February 13, 2024: Zero Shuffles?!
Long-time readers know that I'm on part 47,813 of my exploration of card shuffling. In the previous installment, I mentioned having two more insights. This is the promised second one.
I love playing big "all-expansions"-type games; obviously, Munchkin is a great candidate for such super-deck shenanigans. One problem with this, however, is that a single "deck" of all cards can get pretty unwieldy. That many cards makes it a challenge to shuffle them so that they're completely random each time.
I would argue that, if one is playing such a mega-deck game multiple times: Why shuffle?
Sure, you need to randomize them once or twice, especially if they're new sets and you're just now breaking the cards' plastic wrap. But if you're playing multiple games and you're only 20% of the way through the chonky, teetering deck, then that means 80% of the deck was basically "random" from your perspective already. Why bother shuffling those? Or, at least, why bother shuffling the whole set 15 times, as the math might suggest? It'd probably work just as well to tuck the previously used cards in small batches into the previously unused deck, and then shuffle the whole thing once or twice – a nontrivial savings, time-wise. To quote Meatballs, "It just doesn't matter!"
Or, heck, if your group has a really big deck, just keep playing. Treat new games like subsequent hands of blackjack; if the Gazebo is in the discard pile, then all you card counters can rest easy knowing its deadly threats won't bother players until a reshuffle. Sure, those card counters might have a slight advantage, but it's Munchkin; the other door-kickers tend to take care of most balance issues if one adventurer starts seeming too much like a threat.
-- Steven Marsh
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