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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

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Brykovian
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Use this thread to post critiques and/or comments about the entries in the July 2006 GDS Challenge (found here).

-Bryk

Pt314
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

14 entries, wow

Hmm, trick taking fishing tournament may have been a bit too restrictive, but a lot of these look preety good.

Brykovian
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Pt314 wrote:
14 entries, wow

There are 15 entries ... be sure to read the second page of the thread to get the 15th one ...

-Bryk

Yogurt
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

No ice fishing entries! I really wanted to call my game "Hardwater" but thematically, it didn't feel like an ice fishing game.

There's an "Eelpout" tournament in the States somewhere. Eelpout is a typically unpalatable fish. The word "Eelpout" would make for a great card game name too.

Brykovian wrote:
There are 15 entries

When this happens, maybe peg a little reminder to the bottom of entry 14. I nearly missed the 15th entry in the last contest, even though I *knew* it was there.

Brykovian
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

yogurt wrote:
When this happens, maybe peg a little reminder to the bottom of entry 14.

Good idea ... I'll go add that.

-Bryk

Hedge-o-Matic
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Aw, man! Got my entry in 45 minutes too late! wah!

Horoku
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is it trick taking?

is anyone else surprised that we didn't see more games like spades, bid whist, hearts and pinochle? it seems that several of the games are not really "trick taking" but more "card taking" where an auction style "highest bidder" concept prevails. I DO like the many different scoring mechanisms, for the most part it seems everyone got creative there. Also, many people worked in ideas from already existing games like "shooting the moon" and passing three cards as in Hearts.

As far as the whole "restrictive idea", i think the simple fact that there are hundreds of trick taking games/variants in the U.S. alone proves that this is a broad area...IF one is willing to learn. No disrespect, but it does seem from some entries that some entrants might not be very familiar with the concept of a trick taking game, which i will readily admit, does make it a bit unfair.

doho123
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Re: is it trick taking?

Horoku wrote:
it seems that several of the games are not really "trick taking" but more "card taking" where an auction style "highest bidder" concept prevails.

Isn't the basic definition of "trick taking" generally being the player who had the highest bid (or the highest valued card)?

Yogurt
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Re: is it trick taking?

Horoku wrote:
i think the simple fact that there are hundreds of trick taking games/variants in the U.S. alone proves that this is a broad area

But fewer than 40 percent of these games are about professional fishing tournaments.

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...IF one is willing to learn.

Well, forget it then.

;)

Horoku
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don't sell yourself short

yogurt wrote:
But fewer than 40 percent of these games are about professional fishing tournaments.

cmon yogurt, i've seen your entries to the challenges in the past, and you've seemed to have no trouble applying any of the themes to your game ideas. in fact, i don't think i've ever read one that did not apply to the required theme, so i don't think you can blame me for thinking that this challenge is well within your grasp... :D props

doho123 wrote:
Isn't the basic definition of "trick taking" generally being the player who had the highest bid (or the highest valued card)?

Good observation. But on that same logic you could call the game "War" (a game where players have facedown piles of cards and simultaneously flip their top card, highest card wins, ties result in showdown with tying players, play goes until only one player has cards remaining) a trick taking game, even though nothing that the player does influences his/her ability to win.

when i look for a "trick taking" game, i like to see card counting, trump drawing and or bidding-on-hand concepts and strategies. for example, in spades players must bid how many tricks they think they can make. in bid whist, players also bid to control who sets trump and what cards can win tricks. in bridge (specifically tournaments), teams all take turns playing the same preset hands to see if they can make more tricks than other teams could.

the key aspect is a strategy for both powerful and weak hands. in spades and bid whist, if the weaker(defending) team can prevent the other team from making a bid, it incurs a penalty which can level the playing field. in bridge a team can try to prevent opponents from getting as many tricks by playing the same cards at different times. since the capacity for bluffing isn't there as in poker, game mechanics should prevent a lucky hand from being an absolute winner. otherwise we might as well just cut the deck for the high card 13 times and say we played a game...

Yogurt
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Horoku wrote:
cmon yogurt...

Okay, I'll reply more seriously to your first post.

The reason I effectively rolled my eyes was I thought you were unfair to the entrants. It's a harsh judgement on 15 anonymous people to say they were "unwilling to learn," just because they didn't use elements from your favourite trick-taking games.

I deleted a bit here. I thought you'd misread my "restrictive" comment about Wikipedia's trick-taking definition, so I re-explained it, but I see now you were talking to Pt314.

Anyway, this month's requirement really was more confining than "area majority" or "uses a gadget" especially when combined with a 52-card deck. That's not a complaint. It can be just as fun to see what you can build in a sandbox as at a beach.

