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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

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Brykovian
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Use this thread to give critiques and make comments about the entries posted for the June 2006 GDS Challenge, "Growing Season" (found here).

-Bryk

Gogolski
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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Looks like it's going to be hard to vote, I realy like some of the games presented...

Also, while reading through the games, I noticed that I must have somehow deleted half a sentence in the scoring part of my game... (Shame...)

Cheese!

DavemanUK
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Revisions

I'm with you Gogolski, while reading through the entries I noticed that I somehow _added_ half a sentence extra to the setup phase of my game *very big shame*.

With the rise in quality diagrams will we soon be able to recognise each others entries by them? ;-)

Dave.

Yogurt
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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

You know, in our globalized, commodified world, I think we've lost the connection to the planet that comes from waking with the birds, breathing in the loamy scent of the soil, and seeing the sun rise over your very own 5x5 grid.

Yogurt

DanogNellows
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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

I was actually excited enough to make a prototype and try it out.
And I too now discover that I left some key thoughts out. And realized
different/better ways of doing things. Oh well, it went well for a prototype
play session and I think I might develop it further.

Fun contest.

DN

Nestalawe
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Re: Revisions

DavemanUK wrote:

With the rise in quality diagrams will we soon be able to recognise each others entries by them? ;-)

Yeah I can see that happening! I don't think it will be too much of a problem for the 'Real' artists, as they can change their styles, but for plebs like me, well, it won't take long for people to pick mine out and veer away ;)

DanogNellows wrote:
I was actually excited enough to make a prototype and try it out.
And I too now discover that I left some key thoughts out. And realized
different/better ways of doing things. Oh well, it went well for a prototype
play session and I think I might develop it further.

My game was simple enough to do the same, so I was able to get some solo playtesting sessions in before the deadline, which helped clean up the game a lot. Now I'm in the process of spicing it up a bit and adding the next level if gloss in preparation to play it with Real People ;) Too few words to outline the 'complete' game for the competition :(

OutsideLime
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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

I've now written critiques for 12 of the fifteen entries... I'll post 'em after the results come out, of course, but I wanted to say that there are some really decent concepts and mechanics mixed in there. Sometimes entrants went for an unusual framework to help create an innovative design, but sometimes the straight-arrow farming theme was able to work very well also. I have never done a real entry-by-entry crit before, and doing this has really helped me examine each game and think about how it might play out, envision how the elements might work together to form that obscure grail we call "gameplay". Not all of the entries are great. Some of them drag under the intrinsic boring-ness of farming as a theme. But most of them have at least one interesting idea that could be isolated and used in future designs.

Also, I am realizing that a great idea explained poorly will fare much worse in my voting than a mediocre idea explained well. I try to see through obscurity to understand people's intentions (and sometimes I can feel the 800-word limit making sentences kinda strange) but it's not always possible, and that will sometimes mess with an entry's chances.

The lesson is, basically: Clarity is key. If I can understand the basics of the game in a single readthrough and on a review even start to get an idea of how the rules will create certain undetailed interactions between players, it's a good bet for some points.

~Josh

Ska_baron
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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

I've sifted through half and agree that the ideas/mechanics are solid in all the entries thus far. I know I'll be looking forward to any comments from the reigning champion, Outside "One Tough Mutha" Lime.

Great jobs everyone!

Jpwoo
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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Quote:
I have never done a real entry-by-entry crit before, and doing this has really helped me examine each game and think about how it might play out, envision how the elements might work together to form that obscure grail we call "gameplay".

Quote:
I try to see through obscurity to understand people's intentions (and sometimes I can feel the 800-word limit making sentences kinda strange) but it's not always possible, and that will sometimes mess with an entry's chances.

I am at #11, and I think that doing the crits before voting has helped me place my votes better. Just on a plain read through I often miss the whole point of a game. Taking the time to examine the games helps cut through some of the obscurity. I know that there are at least two games that are getting votes from me that wouldn't have if I wasn't taking the time to critique. And on the other hand, there are games that look good at first glance and fall apart a bit with a critical eye.

