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Save the Egg Queen by Johan Forsell

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Anonymous

Save the Egg Queen by Johan Forsell

Before I begin, allow me to say that I do not believe that this designer speaks English as his primary language, but that I thought his mastery of it worthy of some praise, although interpreting the rules was, in some minor ways, difficult as a result. Ich spreche ohne ein bischen aus einer andere sprach, und ich sauche aus das… (I speak only a little of another language and I suck at it – I think?)… and so I have great respect for the command of the language shown… but it did detract a bit. I have done my utmost to remove any prejudice this might have caused from our judging. On to it, as it were.

Theme: (10 points)
Save the Egg Queen is the tale of an anthill being slowly drowned in a rising flood, and the players control groups of ants trying their best to save enough of the remnants of their ant civilization to rebuild at another site (sometime AFTER the game takes place). Again, this is definitely doomed… and I do buy that ants can have a civilization. Unfortunately, the aspects of ‘what’s being saved’ have little bearing (although some) on the civilization aspect, and are instead more concerned with barest survival. In the game, a successful ‘escaping group’ of ants should contain a queen egg, and enough food for the ants that are escaping in/with the group. No mention of the accoutrements of civilization (the Holy records! Save the Holy Records! or like items) is made, thus straying from the civilization aspect of the focus. Still, within the inner circle, if not the black (sorry, obscure target reference): 8 points.

Originality: (10 points) This was the second ‘Shrinking Environment Game” that has been submitted in this contest, but again, I find it rather unique for the gaming market. The mechanics were generally based around ‘pick chits out of a cup’, and fairly standard resource management and ‘each unit has different abilities’, base, which is less than original, although well integrated in a structure that would provide this game a fairly unique approach when compared to others in the market.
The gang and I pretty much agreed here, although I’m scoring on the generous side of the average: 8 points

Cohesiveness: (15 points)
This game suffers a bit from over-complexity, although normally that would not affect this aspect of the scoring. When this level of complexity is coupled with a slight language barrier, however, it can become a bit confusing. As mentioned, however, I plan only to ‘score’ what I perceive are either incongruities in the rules, or unclear areas (rules that might be interpreted in more than one way). One good example of this was the ‘digging to the last layer rule’. In the game, certain ants called “Digger Ants [sic]” may return an object discovered while digging to the ‘draw pile’ of items. In addition, one type of item in the draw pile indicates that a void has been uncovered, which might result in water flooding a given hex, and the dropping of all items by ants within the hex that cannot swim. Can the Digger Ant discard the ‘void’ item and thereby suffer no penalty? We decided it could, but were unsure. There were a couple of other examples, although I’m not going to detail them here. They were fairly minor, and we simply made a judgment call, as a group, in each case.
Overall, way too complex… with approximately six rule checks per player per turn on the first game, (although this dropped to five on the second), the ‘works intuitively well together’ (or ‘cohesively’) aspect was a bit lacking.
Not terrible, however, and the mechanics reflected well the chosen topic of the game: 11 points.

Components (5 points): Well done, colorful, and made-us-want-to-play components were watchword of this product. Nicely done, and close to market-ready, although the graphics were a bit low-res.
4 points here.

Fun (25 points):
The gang had a good time, and was convinced that a second go-round (a second playtest game) would prove to be a better time than the first, which it was as the complexity of the rules got in the way less than it did on the first round of play. It was still a bit cumbersome, however, and that was the main factor that cost this otherwise intellectually stimulating entry a fair number of points. Just to back up my expostulation in that regard, allow me to illustrate with some actual numbers on componentry, and the decision-making matrix.

The matrix is composed of:
6 ant types, each specializing in one or more activities…
9 unique object types, each with a separate utility…
7 different major actions that each ‘ant unit’ might perform in a given turn with three of these actions having unique rule subsets
5 portions to the turn sequence
and up to three unique interrupts…

When you do the math - You wind up with a 3 X (averaged) 7 decision-making matrix for each player on each turn… or roughly thrice the complexity of Settlers of Catan… Too much rules ‘lawyering’ required for a strictly enjoyable game. If there were fewer items, actions, and ant types, I think the average player would be better able to calculate the permutations of any given action by any of his units, and the game would be more fun.
I made that sound horrible… it wasn’t. On the whole, it was a fairly good time, although the players also complained about the random aspect of the turn sequence (which player is both next to play, and, on occasion, allowed to play, is determined randomly).
The average from our gang here: 17 points for fun.

Side Note: A re-organization of these rules, with the Turn Sequence as a whole encapsulated before various rules details are explained in depth, would probably help this game a lot by making ‘look ups’ faster, and better organized. A solid edit, with more examples, would also be a good idea in my opinion. Not that either demonstrated a sore point… but that the rules themselves don’t really need the work as much as, in my opinion, the organization thereof does.

Personal Prediction: I’m not sure that any company could afford to produce this (with close to 200 individual pieces… and yes there are some companies, perhaps), but I can think of MANY companies that would take a very serious look at a slightly simplified version. Keep an eye on this one.