Quote:
when i look for a "trick taking" game, i like to see card counting, trump drawing and or bidding-on-hand concepts and strategies.

I'm sure most entrants have heard of bridge. But I'm not surprised that few designers chose to put bidding in the game. Offhand, I can't think of anything in a fishing tournament that really feels like bidding, so the theme guided the designs.

I'm sure we could invent something. (In fact, maybe I just did. How far out the angler goes out to sea determines how much time he or she has to fish, so by venturing out further, you're betting you can do more in less time than the others.) But since that mechanic wasn't required, the designers explored other spaces.

In the end, your messages include some great ideas for what should be included in a trick-taking game, and I hope you entered the challenge, because I'd like to try them out. But you could have put these ideas forward more genially, without insulting anyone.

I know you probably didn't mean anything by it, which is why I made a joke.

Update: On reflection, most of my post boils down to the workshopping rule of "critique the work, not the writer."

Yogurt
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

By the way, my absolute favourite thing about this month's competition is that the 52-card-deck requirement means I have prototypes of all the games already! For the first time, I can actually play the games I admire.

Horoku
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good stuff

yogurt wrote:
I know you probably didn't mean anything by it, which is why I made a joke.

Well i'm relieved that you didn't think ill of me, as my intent was not to insult anyone, and the "if one is willing to learn" was purely intended to be a joke.(in hindsight, a well placed smiley probably would have alleviated some of the tension...) i doubt if unwillingness to learn could be labeled on anyone here, since every challenge is a learning experience. the real point of my initial post was that in many other challenges, i saw so many different popular concepts that already existed in well known games of the type, blended in with game creators' original ideas, whereas in this one, entrants didn't seem to do that. that's why i said i was "surprised".

yogurt wrote:
On reflection, most of my post boils down to the workshopping rule of "critique the work, not the writer."

i wholeheartedly agree with this, and i'm even planning on doing my first game by game overview, to highlight what i found to be some of the most creative scoring and conflict mechanisms yet. even though many of the gameplay mechanisms ended up being similar, i found something different in all of them, which impressed upon me that these guys could basically find a way to be different even if they were all given the same mechanic, and told to mod it. also, there's no way i could pass a negative judgement on any of the entrants since i've seen their work in challenges over the months, and these in themselves are a testament to the quality of the workmen(and women). all in all, i didn't want to come off harsh at all, just wanted to see if i could get some idea of what everybody was thinking about the entries so far

Yogurt
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Re: good stuff

Horoku wrote:
all in all, i didn't want to come off harsh at all, just wanted to see if i could get some idea of what everybody was thinking about the entries so far

Okay, I totally missed you were joking. Sorry to throw up my hackles.

I look forward to seeing your comments on the entries. I thought your point about how a good trick-taking game provides a role for strong and weak hands was a smart observation, and I hope you have a chance to come back to that.

Xaqery
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Congrats to the winners!

I am very sorry to all because I did not vote. I got really busy in the last few days. I appologize.

I Think I was going to vote for THE GREAT LAKES FISH OUT, Bait & Tackle , and FLY vs. FLY. so I dont think it would have chnged much but I still owe it to you guys to fully participate.

- Dwight

seo
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Congratulations to the winners! And to all the rest too. Competition was very close this month in my scores, with no sigle game taking the lead, nor any falling behind. Actually, in the 1 to 10 scale I use for my first evaluation of the entries, all games were between 7 and 8 (had to use decimals to set subtle differences).

All the games seem to be playable and have some interesting detail, and following Yogurt's idea, I'll probably give a try to at least some of them, given that I already have complete prototypes. :-)

In the end I awarded 3 point each to my three favourite entries: Bait & Tackle, The Great Lakes Fish Out! and Jack (Dempsey)'s or Better. But as I mentioned, I ranked all the games almost the same, so it could have easily been 2 points for 5 of the games too. I just had this tripple tie for first, so I decided to spread the points among them three.

Seo

bluesea
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Yeah, congrats to all!

Next time I'll try to keep to the word limit! In my haste and excitement to get my first ever entry in, I completely forgot about the max word rule:( ...c'est la vie.

It was still fun...looking forward to September!

John

Jpwoo
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Both my game and my critiques are were a bit rushed this month, but at least I didn't get shut out! My crits aren't as in depth this time but don't let that seem like this wasn't an interesting challenge. We saw a lot of games with a lot of different ideas in them.

I will preface my critiques by saying that I generally judged them against exsisting games of the 52 trick taking genre, such as hearts and spades. I think that this unduely punished the more complex games, but I think that there is a reason that most standard card games don't have a lot of complexity to them. Time has polished these games in a way that regular playtesting cannot.