I am not exactly sure what the GDS tests, creativity, concise writing, design fundamentals, all of these? But I really enjoy seeing the variety of games and mechanics available. All these posts about people stealing other peoples ideas should be directed to this sub forum. Here are 15 games all different, but all with the same theme and a shared mechanic.

DarkDream
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Voting Criteria

Maybe I haven't noticed it, but I think if people are going to vote then there needs to be a brief explaination on the criteria that people should take in to account when voting.

I think that would help a lot.

For example maybe the categories would be:

- How close the game fits the theme
- How creative it is
- Mechanics seems to work

and so on.

Just a suggestion.

--DarkDream

doho123
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Re: Voting Criteria

DarkDream wrote:
Maybe I haven't noticed it, but I think if people are going to vote then there needs to be a brief explaination on the criteria that people should take in to account when voting.

Well, it's sort of open to what your criteria is. Some people are strict within-the-criteria voters, others are voting for the best game with little regard to the criteria; most fall somewhere in between. However, I think everyone will agree that being able to understand what is going on with the game is important, and with the tight word count, vast epics probably aren't very doable (believe me, I've tried that route).

My criteria is sort of based on "glimmers of potential" for a good game, or interesting gimmicks. I don't really care if something seems like it could be unbalanced or not, as I make the assumption that with a bunch of real playtesting, a lot of the unbalancing can be worked out. I am not so much interested in detailed component lists or hard and fast rules, but a quick overview of the game.

I also tend to generally immediately disqualify games if the OBVIOUSLY don't meet the criteria so I can better focus my limited time on the other games Word count is the most obvious thing you can break.

Entry #4 is a good example. Here's a game that's about 100 words over the limit. This game could EASILY meet the 800 word limit with some simple editting, but I'd rather concentrate my time and effort on the other games that met this criteria. Sadly, with another edit pass, this game could easily fit into the word count.

Ways to reduce the word count of this game:

Get rid of the game summary, that's 68 words right there.
Combine the component list with the setup.

There's many places for tighening things up, such as:
Remove "Randomly determine the start-player. Play proceeds clockwise. The last player in a season is the first player next season. " as there is nothing here that is truly unique and of great importance to understanding the game.

Change "The game is played in 20 seasons. " to ""The game has 20 seasons. "

Remove:"Each season, has 7 to 11 phases. " as those phases are all listed a little bit later in the entry.

Remove:"of spring-season." from each phase list.

and so on, and so on.

Of course, now that I'm taking time editting down the entry, I'm spending more time on it, I probably would've given this entry a few votes.

Yogurt
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Re: Voting Criteria

doho123 wrote:
vast epics probably aren't very doable

I was thinking that epics might be an interesting challenge for the GDS: describe a game that would take 3 hours or more to play. Then we'd definitely see 800 word overviews rather than compact rulesets.

Yogurt

Brykovian
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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Josh (OutsideLime) asked me to post his critiques on his behalf, since he figured to be away from his computer for a while.

