that you can safely claim a pair (level 1), but maybe you want to claim a full house (level 4) to jack up the price for everyone who just claimed a pair. After all, if other players can replace their cards, they may get a Floosh (4 card flush — Level 5) or Flush. [The deck has 6 suits, flushes are rarer that normal poker, hence higher than full house].
But if you do this you may miss your Full House, Floosh, or whatever. Once you get past the river then each hand can use their hole cards special abilities (or any special abilities, by claiming to have them as hole cards) and then bet again (to raise their hand type).
At that point, If you have the highest hand players can challenge or not. If anyone challenges and you don’t have the hand you claimed; you fold. (And any challenge for high hand, or having cards in abilities, results in a direct side payment between challenged and challenger).
Let me quote an example hand posted by the Gentleman on a mailing list (this example assumes $1 ante).
So, let’s take a typical 4-player hand:
One player buy new cards ($2), everybody antes and bets first round ($12)
$2 goes in for draw-1-discard-1 option, one person folds, rest bets ($6)
$2 goes in for draw-1-discard-1 option, all bet ($6)
Orange/Green (Hand improvement) Abilities are called, a player successfully calls bluff (no pot effect).
Red Ability is used (all other players fold or add $5), 1 player folds, other player adds $5 to pot
Black (stealing) ability is used (no pot effect).
One player adds $2 to the pot to increase his final hand declaration.  He now is claiming the highest hand.
One player calls his bluff, and is correct, the player did not have the declared hand (no pot effect).
There is only one player remaining, he takes down the pot.

As the example implies if the highest hand gets challenged and was bluffing, then the next highest hand gets a shot. But only active (un-folded) players can call a bluff, so if everything else gets challenged away the lowest hand wins automatically, without having to reveal. Clever.

Now, the side bets. There are two types — if you claim an ability, everyone can challenge. If you were bluffing you pay each challenger $5 and can’t use your power. If you had the cards, you reveal the suit(s) of your card(s), challengers pay you $5, and you take the actions. For the full hand, if you are challenged and bluffing, you pay each challenger $5 and don’t reveal your hand. If you were telling the truth, each challenger pays you $5 per player that started the hand.
So a double bluff can take down a huge amount if you can convince everyone to challenge you. (In the extreme case, for a six player game, where everyone thinks you are bluffing, that’s $150 + the pot).
Just to make it more dangerous. If you win before the showdown (or during it, when you could have been challenged) and were bluffing you can grab a special ability (“Panda Lord”) to use in the next hand(s). So is that massive hand call out of nowhere a bluff to get the pot and a the panda lord (maybe risking a few extra $5 bets), or a sucker player to try to get a bunch of big payouts?
Combine all of this and you can imagine that while Hold ’em has bluffs and setup plays, Pandánte is filthy with them. For example, I can claim a Red/Black hand for abilities, and then claim a flush (which requires me to have say, Red/Red). Or I can claim a red/red ability, get called on it pay out $5 per challenger then claim a flush requiring Red/Red. If people challenge me on it and I have it, now they’d have to pay me $10-30 each (depending on how many players started the hand), and I’d only have to pay $5 a challenger if I’m bluffing. So did I actually have Red/Red and paid that off to set up the obvious challenge?
That’s just one example, the rules make Pandánte an action game:
  • Being forced to play at least to the river means that terrible hands can hit.
  • If you don’t win, you can keep your hand (unless you successfully stole money with a special ability). Since some suits protect you, others build pots, do you keep? But your opponents may have gotten a read on you. Changing hands isn’t free (except for the winner, which it is free and mandatory)
  • Snacks provide more information, and let you shape your hand. Sometimes you split a pair to go for a straight (or rainbow straight) or floosh. These decisions can be tricky.
And then there’s the joker.
Let’s face it, in poker the joker is a terrible idea. When I heard Pandánte had one, I was skeptical. But despite being an immensely powerful card, it has drawbacks. First and foremost, you can use the joker as any suit, which means you can use all the abilities. But if you reveal it, nobody has to pay a side bet for being wrong. And that applies during a showdown AND you only get half the pot. So if you flash the joker during the ability phase, everyone knows its a free challenge.
In what other poker game would you ever consider throwing away a joker mid-hand.
Even playing Heads up with the Taoling revealed interesting decisions every hand.
  • Folding early with nothing?
  • Do you split your hole card pair for a flush draw?
  • How high should I push my declared value to force others to pay more for snacks? Should I (after abilities) raise my bet to go first?
  • Sometimes you don’t want to have the highest (declared) hand, particularly if you didn’t make. And then you definitely don’t want to flash the joker, as everyone will challenge you and get paid out for your bluff.
  • Do I keep my (losing) hand or chuck it for a fee?
  • How do I string people into calling my (made) hand?
  • If I have a tie (for a floosh, say) what exact value do I declare for my hand? (Remember, hands are challenged in order).
  • When should I push a bluff hard to win a Panda Lord?

Remember, all bets (and side bets) are fixed, so you don’t bluff by throwing lots of money at it, you think (and act) correctly. This isn’t No Limit Hold’em “all in” bludgeon. Pandante is fought with rapiers.

Written by taogaming

August 23, 2014 at 9:36 am

Posted in Poker, Reviews

Tagged with ,

A little panda told me good things

Open thread — Pandánte. I saw a post on DIGgers that intrigued me, so after reading reviews I’m now soliciting opinions. Good, Bad, Indifferent?

Written by taogaming

August 13, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Posted in Open Thread

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