Here we go.

Pirogue

Our only entry with graphics, and fancy ones at that. There are a few ideas in this game that I like. I like the idea that players play both as individuals and as a team, and that they can win either way. Splitting the deck so that you are guaranteed a certain number of face cards is interesting, but if you didn’t use two different colored decks it would get tedious sorting between deals.

In “Timequake” by Kurt Vonnegut he tells a story about talking to a fisherman friend of his about the story “The old man and the sea”. His friend thought that the old man was stupid for letting the sharks eat his catch, he should have just cut the best pieces of meat off the fish and brought them back in the boat and dropped off the carcass. I mention this because of the fishing theme and I think that this game needed to cut the choice filets and leave the guts in the water. Several of the games suffered from this. Pirogue just happens to be the first on the list.

When I think of card games I generally think of a few simple rules and maybe one or two exceptions. Remembering lots of exceptions in cards can be difficult because the cards provide little theme to the game to help remember the rules, and people know a lot of card games so they all muddle. When I look at all the scoring options, I don’t know if I could play this game without a cheat sheet.

King Fish

I really like this game. Simple set of rules that are understandable on the first reading, some interesting choices to make. I like the choice between using your cards as both line and bait. The fact that all the fish are visible allows a player to plan ahead. The only thing that I am not sure about is the simultaneous selection of bait. It might be more interesting to let players see what comes before them in bait selection. Or maybe this would be too easy, I can’t tell without playing the game

Bait and Tackle:

Another dead on game in terms of complexity. The base game is extremely simple, high trump takes the trick. And only one set of exceptions with the “Special powers” cards. The big choices you have to make in this game are what cards do you swap over for tools rather than scoring them.

The Heart and the Diamond both seem more powerful than the spade or club but this is compensated by the higher scoring value of the red cards. This game sounds like lighthearted fun, without too many brain burning choices.

Fly Vs Fly

I think this game could use a little simplification just from a read through, but I could be wrong, as none of the exceptions to rules are very obscure.

Setting the fish limit is an interesting take on bidding. A weak hand will lower the fish limit in order to limit points an opponent can take. A strong hand will run up the limit. I like this aspect of the game. Only the lead scoring is a nice touch as well, very themematic of fishing (though not really of spies fishing!)

The scoring is a bit obtuse, a 5-10-15-20 system would be better in my opinion, just to speed things up. The flow rule is interesting but I am not sure that it serves as anything more than a curiosity in the game. I initial feeling is that it could be dropped from the game.

The Great lakes Fish out!

This game feels more like a German style card game than a more typical trick taking game. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. I could see a version with nice cartoon fish on the cards, I think it could only help the game.

I’m not really sure that it is a trick taking game, but it has some interesting ideas. I like the choice between stocking a suit with fish or harvesting it. Though there are some no brainer choices there, I imagine there are some interesting ones as well. Only being able to take one harvest of each suit is nice too. This looks like a unique and interesting game. However it could also be the kind of game that looks great on paper but is a disaster to play.

Jack (Dempsey’s) or better

Some cool ideas in this game. I like that 4 players compete for 3 fish, that add some stress to the game. I like the poker scoring aspect of the game though it isn’t particularly evocative of fishing to me (Bird watching maybe).
The way the fish respond to bait has me a bit torn. I like that the complex odd/even red/black aspects of the different fish allow you to better tailor your bait to your fish and therefore help you make the best hand. However I also find it an annoying aspect to remember.

Big Game Deep Fishing

A very straight forward game. I like that about it. The ability to look deep ahead in the game is interesting. If I have any complaint it may be that there isn’t enough of a twist to the game. I think that this game has the kind of simple card game appeal to actually see some play.

The Big One:

This is my game. It is a bit sloppy, but I like games where you get to discard and replace cards.

Hook and Sinker:

Here is another game that has lots of ideas in it, some of them very good, but there seems to be a bit much going on here. Three special ability cards may be a bit much, I think that just the Aces and Two’s would suffice, the same goes with the “feeding frenzy” round. I do like the ability of the 2 to play as a low trump.

SpadeFish:

I think that this is a cool little game. Simple with a single good twist. The mechanic of highest without going over is something that you don’t see in many games and I think that it would make for some interesting play. Shooting the Moon is also a fun addition to most games.

Go Fish:

This game is unique as it is almost more of a German style game than a traditional card game. It is an interesting take on the challenge. I don’t think that this is a trick taking game however. I think that this game might have an interesting flow to it, of trading your various lures back and forth. Without playing it I think that this game might have the ability to spiral out of control with deviant strategies.