So without further ado ...
~~~~~~~~~~

OUTSIDE LIME'S REVIEWS

1. Fierce Farmers Fight For Farmland

Straight-arrow theme. Crop Rotation mechanic is similar to my own, with the absorbing/depostiting mechanic. The fact that there is an ideal cycle means that players might end up with less choice in their farming routine and end up in a prescribed loop. Lots of components. This person has done their research… I get the impression that this is more of a farming simulator than a game… not sure I’d enjoy playing this… tons of mechanics and phases crammed into one game. The end-of-game feels a bit too arbitrary and abrupt.

2. HEDGE WIZARDRY

My entry. It’s gold, Jerry…GOLD. Ahh, if only I’d had the time to make some graphics…

3. Seeds Of War

Creative theme where the grown crops are the troops that wage the area-control contest. Use of minerals as fuel for extra moves is a nice twist… I can’t find a real crop-rotation element here, players can grow different crops/troops yes, but it’s not tied in to the fields, specifically. I love the Almanac idea as VP-generator. I would like to see the Almanac as a book, somehow. The different crops seem quite unbalanced… zucchinis might have a significant advantage.

4. Manure!

Points off for length. Immediately made up for by the manure-chits! Excellent idea of using the seasons as the motivator for crop rotation. I like that the seasons have different phases, but was a bit disappointed when I looked closer and noticed that spring/fall are identical, and winter/summer are, too. I would have liked a true cycle, not a back n’ forth alternation. Overall it seems too phase-y for me to get an idea of how gameplay would actually go, and scoring is a bit tough to understand.

5. Plant, you bastard!

Theme has no flair but it suits this game. Seems to be a quick and straightforward almost-abstract game. Satisfies all of the challenge requirements handily. There doesn’t seem to be a mention how players can recognize fields as their own, but that would be easily managed by colouring the tiles they get at the game start. Should create a nice game flow as players try to get their corn on the board later in the game. I worry that sheep can’t be replaced… a player’s entire game can be ruined by a well-placed sheep played near endgame. Still, a nice design that I’d like to play.

6. THE LAND PASSES DOWN

The theme is well-researched and there are some good ideas in here. Forest degradation and erosion are nice as ongoing elements to be aware of. Too much going on in general. I cannot really understand the game. Very rulesy. I do like the idea that players can propose laws as a group to control others’ strategies, and then that players can choose to ignore laws by building strongmen. Cool idea that could be the focus of a simpler game design.

7. The Wheat and the Weeds

Points off for length. I’m a bit murky on the function of seeds, and what they are, since they’re not noted on the component list.Very interesting angle on crop rotation… the players don’t have to rotate to grow different crops, they rotate to “capture” a field. Sweet! You kind of lost me on the overgrowth note. Love the weed patch as a common enemy, and how it spreads. Maybe a bit too brain-busting overall. Solid entry altogether but needs some balancing and general refinement.

8. APOCALYPSE FARMERS

Kooky theme and clever writing is interesting but struggles against the farming mechanics. I can’t reconcile the “planting” of zombies and bunnies…. There are too many exception rules here to easily grasp how the game would work. I believe that this game could be fun when played, but it doesn’t describe very well. Most of the component theme is counter-intuitive to the actual component function. Bunnies eat zombies?

9. You Reap What You (and others) Sow

I like that the bean colours intuitively match the crop type. Blue blueberries, etc. I envision the beans like little jelly-bellys in a cloth drawstring bag… very theme-y and immersive. Sudden arbitrary game end turns me off – what if the multicoloured bean is drawn in the first round? …. Infestations: I would leave the beetle larvae on the board to signify that a plot is infested. I am not exactly sure how scoring works. This game has potential but needs to be explained better.

10. Irrigation Aggravation

Pure farming theme, well presented and explained. The spring Action sequence is interesting. Big focus on the seasonal rotation handled better than anyone else who attempted it. Different seasons have completely different actions and grant a farmerly cyclical feel to the game. I like many of the elements here, specifically the flooding mechanic to mess with other players, the soil-improvement-for-future-turns bit, and the general minding your own business/keeping an eye on the other guy ethic that I think would develop. Tight game, well-presented.

11. Farm Feud

