Wednesday, November 29, 2017

responses to a proposal to change the rules for Hearts

I've counted up the votes on the proposal to change the rules of the Hearts game. You can read the previous blog post for details. This is a summary of the proposed rule changes, along with the results:
  1. Remove the "no-passing" round. There were 37 votes opposed to removing the no-pass round, 14 in favor of it.
  2. Remove "shooting the sun" penalty. There were 20 votes opposed to removing the penalty, 30 in favor of it.
  3. Remove forcing a person to play the Queen of Spades if hearts have not been broken and they only have hearts plus the Queen. There were 31 votes opposed to removing being forced to play the queen if hearts not broken, 10 in favor of it.
I excluded "maybe" votes when counting. The counted votes include several emails that were sent directly to me, as well as comments on the previous blog post.

I am a little bit surprised at the results, but I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. It stands to reason that anyone who feels very strongly about these rules wouldn't be playing at the site for any length of time. Apparently the one rule that the majority would like changed is the shooting the sun penalty, and this is something that doesn't happen that often.

For anyone who feels very strongly about these rules, I'm sorry. You may have heard this before: I know I can't make everyone happy. While I'd like to make the site infinitely customizable with all possible Options, I can't. Given that a majority are opposed to (1) and (3), I cannot see implementing these as a default. I may implement them as an Option to the game in the future. If I do introduce them as an Option, I'd need to put some thought into how the rule is applied to ranked games. For example, should there be a whole new ranked leader board for Hearts when played with different Options? This seems more entertaining, but is also more labor-intensive.

I have mixed feelings on (2). The main reason that people dislike the shooting the sun penalty is - correct me if I'm wrong - that it ends the game too soon, and depends too heavily on luck. I'm actually surprised that so many people are opposed to this penalty, given that other card games often have a similar rule. For example, in Bridge, there's the "grand slam". Some people play Spades with a special award for winning all the tricks (the "Boston").

If I recall correctly, the one time that I shot the sun, it could have been prevented. What I recall is that I got hit with the Queen. I had exactly one hearts card, the King of Hearts. I played the King of Hearts, someone did not cover by taking it with the Ace, and I then proceeded to take the rest.

In some cases, such as this, the "shooting the sun" penalty seems deserved. I would argue that the "shooting the sun" penalty is so severe that it encourages people to "cover their passes", to pass a low hearts card, and in general play better, strategically.

Please argue with my points in the comments section. I freely admit that I am not a very good Hearts player, and it may be that my impressions about shooting the sun are false.