Fishing Quota:
This is a nice take on the trick taking game. I like how you have to take many tricks in your short suits and few in your big suits, that makes a nice tension. This game doesn’t feel as intuitive (perhaps read intuitive as familiar) to me as do some of the other games.

Drywater River Fishing Competition

Another good little trick taking game. Pretty straight forward except in the scoring which is nice. Picking and choosing what tricks you fight for is neat, trying to build a good set is as important as volume. Again we have the issue of remembering how those unique sets score.

It Was this Big

The bidding style of this game fits the boasting and bragging theme. As is the peeking at the fish in the pond mechanism, which can make for a little bluffing in the first few rounds.

Lunker

This game has some great Ideas, it does scream to be pared down however. The three specialized decks require a lot of maintenance. (Again here the possibility of printing custom decks with a fishy theme would be both visually satisfying and help clarify the roles of the multiple decks in a way that a standard deck can’t)

I like the bite range idea, and the “predicting and controlling trends” aspect is very cool, especially I think this is the juicy bit of the game that needs to be cultivated. I think that perhaps having the hand go 2 times around instead of once might help the feel of the mechanism, at least in a game with fewer teams.

The scoring I could do without, the catching fish section is interesting but I think it is chaff as well. The streamlined variation is probably the better of the two.

Pt314
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

I really liked the entries we got on this one.

When I thought trick-taking game, the first one that came to my mind was hearts, which is one of my favorite card games.
Thats why in my Spadefish game I had a suit that you don't want unless you are going to shoot the moon :) My idea of closest without going over seemed like it would make the gameplay drastically different.

I liked the mechanics of Bait and Tackle quite a bit, I liked how I could understand the rules the first time through, and with the 4 different tools to spice it up.

I think I am going to test out a bunch of these games and see how they work in real life.

DanogNellows
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Quote:
I like that the complex odd/even red/black aspects of the different fish allow you to better tailor your bait to your fish and therefore help you make the best hand. However I also find it an annoying aspect to remember.

Yeah it was annoying to remember. While playtesting, when the fish were
revealed I had to have one of the other players call out what each fish was looking for, so everyone including the designer(me!) were clear on
what was expected and I still made lots of misplays!

I think if i was to play this again, I would mark the fish with codes such
LRE for low red even cards. So there were no mistakes.
I imagine if it was a production game you could have the graphic be
a small red fish to give some extra indication. Maybe looking at you so you
could see both eyes for even and a side view with one eye showing for
odd cards.

Anyway good contest.

btw I also played Horoku's Fly vs Fly and felt it actually played well
in real life.

Dn

congrats to the winners and look forward to September's contest!

DavemanUK
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thanks

Jpwoo wrote:

Big Game Deep Fishing

A very straight forward game. I like that about it. The ability to look deep ahead in the game is interesting. If I have any complaint it may be that there isn’t enough of a twist to the game. I think that this game has the kind of simple card game appeal to actually see some play.

Thanks jpwoo, your critique is appreciated, with congrats to the winners. I will prototype my entry (based on Taj Mahal) to our London club with just one tweak (reward the lowest bidder by letting them play last in the next round).

Dave.

Yogurt
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Congrats to Doho! He leapt ahead of us all. Can't beat the Vegas guy when it comes to card games, I guess!

Here are my thoughts on this month's challenge.

I agree with Horuku that many games didn't have something I'd recognize as trick-taking. There might be something close, but often the "winner take all" component was missing or the value of the trick would have nothing to do with the cards played. I rewarded entries that managed to share my possibly idiosyncratic view of trick-taking and capture the feel of a fishing tournament too.

As an entrant, I found it to be a challenging Showdown, because there frankly isn't much about fishing tournaments that feels like trick-taking. Anglers are rarely in direct competition with each other during the event itself.

However, the freedom to skip the art was a great relief.

On to the games!

PIROGUE. What a great game: rich original theme; full of clever ideas. Owes a lot to cribbage, of course. The "Tag and Release" rule is new to me though, and what agony it could cause partners.

This game did not receive a vote from me because it massively exceeded the length restriction.

The competition between team and individual victories could lead to some metagame stress: "I'm not playing with Bill! He always goes for the solo win." Family peace variant: Individuals who score 60 trigger a team win.

KING FISH (1 vote). Simple rules. Knowing what other people have in their hand, because of the tacklebox, adds a twist to the game. (My memory is so poor, I'd collapse.) Conflicts over the simultaneously-picked bait/suit might be random enough to be frustrating; it reminded me of Pirate's Cove. This is one of the games that was missing the winner-take-all element. There are tricks, but no one takes all the cards.