I like the tone of the game overall… I get a Looney Tunes vibe off this. The purchasable upgrades seem very unbalanced to me, but that could be fine-tuned if this game was developed further. I fear that gameplay would progress very slowly, since each player can only plant 1 cube in a turn… at the fastest, a player must go 8 turns of absolutely focused farming before they could purchase a single upgrade. The shovel/rifle tokens are superfluous to the actions they allow…. and I’m not sure that blowing the other player’s head off jibes with the general effort to out-cultivate him. Overall good, but needs work and playtesting.

12. Hoe! Hoe! Hoe! Migrant Green Giant!

The Rain Track is a nice innovative feature. I couldn’t find any mention of how players indicate their Selected Crop for the round. The inverted-value crop-rotation technique is a nice twist that nobody else cam up with. The harshness of the punishment for over-hiring means that it will probably never happen. The “area-control” requirement seems to have been sidestepped a bit – players do allocate funds to purchase new parcels, but without much else to spend Farmbucks on, it seems to me like all players will max out their spending on new parcels early and the area-control element will even out to be a non-issue. Does parcel location matter?

13. Hick’onomics

Finally a contraband crops game. I really thought we’d see some “drug dealers proctecting their coca plantations” themes, but nope. Excellent innovative theme and tone. Area Control doesn’t seem to happen in any important way, although it shows up abstractly when bidding to control markets… which themselves should be appropriately hicksville-ish to maintain theme. The two seasonal phases mean that different crops will be grown by players, but since there is only two planting rounds I don’t know if it qualifies as crop rotation, really. This seems like it would be a fun game with good player interaction...

14. Kaiso

I like this game a lot. It has a ton of stuff crammed into it… maybe too much, mind you… and most of it is really good. I’m not sure how boats and presses differ from each other at all. Family building seems rather tough. I’m not sure that the fence-building really amounts to area control since the growing area is so constrained… will players usually just fill in their rows in orderly fashion? I would have made “who has the most infrastructure” the 5th VP criteria instead of classifying it as a “tiebreaker”, which amounts to the same thing. The nori dice are great – simple and visually striking with a 1/3 – 2/3 split… interesting, and they serve as markers too! The theme is solid throughout but at a fine level of abstraction. How many years are there? The patience implied by the scale of time in the games adds a nice calming flavour to this that really works. Crop rotation presumably dependent on market demand is unique in this showdown. I’ve had a lot to say about this game because I’m interested in seeing it develop. Do it!

15. Yugoslavia

There’s a bit of confusion in the description about face-up and face-down, or I am reading something wrong. The bidding system is very harsh but appropriate. It seems like it will take players quite a long time to get up and running… With 4 players it will be at least 2 rounds before everyone is guaranteed one field… should each player start with 1 or two? On a production note… you don’t need to make the board out of tiles… it could be a normal board with “soil quality” chits face-down. You’ve got the active player disturbing the board every round to peek at fields, stuff is bound to be knocked around. All three of “area control”, “crop rotation”, and “messing with your neighbor” are pretty light or nonexistent in this entry.

Phew!

Awesome work my friends!

~Josh

Yogurt
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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Congratulation on the third victory in the row, Josh! I entered the showdown for the first time in ages to help stop your boastful ways, but I was helpless before this new Canadian juggernaut. :) Your game was tied for first in my picks.

...

My comments on the entries. I've starred them with my votes.

FFFFF. A straight-forward response to the challenge, which makes it difficult for this game to stand out. The direct attacks on other players could be frustrating if everyone gangs up.

Hedge Wizardry***. A great response to the challenge -- meeting the requirements in clear but unexpected ways. I like that farming is the means to an end, not an end in itself. The nutrients could be fiddly; this is certainly not a game for catowners. It might be interesting to allow players to harvest multiple crops on a space at once, in order to reward risky stockpiles that could be captured. Great title.

Seeds of War. The connection to farming was tenuous. Felt like it wanted to be a different game.

Manure. Trimming 100 words wouldn't have been that hard! I liked the idea that manure was bad in excess, but it seems only to be directly penalized through VP loss rather than having in-game effects.

Plant You Bastard. Too abstract for my tastes. I don't mind a pasted-on theme in a real game, but it seems like an easy out in the GDS. I laughed at the sheep gags.

