Dartsdown

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Graeme Cole
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Dartsdown

Post by Graeme Cole » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:33 pm

You've heard of chess boxing. You've heard of... erm... yes, it turns out there are other hybrid sports. Now, inspired by a recent Facebook comment thread, I've invented Dartsdown!

One-sentence synopsis
Dartsdown is the Countdown numbers game, but you pick your starting numbers by throwing six darts.

Rules
A game is played to a previously agreed number of rounds (say 3).

In each round, each player throws six darts at a standard dartboard to give that player's six starting numbers. The rest of the round is the same as the Countdown numbers game - a target is generated and the players have 30 seconds to get as close as they can to the target using their numbers. Scoring works the same as on the show.

If the players are tied at the end of the game, they go to sudden death - additional rounds are played until one player is ahead.

Rationale
At first I thought that the players could play to the same selection like in the normal game, and you could alternate round-by-round who throws to pick the numbers. However, this creates a perverse incentive for a player who's ahead in the final round to throw their darts at the floor if they happen to be the thrower. You could fix this by making it "first to N points" rather than "best of N rounds" but that would mean the duration of the game would be quite unpredictable and depend heavily on the skill of the players (very much like standard darts, as we know from previous COLINs).

Having each player "pick" their own numbers adds a bit of unpredictability, but not too much that it's entirely a game of luck. If you get a "good" selection, containing a healthy balance of multiples of 10 and smaller numbers, this would increase your chances of winning the round, but depending on the target there's still a small chance of the other player's "bad" selection turning out to be the easier one. Also, if you always pick your own numbers, every round tests the darts and mental arithmetic skills of both players. There's some element of being able to trade-off one skill against another - a weaker darts player can still win by being better at arithmetic, and vice versa - but you still need a basic level of skill in both disciplines.

Playtesting
You'll be pleased to hear that I have comprehensively playtested this game by playing one round of it by myself. The numbers were 20, 4, 18, 60, 20 and 3, and the target was 599. I got 10 points. Working out how is left as an exercise for the reader.

Admin and rules I haven't decided on yet
Very little thought has been given to how this can actually work in a pub, which needs fixing because this definitely needs to be played at COLIN. According to my bare minimum thinking, you should only need one host. The host (caller) has the fiddly job of writing down each player's numbers and making them visible to the players from the Arithmetic Arena. They then have to generate the target, start the clock, and ask for the players' declarations and solutions like in a normal numbers game.

There's no reason there couldn't be more than two players. Also, the players don't have to play at the same time to the same target. What if you want to have ten players? In a pub environment it's almost impossible to get ten specific people in the same room at the same time so it would be easier to get each person to play their turn independently as and when they're available. Also it's probably better for spectators if there's only one selection and target to look at at once.

What if a dart bounces out or otherwise doesn't score? Do you now have a zero in your selection? Can you re-throw the dart? Can you re-throw the same dart more than once until it scores?

Unless you're very good at darts, the numbers games are going to be difficult. If both players are crap at darts, then you'll often get rounds where it's very hard or impossible to get within 10. To avoid a succession of no-score rounds, I'm thinking a solution greater than 10 away should score 1 point, provided the opponent doesn't beat it.

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James Laverty
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Re: Dartsdown

Post by James Laverty » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:39 pm

I very much like this- possible event for Friday night at CoLin?
Definitely not Jamie McNeill or Schrodinger's Cat....

Matt Bayfield
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Re: Dartsdown

Post by Matt Bayfield » Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:14 pm

Lots of pissibilities for variants here. Given that we only have one board, I propose each round as follows:

1. The officiator generates a target, e.g. 797, and keeps it secret from other players. This target remains the same for all players. Non-playing spectators may be told the target, e.g. by writing it on paper, while all players turn their backs.

2. Player A is whispered or shown the target (in a manner that subsequent players can't see it), and the clock is immediately started. Player A then has n seconds (I would propose n = 60) to throw their 6 darts, note their own scores for each dart, and solve the Numbers round. Knowing the target in advance would inform the player's choice of where to throw the darts, but they also would have to trade off time taken in the three disciplines of (a) working out favourable numbers to hit, (b) aiming and throwing accurately, (c) solving.

3. Player A gives their declaration and the officiator checks their solution (in secret from other players, though spectators may see the solution).

Repeat steps 2, 3 for Players B, C, until all players have played the target generated in step 1.

Play as many rounds as you wish.

Note: in such a variant, where the dart-throwing has to be performed as part of the allowed time, I suggest the player starts with 2 sets of 3 darts in hand, rather than having to faff retrieving a set of three. This also means that all six darts remain in the board so there can be no confusion over the six "seed numbers" that the player is supposed to be using. Using a number in a solution, which the player didn't throw, busts your score, and automatically scores zero points for that round.
Last edited by Matt Bayfield on Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Graeme Cole
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Re: Dartsdown

Post by Graeme Cole » Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:17 pm

I've just playtested this further. Out of 15 rounds, I solved 3 exactly, was 1-5 away on 8 of them and was 6-10 away on 1 of them. It seems that as long as you get a reasonable selection, getting 1 or 2 away is usually doable.

Matt Bayfield
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Re: Dartsdown

Post by Matt Bayfield » Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:19 am

I've come up with a letters variant. In brief:

The host picks 2 consonants, 1 vowel. The clock starts, player A has a combined n seconds (again, I suggest n = 60) to throw 6 darts at a board annotated with letters in the various scoring segments and form a word. The 6 letters player A throws are combined with the 3 letters picked by the host, and player A makes the longest word possible. The objective here is to throw one's 6 darts into segments that will give, ideally, a 9-letter word including the 3 letters picked by the host. If one's darts aren't quite as accurate, max available might only be 8, 7 or 6, and it might be a more obscure word. At the end of the n seconds, player A declares their word.

Player B (who doesn't yet know the three starter letters picked by the host), is now given the same 3 letters, and Player B's time starts.

I posted a picture of what the board would look like, on a FB thread. Perhaps someone with access to the FB thread could copy it to be visible here please.

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