BAIT AND TACKLE. Traditional card games could use more special power cards, so I was glad to see that. The game itself is a little too straightforward for me. I did like the fact that red and black score differently.

FLY VS FLY. I had a hard time finding the core game in here with all the preliminaries and odd theme. I would have added this line near the top: "Players who capture lead are the only ones who earn points when winning a trick; they can also change the direction of play." Flow control was my favourite part of this game.

I worry that since scoring and control are based on the same thing, high cards, the initial luck of the deal could be overwhelming.

GREAT LAKES FISH OUT (3 votes). Finally, a game that rewards fishing to extinction! This was one of my favourites, because of its simple rules that promise complex consequences. But I only ranked it second, because as the designer notes, this is not really a trick taking game.

JACK (DEMPSEY)'S OR BETTER. This seems to be a plain old outguessing game. Players don't seem to have a chance to react to other players. The trick-taking aspect was thin.

BIG GAME DEEP FISHING. This one needed more twists to stand out.

THE BIG ONE. I couldn't determine the strategy in this one. I did like the gain-a-card bonus a lot. Thematically, this isn't a professional fishing tournament and even with the given the theme, I'm not sure what our cards represent. Playing for penalties is a fun idea. I haven't played Bloody Knuckles for almost twenty years...

HOOK AND SINKER (4 votes). Although this wouldn't be my first pick to play from the entries this month, it was the one that I thought met the requirements best, effectively blending trick-taking and fishing contests, spiced with unusual trump effects and the special "feeding frenzy" round. I don't think I like the idea that the eldest card takes a tie; that seems to reduce risk and tension. What does bidding represent?

SPADEFISH. I was hoping for a game with more strategy. Also, tournament scoring usually rewards catching the best fish, not the most, so the theme had a weird feel, especially with the hearts-like "going for them all" rule.

GO FISH! Another one that pushed my apparently narrow definition of a trick-taking game. It sounded interesting, but I couldn't get a firm grip on how it would play. Thematically, it didn't make sense to me that successes at different times would improve the quality of your fish.

FISHING QUOTA (1 vote). This seemed promising, but I wish I were better at visualizing the game because I'm not sure it would work. I didn't have time to test it. I assume the quota cards are face up, so you can work to screw your opponents? Cheated the theme a bit.

DRYWATER RIVER FISHING COMPETITION. The play here was too straightforward for me. I also think that if tricks are going to have different values, the value should relate to the cards played.

IT WAS THIS BIG (1 vote). An interesting game, although weak on the trick-taking. It actually feels like a eurogame I've played, but I can't put my finger on which one. Maybe the game is simply Knizia-ish, with players each having a limited pool of bids.

LUNKER. This was my game. I'm fond of the shifting range of valuable valuable cards ("bites"). I also like the idea of scoring the most-played trick, although it would work better with 6+ players, and could leave too much power in the final player's hand.

But then I couldn't leave well enough alone, could I? Drawing from the BASS DECK would probably slow the game down too much, and complicates the game, so I think I'd eliminate it if I continued to work on this one. I'd to have work Ole Grandad into the main game somehow, though, or I'd miss him. Also, I'd have to restrict the weather-deck changing cards to just red 2s or something. It would happen too often otherwise.

Jpwoo
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Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Nice cirtiques Yogurt, I found it interesting that you disliked the very things that I looked for in a game, simplicity vs complexity.

Quote:
THE BIG ONE. I couldn't determine the strategy in this one. I did like the gain-a-card bonus a lot. Thematically, this isn't a professional fishing tournament and even with the given the theme, I'm not sure what our cards represent. Playing for penalties is a fun idea. I haven't played Bloody Knuckles for almost twenty years...

I was designing this to be a low strategy type game, the kind that I played all the time in studyhall in high school. Somthing along the lines of cucumber or bullshit. This game is 90 percent luck. the only choices you have are what cards you throw back. It needs a lot of work. (which it won't get, I'm throwing this fish back!)

Yogurt
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Jpwoo wrote:
I found it interesting that you disliked the very things that I looked for in a game, simplicity vs complexity.

Well, in theory, I totally agree with your philosophy that card games could be simple, smooth as river stones. That's one of the reasons I like Fish Out so much.

However, my own designs and my fandom for games like Pirogue show that my revealed preference is actually for games jam-packed with ideas -- complexity and comprehension and maybe playability be damned. :)

It's something maybe I should work on.

When I said some games were too straightforward, I didn't mean too simple. I mostly meant too traditional -- they didn't have any twist that would stand out in my mind or make me choose them over euchre.