The Land Passes Down. This was my game. Land use fascinates me, and I recently read Jared Diamond's book Collapse on the subject. By the time it came to post my game, I knew these were great weaknesses. Instead of responding to the challenge, I tried to make an epic farming Civ game that barely met even the generous interpretation of the requirements. There was too much going on, and I suspect my step-by-step presentation makes it hard to follow. I did try something new, which was spelling out the significance of specific rules. I'd like to see that catch on. There are some good ideas in here, but not for this showdown.

The Wheat and the Weeds. I only skimmed this one, due to the length. It seemed like it could easily have been shorter.

Apocalypse Farmers*. Entertaining theme. We all have fond kindergarten memories of planting zombie seeds in paper cups. Simple but effective combat mechanism. Feels like an abstract with some economy mixed in.

You Reap What You (and others) Sow. Needing exactly five players is a tricky target. I expected position in the grid or neighbouring plots to have some significance. The amount of counting could make this work better as a computer game. Is this basically a memory game? (Minor point: If so, how do you know when a cup has 5 beans?)

Irrigation Aggravation**. Great, but thematically, I'm not sure how you explain watering other people's fields in phase 1. Runoff is thematic though. Washing away nutrients would be interesting. I'd really like to play this game.

Farm Feud. The movement mechanism seemed unsatisfying and old-fashioned, especially since a bad draw can insantly lose the game for you.

Hoe! Hoe! Hoe! Migrant Green Giant!*** Much to like here. The crop rotation mechanic was my favourite of the showdown. The tradeoff between VP and the mechanism for earning VP makes for some tense decisions. The giants add some good press-your-luck elements, which I always like. The Rain mechanic reminds me of Amun-Re, a hard model to avoid in a farming game. Not a lot of player interaction. This entry was a good example of how to write a challenge entry: for example, saying "slightly reduced" rather than actual numbers; and drawing attention to important mechanics. I was surprised this was the only migrant worker game!

Hickonomics. Fun crops. Familiar game play: blind bidding, trading, some gotcha cards. Not a lot of agonizing decisions.

Kaiso*. A lovely original theme. This was the only game to use family, an important farming theme, and the war was a striking addition. Aside from theme, this felt very much like a standard "German" game and perhaps that familiarity kept it from being ranked higher for me. I also had trouble understanding the dice and harvesting. What do the colors signify? Are they different coloured dice or sides that vary in colour? Does it matter which dice come from where?

Yugoslavia. Original theme. The game needed more ways to interfere with other players. The auction mechanic was okay, but adding a twist to it would strengthen the game.

Jpwoo
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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Drat I didn't stop the Lime either, in fact I helped him along his way!

LIIIIMMMEEE!!!

I had originally voted for 7 games, but Bryk sent me a friendly reminder that we can only vote for 5! So Hedge wizards picked up another vote! Pesky! I would suggest that in the future when we have a bumper crop of games the voting restrictions loosen up, but that is another topic.

On to the Critiques:

Fierce Farmers Fight For Farmland

Alliterative title, good for GDS, makes the game stand out. Probably would be published under another name.

Has the straight up small time farmers theme, this is a good choice for the first game in the list, setting the standard. This game features the random game end after turn two. This could be a bit abrupt, but that is easy enough to fix by adding additional end game tokens.

This game makes the best use of realistic crop rotation I think. The way that the crops leave exactly what is needed for the next crop is clever. I looked for a little bit for ways to break the cycle down but I didn’t see anything obvious. With the perfect set up dictated this leaves little room for choice in what you plant. But it does make the auction aspect more interesting. I can’t help but think that there might be some way to cut the majority of the tokens out of the sequence and just reduce it down to the three crop types to speed play some.

The sequence of play seems to make sense. Plant crops. Manipulate the climate. Grow stuff. Take care of commerce and auctions. I can’t help but think that it might be good to know what the market is buying before you plant, drawing the tokens after the fact sort of puts you at the whim of chance. I’m also not exactly sure how to influence the winning condition of the most fields. I guess if you can buy lots of seed you can plant more and take more space up.

