Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2-Player Zendo

Well here's just a mess.  I need me a Zendo fix, but mostly I play 2-player.  And are there any good 2-player variants?  It doesn't really appear so.

It was hard as heck to find Kory Heath's official variant.  And after finding it... I'm horribly unimpressed.  It basically boils down to:

Each player simultaneously plays the student and the master.  All Koans are marked twice.  The marking on your side is correspondent to your rule.  The first player to guess the other's rule is the winner.

Now that's just horrible from a game theory stand point.  Make the hardest rule you can imagine and win.  Zendo for me isn't about making the hardest rule possible.  Instead, it's about helping the Students have a good time and make those leaps of intuition.

Another variant posted on the forums is at least more promising:

Take turns being student/master.  Master secretly rolls 3d6.  Master chooses rule that should take student the number of Koans equal to the result of the roll.

If the student gets the rule in less Koans, they earn the difference.  If they fail then they earn nothing *and* the master loses 3 points.

So it seems good in some ways.  You will have varying difficulty rules.  The master has reason to try and hit the target.

I just think it breaks down when the student has already built around 10 Koans.  At that point, isn't it just safer to intentionally be wrong and give the master -3 points?

So, I shall try to formulate some new variant here.  And it might be harder than I think.

Let's start with the promising bit of the 2nd variant.  Take turns being master and have a target number of Koans = 3d6.  Then what do we want to have the scoring do:

1. The student should *always* want to guess the rule as quickly as possible.
2. The master should want the student to take exactly 3d6 koans.

The issue arises that for the student to want to guess quickly, their reward relative to the masters should always be declining.

But at the same time, if the master is always gaining in potential for a new Koan then they will always want the student to keep building new Koans indefinitely.

Gah, I've wasted 10 minutes coming up with ideas and failing.  I shall revisit this again later.  Unless someone out there has a brilliant breakthru!

1 comment:

  1. Did somebody say scoring system?

    A couple of things...

    1) Is the 3d6 roll open? Why not hide it from the student so that they don't know at what point to tank the answer?

    2) Can you give the student a penalty for not guessing as well, to keep them from tanking?

    3) Suppose the Student and the master were each going to split 3d6 points - and the more guesses it takes the student, the more points the master gets... start with all the points being the student's and for each incorrect guess or koan, 1 point moves over to the Master... therefore the student wants to get it in as few guesses as possible (but will obviously need to get some info somehow), and the Master wants the student to get it in as close to the roll as possible.

    I guess that leaves the issue with tanking after a certain point. Maybe if the solution isn't found at ALL, then it counts as 1 "Bad Omen," and after 3 Bad Omens, both players lose - or something like that.

    I think hiding the 3d6 roll would be a good start.

    - Seth


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