A game with two rules would be fine by me, as long as one made me take a step back and say wow.

(I do want some room for strategy though.)

bluesea
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Ok, here are my reviews. The basis for my votes were three-fold: complexity, potential development, and theme. I was looking for a semi-complex to complex game with a good theme. Being new to board games, but an old hat at card games, I had high expectations for the games. I play games like pinochle, cribbage, and bridge, so games based on hearts and spades don’t interest me very much. The latter are fun sometimes, if there is not a lot of time to play, but I grew up playing cards with my grandfather for hours at a time, so I like games had to have some potential for skillful play.

Than being said, I think that there were a bunch of good games here and on the comments…

PIROGUE.
My game, which as stated previously, and quoting yogurt, “massively exceeded the length restriction.” Fair enough. Next time I will remember rule number one!
I would (read: my ego would), though, be curious to know how many votes I did NOT receive just for this reason. This was the first game ever that I put down on paper, so I was a bit nervous, especially as it was to be submitted to such a passionate group of designers.

My goal was to capture the feeling of playing a game all day with my grandfather. If there is such a thing as a grandmaster of pinochle or cribbage, my grandfather was it. (Seriously…absolutely amazing). And this game was homage to him, on one side, and on the other side a big shout out to my other grandfather who loved to fish big game fish in Florida.

Inspiration aside, here is my critique of the game:

Good: I like the theme that I developed very much. I love the name Pirogue: Trinidad and Tobago Tarpon Tournament. It conjures a nice scene for the play. Though it may sound a bit complex on first read, after a few practice rounds, the trick-taking follows in turn fluidly. And during the trick taking, it really does a lot of what I was trying to do. People get upset when they realize they could have set the HOOK card, and missed it, but without opportunity for mistakes, there is no opportunity for skill. It seems you really have to pay attention to the last four or five tricks when the card selection is thinned.
Tension is created if someone gets too far ahead, which I like. There is a perpetual trump, or master card, in the aces (SHARKS), and it works well. The face cards serve as good TARPON cards thematically and practically, and the Tag and Release rule can make or break a hand! I really like this rule. Before the T&R rule, it seemed that everyone got about the same amount of TARPON each round, which was pointless.

Bad: The Meld is very muddy and needs a lot fine tuning. I did want a cribbage-like meld system that also effected how cards were played and taken during trick taking. For instance, the strategy seems to be to hold on to the 2’s as long as possible, as the potential for higher melds are associated with these cards. So this means giving up a higher card in favor of holding on to the 2. Not sure if this is so bad, but needs to be looked at. It seems that one person gets a significantly larger amount of cards each round. Again, not sure of this is good or bad, but interestingly, the person who gets the most tricks, usually doesn’t get the most TARPON cards, at least that seems to be the pattern up to now, so in the end it may be balanced. Also, not sure if the 50-60 point pegging really is calibrated. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This will go hand-in-hand with meld development.

Future Development: Some changes in the melding are a priority, and some new variants. Possibly a rule that says that for a team victory both players must be fully pegged as well as their Pirogue might be good. Also, some special cards designed for the game, which will include a 1 thru 10 plus sharks and tarpons. Adding the 1 value card might help with the melding or even make the HOOK card come into play more. It would be good if more tricks were taken with the HOOK card, just to stay on theme.

KING FISH : The image that came to mind for this game was a bunch of kids fishing in a pond with bamboo poles. I really like the ‘casting’ effect of the fishing line. Not sure if this is a trick taking game though. I think with some development this game could be reworked and molded into a good fly-fishing game. For being so simple, there is a lot to work with here.

BAIT AND TACKLE: I liked the idea of tools, but not that they were called tools. I don’t associate the word tools with fishing. Better to just call them tackle. Just reading it, it seemed on first thought that the game could get caught in loop. If a player has all four high cards of one suit, can he lose? Why red 3 and black 2 points?

FLY VS FLY: I liked the theme of this game, but other than the first paragraph I didn’t see the theme come out a lot. Also liked the fish limit idea and mechanic. The switching between fish and fisherman might be a bit confusing, but I still think that there is something here to be developed with the flow shifting idea. This could be very interesting for game play.

GREAT LAKES FISH OUT: I had a hard time at first understanding the card play here. And if players don’t have to follow suit, is that a trick? Not sure what the passing of cards does here or how it is tied into the theme. I like the idea of stocking a lake and the card play after thinking about it some, though very simple, could be potentially complex, but possibly very random or chaotic at the onset. Maybe a better opening needs to be developed. I think that bidding would help this game a lot.