All in all a good start on a game. I think it could be trimmed and streamlined some. Crop rotation and messing with other players is covered, I’m still not sold on the area control aspect.

HEDGE WIZARDRY

I like the theme of this game, a stand out from the standard farming themes. Though there are no hedges involved. I also really like the name Lunk.

Rock paper scissors has been a much talked about mechanism around the bgdf lately, but I was surprised to see it here. It fits nicely giving players some nice choices. It also gives you the opportunity to lock out a field by putting one of each kind of lunk in it. If this is a two player game only then like Hex you are guaranteed to get a winner. If this was played with 3+ players there could be stalemates. I’m not really sure what the solution for this would be.

The nutrients give a nice forced crop rotation. Sort of like Usurppe (A game that I really want to play). Again here I could see a situation where a field could be rendered useless. I think that there needs to be a mechanism somewhere in the game to add resources without using a spell. Either a random seeding of cubes after X number of turns or letting players seed 1 nutrient as a free action.

A strong game with a unique theme and mechanics for this competition. Fits all the requirements nicely.

Seeds of War

The theme here is very thin. This seems to be a war game with a bit of a farm theme slipped cunningly over it. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like the game, It just doesn’t’ feel much like farming to me.

I like the bidding on your major crop/unit at the start of the game. I am not sure that the mechanism described works all that well. Let’s assume that the unit types are balanced, then I will just bid nothing and get whatever I get. If the units are unbalanced then things get a little more interesting. Rather than laying your bids on your choices I would like to see a simpler “high bid, first pick, second bid, second pick.” Everyone pays mechanism. The poster mentions Amun-re which I haven’t played so I might be missing something here.

I like the Lt farmer units. They give you something to protect other than your main farm. The fact that they don’t come back helps put pressure on to end the game.

I am a little confused about minerals in the fields. If you move your farmer into another player’s field you redistribute the resources in that field? Are resources kept on the board or in a resource pool that the player keeps?

The action and almanac cards could certainly be fun. Action cards provides surprises which are needed in an Add up and resolve combat mechanic. The almanac cards I think are very cool. Weird and surprising sources of VP is a neat idea. I think that maybe having more than 30 of these would be nice so experienced players will have a tougher time memorizing them.

I think this is an interesting war game, not as much a farming game. It fits the area control and messing with other players criteria. I’m not sure about the crop rotation though unless I missed something.

MANURE!

A straight forward farming theme with a fertilizer twist. Managing the dung is a nice difference from the resource types we have seen in many of the other games.

The large number of phases in each season is a bit daunting. Everything seems to make sense, cows breed in spring etc, different crops need to be planted and harvested in different seasons is nice. I am not sure how you could have stated all the actions so that they would be less intimidating, but that is more a rulebook issue than rules mechanics. (maybe little hearts in the season marker for times when cows look for love, a dollar sign for when you can buy land. Alternatively you could just set things like canals can only be dug in summer, making long term planning a bit more of a factor.

The fact that you can buy empty land hexes from your opponents is interesting, so that there is a definite incentive not to leave fields fallow. Though with all the cows moving about it would seem like a player would really have to make a mistake for this to happen. This also seems to be the main area of player interaction.

I like the simplicity of water+dung=profit.

The canals, digging and moving and such seems a little confusing to me without seeing it in action. The maneuvering as the game progresses is interesting, you will have go from expanding your farm and breeding lots of cows in the start, to thinning your herds and keeping your dung under control as the game end approaches.

This seems rather like a multiplayer solitaire to me. It hits the farm theme, and there are multiple crops. I am not sure how the planting harvesting thing works out, but there could be crop rotation opportunities presented there. I don’t see much of the crop rotation or messing with other players here. With the big vp value on fields there is some area control, certainly area investment.

Plant, you bastard!

The theme for this game fits perfectly with the requirements. Tenant farmers fighting for favor. This plays nicely to the area control and messing with others requirements.

