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The Last Ships from Atlantis by Torben Mogensen

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Anonymous

I have the distinct pleasure of judging the very last game in the first ever BGDF game contest. Hearty congratulations to everyone that submitted games for review. (And a big “thank you” to Michael (Darkehorse) and Chris(XXOOCC) for all their work judging and administering the contest!

And the last game is….

The Last Ships from Atlantis by Torben Mogensen

Theme: (10 points)- You hit it out of the park with this one Torben. (May I call you Torben?) Build your island paradise just to watch it sink below the ocean. (This guy even has a rule for “storm resistance.”) As you play you build ships to rush your islanders to safety. It’s the end of the world as we know it.
10 points

Originality: (10 points)- Now here I fear we must take some points back. While the mechanic works very well, the heart of this game is another food, wood, tin, a collect the resources game. Although in this game we do call them “Plains, Forest and Hill.”

Don’t get me wrong we must award some points based on the creative rules that allow you to build “dikes” and sink and some island squares that fail the “storm resistance” tests. (Storm resistance is so cool I’m giving you points in both Theme and Originality rankings!)

In this game you can’t save Atlantis so the game ends when either the last tile (which holds the temple) sinks below the sea or you run out of ship pieces. (Yeah, that’s a bit weak…2 points from Gryffinder!)
5 points

Cohesiveness: (15 points)- The game seems to play just fine and in our games we didn’t see any obvious ways to break the game. The game plays fine. And the abstract nature of your pieces doesn’t help or hurt the game mechanic.

I do have to mention the rules seem lacking. (I feel for you here. Rules writing is one of the toughest jobs games designers have!) You start out very strong with section headings and good organization in the beginning. But I was very surprised to not find a section call something like “Winning the Game.” Instead you stash it in the final paragraph of section six. You don’t mention the “run out of ships and the game ends” rule until the end of section 7. You might want to consider having your win conditions together and in big letters.
8 points

Components: (5 points)- You make it very clear the components are “prototypes.” And as such they served their purpose well. My only fear is that you need a bunch of tokens to play this game. As a game publisher I shudder to think how much I’d have to pay the plastic people to produce this game.
That being said you had tokens for everything you were tracking and they were more than adequate.
3 points

Fun: (25 points)- This game was fun. To be brutally truthful I don’t think I’ll pull it out of my closet again. We did enjoy pulling the island apart but the game really does setup early on. Maybe add some rules for destroying or taking over opponent’s ships. It’s all about getting ships. Once that happens you really can’t touch a player. Being able to change ownership on ships would allow you to stay in the game right until the end.

Otherwise game play was pretty brisk and without trouble. I can honestly say the game was very low maintenance with sound game mechanics. (No small feat!) I would suggest more color text. In order to motivate a player you need to extend the fun of playing the game into the rules. (Or in this case maybe you extend that feeling of desperation.)
13 points

Summary: Excellent effort and great mechanic!
39 points total!

-Ed Evans, Partner
Alien Menace Games
(Corrections to totals made by judge.)

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Results Tally

Folks as an FYI, I will be tallying the votes and posting the official results sometime later this evening.

-Darke

Anonymous
Re: The Last Ships from Atlantis

Thanks for the review, it is always good to know get honest opinions about your designs. As many other contestants, I rushed to get the game finished by the deadline and have made a few modifications since the competition entry, mainly to increase inter-player interaction and reduce the cases where the game ends far too quickly with severe storms in the first couple of turns (I now add the turn number to one die instead of adding two dice to determine storms).

I agree with you that rules writing is hard. I tried to be precise and complete, but it is far too easy to forget something. I considered leaving out the bit about running out of ships, as it would happen very rarely, but I left it in for completeness sake. And I agree about the lack of flavour. I'm not a graphics designer, so the pieces came out very abstract and I was too rushed to add much flavour text.

I'm expecially happy about your comment that the game was "very low maintenance with sound mechanics", as I was aiming for a low-complexity game, somewhat in the "German" tradition.

As for your suggestion for adding a mechanism to allow ships to change hands, that doesn't really fit with the theme -- after all, the ships represent population that has already been sent away and essentially work as victory points. But maybe some other way of "going after the leader" should be added. Possibly, the mechanism I added to avoid early end would go a way towards allowing other players to catch on.

If anyone would like a copy of the rules and prototype components, drop me a line and I'll email them to you.

Torben

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