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Introduction

Hard Variants & Easy Variants

  • Some variants demand an enormous amount of efficiency. Since our normal conventions result in conservative play, we agree to change the way that we play in some specific variants in order to win more consistently.
  • We define any variant that requires equal to or greater than 1.25 efficiency as a "hard" variant. (Required efficiency can be seen in-game using the Hanab Live interface. Note that a variant can be considered easy in 4-player, but hard in 5-player, for example.)
  • Additionally, the following variants are considered to be hard variants even though they may have less than 1.25 required efficiency:
    • Any variant with a null suit
    • Any "Mix" variant
    • Color Mute
    • Number Mute
    • Cow & Pig
    • Duck
    • Throw It in a Hole
    • Up or Down

Convention Changes for All Hard Variants

  • Players are not allowed to Double Discard Avoid.
    • Any clue given in a Double Discard situation will instead be treated like a clue given in a non-Double Discard situation.
  • Players are not allowed to 5 Stall in the Early Game.
    • Any clue that looks like a 5 Stall is instead treated as either a 5's Chop Move or a 5 Pull.
  • Players are not required to clue anything in the Early Game; they are allowed to initiate the Mid-Game whenever they see fit.
  • Players are not allowed to give Double Tempo Clues.
    • If a Tempo Clue is given that touches two or more cards, only the leftmost card is communicated to be playable.
    • This will therefore cause a Tempo Clue Chop Move.
  • Loaded Play Clues, as defined below, are turned on.

The Early Save

  • Normally, players are allowed to give a Save Clue to a card on chop, even if that clued player:
    • has one or more playable cards to play (e.g. they won't discard their chop because they will almost certainly play their playable card)
    • has one or more known-trash cards to discard (e.g. they won't discard their chop because they will almost certainly discard their known-trash card instead)
  • If a Save Clue is given in this kind of situation, it is referred to as an Early Save. In our group, Early Saves are normal, and they don't cause anything special to happen. (Allowing Early Saves is nice because it allows for Discard Modulation.)

The Loaded Play Clue (in Hard Variants) (LPC)

  • First, see the section on the Early Save.
  • In Hard variants, Early Saves are not legal. Instead, if an Early Save is given to a player, then it is treated as a Play Clue on that card.
  • This is called a Loaded Play Clue to distinguish it from a more ordinary Play Clue, because the player receiving the clue is currently "loaded" with a play or "loaded" with a safe discard.
  • For example, in a 3-player game of a Hard variant:
    • All of the 2's are played on the stacks. Blue 4 is in the trash.
    • Alice clues number 3 to Cathy, touching a 3 as a Play Clue.
    • Bob clues number 4 to Cathy, touching a 4 on chop. Is it a Play Clue or a Save Clue?
    • Cathy knows that normally, Bob's number 4 clue could be an Early Save on a blue 4 (which is currently critical).
    • However, Cathy also knows that Early Saves are turned off in Hard variants. Since Cathy is loaded with her playable 3, Bob's clue must have been a Loaded Play Clue.
    • Cathy plays the 3. It is a red 3 and it successfully plays.
    • Cathy now knows that her 4 must be the red 4 (connecting to the red 3).
AliceBobClue GiverClue GiverCathyPlayable4Playablehard

Exceptions

  • Loaded Play Clues do not apply in the Early Game - they are only "turned on" in the Mid-Game.
  • Loaded Play Clues do not apply in Double Discard situations. (Even though Double Discard Avoidance is "turned off" in hard variants in general, players are still allowed to avoid Double Discarding by giving Early Saves to cards.)
  • Loaded Play Clues do apply in stalling situations (e.g. 8-clue stalling situations), but only if there are other things to do that are equal or lower precedence.
  • Loaded Play Clues do not apply to number 5 clues during the Low Score Phase.
  • For example, in a 3-player game:
    • It is the Low Score Phase.
    • Red 3 is played on the stacks.
    • Bob has a known red 4 in his hand on slot 5.
    • Alice clues number 5 to Bob, touching a 5 on slot 3.
    • Bob knows that he is Loaded, because he has a red 4 to play. Bob knows that normally, no-one else is supposed to give Save Clues to Loaded players (and that they should be transformed into Play Clues).
    • However, Bob knows that this rule doesn't apply to number 5 clues during the Low Score Phase.
    • Thus, Bob marks his slot 4 card as being Chop Moved and plays the red 4.
AliceClue GiverClue GiverBob5cmCathylow score
  • For example, in a 3-player game (similar to the last example):
    • It is the Low Score Phase.
    • Red 3 is played on the stacks.
    • Bob has a known red 4 in his hand on slot 4.
    • Alice clues number 5 to Bob, touching a 5 on slot 5 (Bob's chop).
    • Bob knows that he is Loaded, because he has a red 4 to play. Bob knows that normally, no-one else is supposed to give Save Clues to Loaded players (and that they should be transformed into Play Clues).
    • However, Bob knows that this rule doesn't apply to number 5 clues during the Low Score Phase.
    • Thus, Bob knows that Alice is performing a simple 5 Save and plays the red 4.
AliceClue GiverClue GiverBob5Cathylow score

The Always Loaded Principle

  • In certain variants, a specific type of clue always looks like a Save Clue regardless of which cards are in the discard pile.
  • For example:
    • In a dark prism variant, a 3 or 4 clue to the chop always looks like a Save Clue on prism 3 or prism 4.
    • In a brown variant, a brown clue to the chop always looks like a Save Clue on a brown 2, a brown 5, or another critical brown card.
  • In such cases, we agree that this specific type of clue, if given to a player who is Loaded, must always be treated as a play clue. (This includes during the Early Game.)
  • For example, in a 3-player game with a gray suit:
    • Gray 1 and blue 1 are played on the stacks.
    • Bob's hand is completely unclued.
    • Alice clues a gray 3 with a rank 3 clue on Cathy, who is currently Loaded.
    • Normally, Bob would assume that this is an Early Save. But due to the Always Loaded Principle, this must be a Loaded Play Clue.
    • Bob plays his Finesse Position card. It is a gray 2 and it successfully plays.
  • One consequence of this principle is that in some cases, you can use it to get cards played that do not belong to a special suit.
  • For example, in a 3-player game with a gray suit:
    • Gray 2 and blue 1 are played on the stacks.
    • Bob's hand is completely unclued.
    • Alice clues a critical blue 3 with a rank 3 clue on Cathy, who is currently Loaded.
    • Normally, Bob would assume that this is an Early Save. But due to the Always Loaded Principle, this must be a Loaded Play Clue.
    • If Bob does nothing, Cathy will assume that it is a Loaded Play Clue on the gray 3.
    • Thus, Bob plays his Finesse Position card. It is a blue 2 and it successfully plays.

2-Player

  • In the H-Group, we generally only play games with 3 to 5 players. If you are interested in playing 2-player games, then see the 2-player page.

Empty Clues

  • Empty Clues are clues that touch no cards in a hand. On Hanab Live, each game has the option to allow Empty Clues. In our group, we typically disallow this option since it makes the game too easy.
  • If Empty Clues are enabled, it allows for a much wider channel of information transfer. We have developed an entire convention framework around this channel and it is too complicated to cover in a single section here.
  • If you are interested in learning about in the extended Empty Clue conventions, they are documented on a separate page.