Variant by Ken Tidwell
After the first three or four games of X Pasch, I have a gripe. The game ends when the first player reaches an agreed upon point total. Since players rack up points relatively slowly everyone can see who is winning and how close the game is to finishing. Since we play with the bankruptcy rolls, the trailing players take it upon themselves to play God and giveth and taketh away at whim. Now if there were more ways for players to cooperate and build up some give and take this could make for a good diplomatic game. But there aren't so it just ends up, in my opinion, making for a rather arbitrary and unsatisfying ending to a very good game.
I suggest that what is needed is a classic Moon device: the unforeseen end. Take a standard deck of English-suited playing cards (substitute whatever you have at hand and adjust the suits accordingly). Sort out the spades, four diamonds, and two hearts. Shuffle the diamonds and spades and place them face down. Place the two hearts face down on top of the stack.
At the end of each round turn over the top card from the stack. The game ends when the fourth diamond is turned up. The hearts represent the honeymoon period when everyone knows that the game will not end. Thereafter the tension builds as more diamonds are uncovered. This scheme will give you game with between six and nineteen rounds with the average falling somewhere around thirteen about where the game would end if you played to the recommended point values.
Using this variant, it is harder for the trailing players to play God. Its even harder to establish who the hopelessly trailing players are since the game may drag out to nineteen rounds or end suddenly after six.
Tip of the hat to Mr. Moon for employing this device so well in Airlines, Freight Train, and Reibach & Co.
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell