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Phase 10 aggravation - Karen's Musings
Random Rambling
estherchaya
estherchaya
Phase 10 aggravation
So here are the rules for Phase 10 and maybe you'll see what bugs me about it. It's fine in theory, I just think the execution is poor.

First, I'll say there are 108 cards in the deck. Cards are numbered 1-12. There are four colors. There are 8 of each number (2 of each color per number). There are 4 skip cards. There are 8 "wild" cards.

The object is to be the first player to complete all 10 phases.

Dealer deals 10 cards to each player (face down).
Rest of deck becomes a draw pile. Top card of draw pile is turned over next to draw pile. This is the discard pile.

So far, normal card game, eh?

Just like any rummy style game, the play boils down to draw one, play if possible, discard one.
Play of the first hand begins, with each player trying to complete the first Phase of the 10 Phases. Each player can make only one Phase during the play of a hand. Phases are made of sets, runs, cards all of one color, or a combination of sets and runs. The 10 Phases are:

1. 2 sets of 3
2. 1 set of 3 + 1 run of 4
3. l set of 4 + 1 run of 4
4. l run of 7
5. 1 run of 8
6. 1 run of 9
7. 2 sets of 4
8. 7 cards of 1 color
9. 1 set of 5 + 1 set of 2
10.1 set of 5 + 1 set of 3


Now look, anybody with a gut instinct can tell that those phases aren't especially challenging. They also don't seem to be progressively difficult. Worse, when you consider that once you've made your phase, you can "hit" on it (explained later), there's really not much distinction between Phases 4, 5, and 6 (nor between Phases 2 and 3). Also, with that many cards in your hand, it really isn't difficult to pull together a set of 3. Now, as I said, I'm too lazy right now to do the math, which is why I've sent it to the LJ brain trust. Actually, now that I'm looking at it, maybe the phases ARE mathematically progessively more difficult. However, I still feel like they're not distinct enough from one another.

DEFINITIONS: (I'm cutting out some of this...I'm sure you can all figure out what a wild card and a skip card means)
SETS: A set is made of two or more cards with the same number showing on their face.
EXAMLE: Phase 1 consists of 2 sets of 3, which could be 3 "7's" and 3 "10's". The cards can be in any combination of colors.
RUNS: A run is made of four or more cards numbered in order. EXAMPLE: Part of Phase 2 requires a run of 4, which could be "3", "4", "5", "6". The cards can be in any combination of colors.
ALL ONE COLOR: The cards are all the same color. EXAMPLE: Phase 8 requires 7 cards of one color, which could be 7 red cards or 7 green cards etc.

MAKING A PHASE: If, during the turn, the player makes a Phase with the cards in hand, the player may lay it down, face up on the table. For example, the player is trying to make Phase 1 and has 3 "5's" and 2 "7's", and draws another "7". The player now has 2 sets of 3 and may lay then down. NOTE: A player may never lay down part of a Phase, but must have the whole Phase in hand before laying it down.
A player may lay down more than the minimum requirements of a Phase, but only if the additional cards can be directly added to the cards already in the Phase.
EXAMPLES: A player making Phase 1 lays down 3 "5's" and 3 "7's". The player has 2 more "5's" in hand and can immediately lay them down with the 3 "5's", all in the same turn. Another player making Phase 1 lays down 3 "6's" and 3 "8's". The player also has 3 "10's" in hand, but cannot lay them down because Phase 1 requires exactly 2 sets. Thus, the player can only add more "6's" and "8's" to their Phase made of "6's" and "8's".
Only one Phase can be made per hand. If a player successfully makes a Phase in a hand, then the player must try to make the next Phase in a hand. If a player fails to make a Phase in a hand, the player must try to make the same Phase again in the next hand. Thus, some players, in the next hand, may no longer be working on the same Phase as other players. A player may never make a Phase out of order. For example, a player trying to make Phase 4 (1 run of 7) lays down a run of 9 cards. This qualifies as 1 run of 7 for Phase 4, but cannot be used as credit for either Phase 5 (1 run of 8) or Phase 6 (1 run of 9).

A player receives credit for making a Phase as soon as the player lays down that Phase. The player does not need to win the hand in order to receive credit for the Phase. Several players will often complete a Phase in the same hand.

Now here's another issue I have, but it still revolves around the phases. So, Player A completes Phase 3 and goes out. Player B had not yet completed Phase 3, and thus will still be working on 3 in the next hand while Player A works on Phase 4. I have no issue with this. But since the phases don't seem to get progressively more difficult (or at least not with ENOUGH difference in difficulty), Player A has an advantage for the rest of the game. Odds are good that Player A will at least make Phase 4 in the same hand that Player B makes Phase 3, even if Player A can't get rid of all their cards. So they'll be a phase ahead. Now, yeah, Player B CAN catch up, and it DOES happen. But it just feels like Player A ought to now be up against a more difficult challenge. In some NOTICEABLE way.

HITTING: Hitting is the way to get rid of leftover cards in the hand after making a Phase. A player makes a hit by laying down a card directly on a Phase already laid down. The card must properly fit in with the cards already down. EXAMPLES: A player may add one or more "4's" to a player's existing set of "4's". A player may add a "2" to a player's existing run of "3", "4", "5", "6"-the player may also add a "7" and an "8" to this run, if the player has them. A player may add one or more green cards to a player's 7 green cards in Phase 8. A player may add a "Wild" card of any color to any of these card situations.
Before a player can make a hit, the player's own Phase must already be laid down. A player may hit only during the player's turn A player may hit the player's own cards or another player's cards or both.