Total score: 48 points

zaiga
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Save the Egg Queen by Johan Forsell

I'm really excited about these reviews. Great job Chris, keep them coming. I don't think you are being t0o harsh, on the contrary I think your comments are actually pretty mild and your scores relatively high.

Congrats to Johan, looks like 48 is a good score.

Scurra
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Save the Egg Queen by Johan Forsell

Ditto. It's clear that Chris is determined to ensure that all the entrants have appropriate feedback with useful comments, and I'm really glad about it. In a way, I'm slightly envious of Chris and his team who are obviously getting to play a bunch of really not bad games and potentially one or two stars.

Anonymous
Save the Egg Queen by Johan Forsell

"one or two stars"....

ALL of the games have been at least one star thus far... If you want that system, I'd say that EE was one star, SEQ was two... FGP probably 4 and a half thus far...

I find the average industry-developed game to be about two stars... with my personal faves like Settlers of Catan or Dune ranking in the 4-5 star category.

As mentioned in the review, FGP would make my desert island list for cripes sake.... possibly even in PREFERENCE to Settlers.

One star, means "at least average for whats in print in the industry... which means you get average points, or in the "30-range"

...but I also believe that everyone, especially the designers... want to hear more about why they lost points than why they got them... so its entirely possible that the reviews 'read' worse than the scoring they receive... You can only say , "This was cool" so many times before it becomes meaningless...

For those that have seen it, for instance, I'd give Gods of Denial about a 25 right now... which is why we have taken it off the publication list.

Hope this sheds some light :-)...and the encouraging words that this effort is worthwhile on my part make it worthwhile on my part :-)
XXOOCC

Scurra
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Save the Egg Queen by Johan Forsell

Ah, I meant "star" as in "big name", not star as in scoring...

FastLearner
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Save the Egg Queen by Johan Forsell

Let me take this opportunity to express my appreciation as well. I know that it takes a couple hours to play a game and decide whether you -- broadly -- did or didn't like it. It takes a whole lot more time to actually come up with constructive criticism, and I very much appreciate it. Thank you all.

Johan
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Save the Egg Queen by Johan Forsell

Hello

Thanks for the score and for the feedback.

As you pointed out: English is not my primary language (it is Swedish) and I normally write all my games in my own language.

I will reorganize the rules (as you suggested) and to remove some components (the Digger and the Nurse is not the best ants around). I have no plan to publish the game in a printed format or send the game to any company (just to present it on the Net).

// Johan

P.s. Great job XXOOCC

Anonymous
Save the Egg Queen by Johan Forsell

Just for those wondering... my command of Swedish is non-existant... so I am still impressed.

I do think you could make a living out of designing games Johan. Please don't be depressed by any comments I might make. I do hope that my opinions will help, but please don't rely strictly on me! Ask a few others (that know you not - strangers opinions are always best) to play this, and maximize those aspects of your game that they find intriguing, while minimizing what they find less than fun... and you'll wind up with a winner when you're done.

...ALL of my brainchildren go through this process, and it never fails to help... even though some of those children then wind up being aborted.
(Sorry for the disgusting mental image.)

XXOOCC

Johan
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Save the Egg Queen by Johan Forsell

Hello

Don?t worry XXOOCC. I work as a "Disaster manager" (take over projects that does not work, be project leader over projects that are doomed before they started and build new parts in the organisation that everybody think we should have but nobody wants to support) and in my job I get a lot of criticism. I really did see your comments as feedback and I think you do a great job with this contest.
I also mostly agree on all of your comments (except on the theme remark (the egg queen is the "holy record") but you are the judge :) ).

Yesterday I was going to put the game out on Internet, but I ran in to some problem. I will inform you all when the game is out there.

With the comments and a review I did on the the game I made a decision. The game will be updated. The changes (version 1.1 of the game) are planned to mid November.

The changes are:

Rules
I agree that the rules need to be reorganised and in some points simplified. That will be done.

Design
Some small changes in the design will be done (new game board style and maybe new ants).

Hex tiles
Instead of the game board, it will be hex tiles with the anthill on one side and the water on the other. It will be easier to see if the hex is filled with water or not (game component "water marker" will be removed").

Random movement cards
Changes in the turn sequence will be done. The cards will remain, but it will be less random.

Battle
Simplify the battle (I will try to remove the dice).

Digging
Easy digging principle. (You pick the number of chits that you have ants digging).

Special ants
All special ants (except the leaders) will be moved to an advanced game expansion.

Move the raft
Simplify the movement of the raft.

Remove chits
The chits for special ants and for leaf will be moved to the expansion.

Leader
I you lose the leader, some other ant will take over the role, but to the cost of one ant to the "lost soul" box.

// Johan

Johan
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Save the Egg Queen by Johan Forsell

Hello

Now SEQ is out on the Internet. You can download the game on my homepage http://hem.lidnet.se/~johan.forsell/ (The homepage is in Swedish but the game is in English) follow the link under the ant picture. In the SEQ page, download the rules (= Regler) and game board, counters etc. (under Tillbehör).

// Johan

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