JACK (DEMPSEY)'S OR BETTER: My favorite thing in this game was the lines get tangled rule. Very clever. This is a simple game that does need a bit more teeth, but the core game is good. I don’t like the poker scoring aspect, but poker may have a place here. I think that instead of just one card being the bait, multiple cards could be bait. So that bait is built up as poker hands. For example, a Jack fish prefers a red run of 2-3-4-5-6, and an ace fish prefers four of a kind. There would need to be some player interaction to allow each player to steal cards from the others. Possibly building the poker hands from tricks taken. The bobbers are fun. I see potential here.

BIG GAME DEEP FISHING: Obviously I like the idea for this game! Scoring for quantity and weight is a very good way to model a fishing tournament. I would have gone one further and add the biggest fish caught as well (maybe a joker). But this scoring seems more in line for a bass tournament than a game fishing tournament. The association of the cards with the types of fish would be a bit taxing.

THE BIG ONE: I agree that this is not a professional fishing tournament. The ace of spades as the big one is nice move. And, well, it’s a gambling games for spankings, so what could be bad about that. The bonus card rule is good, but how to keep track of it?

HOOK AND SINKER : A well thought out game, which suffers, like my game, with too many ideas. But this is good for a first pass as it’s easier to remove than add. The feeding frenzy round can go, or be a bit limited. It may unbalance the rest of the game.

SPADEFISH: This game is very similar to hearts, scoring-wise. It is not really a trick taking game. But I do like the way the game unfolds, though I would change it so that the person who plays the fish card calls out only the suit or at least the color. Then the play must follow some sort of prescribed order. So now you must guess (or count cards) as to what ‘red’ suit or ‘black’ the fish is. Just a suggestion.

GO FISH!: Very nice game, but not really trick taking. A suggestion for game play: Say two players play the same card (2 aces, say) then those two lines tangle like in JACK (DEMPSEY)'S OR BETTER. I think this is a great idea to ‘borrow’, and would work well in your game and make for some serious tension. I like the scoring (melding) of what is caught: very simple, very good.

FISHING QUOTA: I thought in real life that there are penalties for exceeding fishing quotas. There should be a way to penalize a player who can take an extra trick, if this is the theme of the game. The blank card idea leaves me wanting more of a penalty. Maybe the player just folds when his quota I met, but that’s not a real penalty. It needs to come off the score.
I think that there are some good ideas here. The scoring is unique, but how it ties in with the ordering of the fish cards seems a bit forced. Maybe the player can guess at how much of a certain suit they will get, not to exceed a maximum, and this is their goal. The theme though does want a bit for a fishing tournament. I would like to see another iteration of this game as the scoring rules offer potential here as a card game.

DRYWATER RIVER FISHING COMPETITION. This game is itself a bit dry. Sorry. But it really needs some twists and turns to give some tension and application of skill.

IT WAS THIS BIG: As a frequent Cedar Point visitor in my youth, I like the Sandusky reference! The game, though is really not trick taking, but I do think that it is a clever game that would be fun to play. I think that there should be a little bit more hidden information so that maybe the fish isn’t just one card, but a combination of two cards (a head and a tail) so that players have to work a bit harder to see what the fish is.

LUNKER: This was my favorite game. I thought it was very well organized as a game and an entry. The theme was solid and the card playing parameter felt very fun and original. The weather shift is a great way thematically to forward the card play. And the trick winning rule of the highest majority card is outstanding. As we saw in another game, the ace of spades makes a fine Lunker!
My criticisms of the game and the things I want to see worked out for the future development of this game are the tie breaking rules. Too messy right now. Maybe the two flipped cards help to offer suit rank precedence (after all it’s free information sitting right there!) The scoring seems a bit too big. I think for people to grasp the scoring, it should me normalized to much smaller numbers. I would also change the hands so that there are Local (1X for 3 hands), Regional (2X for 3 hands), and National (3X for 3 hands).

DanogNellows
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Joined: 08/02/2008
Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Quote:
JACK (DEMPSEY)'S OR BETTER. This seems to be a plain old outguessing game. Players don't seem to have a chance to react to other players. The trick-taking aspect was thin.

Bold added by me.
I find this interesting because its not thin, it's not there period!
I had posted in the comments on this challenge that my entry had no trick taking aspects to it. Yet I ended with more votes than other entries that
had good or at least some trick taking parts to it.

I fully expected to receive 0 votes, I just enjoyed the game I came up
with and posted what I had.

I find the requirements to voting ratio intriguing. :)

Scurra
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Joined: 09/11/2008
Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Regarding Go Fish!