GOING OUT: The player who gets rid of the last card in hand, by discarding or hitting, is said to go out. This player wins the hand. The winner of the hand, and any other players who also complete their Phase, will advance to the next Phase for the next hand.

This is a nit, but who cares if the player "wins" the hand, since all players could conceivably move to the next phase? Oh, yeah, scoring. Sure. That comes next. But I contend that scoring is next to useless and it's annoying.

SCORING: Paper and pencil are needed for scoring, and a running total for each player is kept. The winner of the hand scores zero. All remaining players score points against them, for cards still in hand, as follows:

5 points for each card numbered 1-9. 10 points for each card numbered
10-12 15 points for each "Skip" card 25 points for each "Wild" card. Only cards in hand are scored, not cards already laid down. After the scores are recorded, the player to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer. All cards are gathered and shuffled, and a new hand is dealt.

Oooh! This looks like it could work, right? great! Now there's some strategy to going out first and "winning" the hand! And hey, you'd better be careful what you're collecting because if you get stuck with it, you'll rack up penalty points, right? Well sure. BUT....

THE WINNER: When, at the end of a hand, a player has completed Phase 10, that player is declared the winner, If two or more players complete Phase 10 in the same hand, then the player with the fewest total points is the winner. In the event of a tie, the players that tied replay Phase number 10. The first one to go out is the winner.

Okay, see, so the points only come into the picture IF both (or all) players complete phase 10 in the same hand. I've played half a dozen games. Admittedly, this is not a viable sample size. But bear with me, because other people I know have had the same experience. Anyway, I've played half a dozen games. All of them have ended with more than one player trying to get Phase 10 in the same hand. But NONE of them have ended with all players COMPLETING Phase 10 in the same hand. So the points never come into the picture. That's a lot of work to keep track of. Here's the thing... in Gin, whoever goes out first gets a bonus for the hand (or in this case, it would be a penalty against the other players). So why not say, anyone who doesn't go out in each hand gets 50 penalty points. In the last hand, the penalty is 100 points. Then use the penalty points to figure out who wins, or something? Well, actually, that could be bad, now that I think of it, because then there would be no incentive to complete phase 10. But I'm just saying. The points just don't serve a good enough purpose otherwise. Am I the only one that thinks this? Seth and I have all but given up even bothering to count points when playing because it's never been an issue.

Tags: ,
Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

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Comments
allah_sulu From: allah_sulu Date: May 5th, 2005 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sounds familiar. I think I played this a long time ago and was suitably unimpressed.
magid From: magid Date: May 5th, 2005 03:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
First reaction: why should I have to do these phases in that order? (I'm used to games where I have more choice as to what to play, which makes it more interesting to me). Second thought: in other games I've played where low points is better, I've seen it go until someone has xx points (100, whatever), and whoever has the least points then wins. So here, it would make more sense to have the game end when someone finishes Phase 10, but look at the scores, not who got Phase 10. Though probably there should be some points involved in getting to Phase 10, 10 off the score or something.
yermie From: yermie Date: May 5th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
They're good phases...

Why not alter it slightly. Since all Phase 10 is, is a game of contract rummy, adjust the rules so that you have to get all 10 "phases", though not necessarily in order (similar to Yahtzee - do you want that 23456 to be a large straight, or a small straight?). Change the scoring some... Maybe set it so that as soon as someone finishes all 10 phases, the game's over, and the points are totaled, determining the winner?

So you go through, finishing out your 10 phases, totalling each hand, getting everything done, and after someone gets all 10 done, the game's over, and the winner is determined... Could add the strategy of "don't finish" to the list of things to do... as you could be ahead in phases, but way back in points, so if you make your last phase, the game's over, and you'll lose....

Would especially add to it if in the scoring you add / subtract out a value for each phase.. say 10x the phase #? Maybe with a 1/2 modifier for previously done phases? That way you can keep redoing the same phases over and over trying to adjust your score, but if your opponent finishes it out, they may still have won?


Just a few brainstorms... Hope you brought your umbrella.
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: May 5th, 2005 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I still don't think the phases are good. I think they could be more challenging.

Suppose that one of the harder phases required that your run not only be in sequence, but that it be a flush? That would be pretty cool.

The points really bother me. That's what seriously pisses me off about the game. I'm not going through all the trouble to keep score only to find out that the score doesn't even matter.
From: predigested Date: May 5th, 2005 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
i just forwarded this whole post to Fundex Games; maybe it'll initiate change where it is duly needed. Or, of course, it may just result in the issuance of yet another "Dear-Wingnut..." form letter being fired off to you.

As a slight aside, have you seen any of the other games Fundex has to offer? After checking out "What's in Ned's Head?" at their website, the shortcomings of Phase 10 are quite easily forgotten.
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: May 5th, 2005 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it was my intention to write to Fundex, but I'd planned to wait until after I had viable changes to suggest.

It'll be interesting to see if they respond!
cellio From: cellio Date: May 5th, 2005 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I would change it so that completing phases affects score and the high score wins. That seems more logical to me than a race for the final phase.
cellio From: cellio Date: May 6th, 2005 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Err, best score wins, not high.
From: have_inner_lady Date: May 6th, 2005 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Positive game scores based on hand and completion of Phase. High score wins.

Wait... is this what you and others were suggesting?

Wait twice... maybe there shouldn't be math, and they should just have better phases. Or a shorter game, really. Phase 5 would be just about right, filtering through what they have now.

Did I ever tell you my mom and I (and some jerk) designed a board game? It's never been published. :-( Note the word jerk.
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