When I submitted my entry, I had a brief exchange with Bryk over whether it actually qualified as a trick-taking game at all. I wasn't at all surprised to see that other people had the same opinion; I was particularly concerned when yogurt's tight definition popped up in the original discussion thread.

Bryk's original comment read: "I would consider the following to be a trick-taking game ... a card game in which players publicly present 1 or more cards, and through some calculation or other criteria, 1 player "wins" all of those cards played ("takes the trick"). "

My defence ran as follows. In my game, players certainly publicly present cards (at two different points!), and, through calculation, win cards. Where we differ is in what the "trick" actually consists of, but in almost all cases it will consist of at least some cards contributed by the other players from their "hand", and only one player can win the "trick".

It's true that only a small proportion of the cards won in the game are necessarily in direct comptition with the other players (although I actually thought that was slightly more in keeping with the theme - even if the rest of it clearly wasn't ;-) I would also note that nowhere in the original spec. does it say that the game is only about trick-taking, merely that this was the genre.

And at least a couple of other entries (including the winner!) stretched the definition a little too, but I realised that I would probably be penalised badly for such an extreme approach. Having said that, I am also glad to read the positive comments about the more unusual aspects of the game: one of the things I love about the GDS contests is that incentive to see where you can take an apparently rigid format.

I know that most of my "pure" card game designs have crossed all sorts of boundaries (much as I appreciate the work of David Parlett and pagat.com in defining card game types, this can be something of an impediment to designers when trying to do something different with a traditional deck) and this was no exception.

(And yes, Jpwoo, I too suspect that the game might break under certain strategies; I have to confess that I didn't put in a lot of time on this one so I was going on instinct more than anything else.)

Thanks for the comments, congrats to the winners and see you again in September.

Hamumu
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Critique the July 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

I'm back! Briefly. I'm incredibly busy.

bluesea wrote:

PIROGUE: I would (read: my ego would), though, be curious to know how many votes I did NOT receive just for this reason.

BAIT AND TACKLE: I liked the idea of tools, but not that they were called tools. I don’t associate the word tools with fishing. Better to just call them tackle. Just reading it, it seemed on first thought that the game could get caught in loop. If a player has all four high cards of one suit, can he lose? Why red 3 and black 2 points?

PIROGUE: I didn't even read it. With 15 entries, and knowing I wouldn't give out points to one that broke the rules, I couldn't spare the time. So I am one vote you didn't get for going over. Hey, I'm a game designer, I take rules seriously. Actually I could barely spare the time to read any of them! Or enter! But I did do both! Hooray for 2nd place, I'm really pleased and surprised.

BAIT AND TACKLE: Red is worth more than black because red tools are better - you have to sacrifice more point value to use them. It also adds a little twitch to the game - you're gonna fight much harder to win a red trick, as it will tend to be worth (#players) more points than a black trick (but not always, since after a couple rounds, somebody won't be able to play the suit anymore, and it gets all mixed up). This makes tools more important, since you won't always have the cards to take red tricks. It's a simple game though, nothing too deep. I'm not sure why a player with high cards in one suit would have any major advantage. The fish could be any of the four suits (drawn randomly), so there's only a 25% chance that any given trick is guaranteed to be his, and even then, he can be trumped through the use of tools (diamond or heart could beat it, depending on factors. Club could beat the last of his 4 high cards). I didn't like the word tools either. It didn't seem right to call a diamond, guts, a club, and a shovel "tackle". But then again, I don't know what the word tackle means outside of football. There are definitely no loops in the game, though, so I think you misunderstood the rules. It will end in exactly 12 turns no matter what (used tools are discarded, and you can't play cards out of your catch, only from your original 12-card hand).

I found it impossible really to judge this contest. Partly, I've been out of this a long time, but mainly, plain card games aren't something I can get a grip on in a quick reading. I had to really picture them, and I think I didn't really understand them fully. I'd have to play them to truly judge. But I agree with other people in that I felt that almost none of the entries were 'trick-taking' by my standards. I checked the wikipedia though, and it was much looser than what I had imagined. I thought the word "trick" in cards had a specific meaning of "all the cards played this round", so taking a trick had to do that. So I let that slide and just went with what I liked. It still bothered me though when the games had everyone lay down cards and the winner takes one specific card. Just sticks in my craw.

I have no critiques, but one of my favorites was probably the least trick-based of all - "It Was This Big". I really like bluffing games! I also liked the, I think, two different entries that had poker involved in the scoring mechanisms. And the one about stocking the lake. Those were the ones that caught my designybone. #2, 5, 13, and 14 got my points, though I certainly couldn't tell you good reasons at this point. I don't remember the details of a single entry other than my own! That's the trouble with abstract cards.

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