This game is unique among the other games as it is a straight abstract. Almost like Blokus or Ingenious. It is possible that the tile balance might have to be adjusted, but the game itself seems like it would be entertaining and a brain burner. I like that sheep act as a null value wild card.

With the few rules it is hard to offer a deep critique on this game without playing it, but I like the feels of this type of abstract.

Fits the area control, the messing with neighbors, and the crop rotation as a mechanism. I really like this entry.

THE LAND PASSES DOWN

This entry has a unique theme of subsistence farmers just trying to survive. I think this is very evocative of real farming, looking for balance and struggling against the land itself.

This game is more of a sketch than a complete set of rules, but I think when a game has this much in it that only makes sense. Some things are vague but a general feeling for the game is easy enough to come by.

The tribulations are interesting, the farmers can see the writing on the wall and get a year to fix things, then they have to deal with the results. Perhaps having only 1 tribulation go through rather than 2 might be better.

The various actions are good. Using workers to clear fields plant crops, move stuff, hire goons, clear the land etc. Laws are interesting, and give a nice negotiation element to the game, though in a two player game this would be a bit extraneous. With all these various things going on, crops, the woods, the strongmen, the laws, balancing this game could be a nightmare.

Erosion is nice mechanism and seems to be at the heart of the game. It does require players to share farmsteads on the same tile to make it really interesting. In fact the whole game seems to teeter on players sharing tiles. If the players decide not to do this, or it doesn’t work out that way, then interaction is hurt some.

Just as a gut reaction It seems like there might be too much going on here. Too many non critical things interacting. Like the pasture or the hunting. Nobody is required to use the pasture or to hunt. The game might benefit both from simplicity and interaction by some paring down.

The game isn’t really about area control, but it close enough. There are plenty of opportunities to mess with other players via laws, strongmen, messing up the island, etc. Crop rotation is hinted at a couple of times, (risky mono crops, and replacing crops with bigger tiles) but it isn’t really explicitly stated. Soil quality depends more on forestation than crop rotation. All that said this is my prediction for a winner, and it gets one of my votes.

The Wheat and the Weeds

The theme of this game isn’t immediately apparent, it is mostly an abstract, or rather is almost an abstract. Players seem to be forces of nature growing wild patches of crops over the playing field.

The game has many aspects of an abstract, growing outward, over planting an opponents pieces. It does have some other aspects of a more themed game, like the crops having different stats. This is just personal preference here but I don’t like the combination of the two. I think if there were a standard set of attributes that all crops shared this would be a more appealing game.

The weed patch is a nice spoiler to keep the game fresh. So a standard set of moves can’t really be worked out. The action cards are another example of a themed game aspect creeping in that contrasts against the abstract feeling. I think that they could be cut completely.

This is an area control game to be sure. It features ways to mess with your opponent. It has crop rotation in only the most mild of manners (players passing control of each crop to form a set of games) I think that there are some interesting ideas here that could be worked into a fun abstract.

APOCALYPSE FARMERS

The theme here is good, I love me a post apocalyptic game. However the theme fails a little bit on being somewhat hodge podge. Why do brains turn into Eggs or Berries? Why do bunnies turn into brains. I suppose this isn’t any different than legume, leafy, root.

I like how this game doesn’t get too complicated for planting and harvesting. It pares these aspects of the game down nicely. The brains as a mechanic for moving zombies could be good or annoying. I can’t tell which. It is clever, leading the zombies around with brains. It strikes me as one of those things that the first time you play this game you will mismanage the brains in some way. The bunnies are a similar kind of thing. The ability to charge bunnies in and eat everything in a hex could be brutal. Managing zombies might be tough enough without getting them devoured. Again with the seeds and radberries things could get troublesome if you get out of balance. Just as a gut feeling the economy for this game seems fragile with the aggressive bunnies.

This game is about farming, Moving and keeping your fields running gives it area control and it certainly has messing with your neighbors. The resource chain is a good way of forcing crop rotation as well.

You Reap What You(and others) Sow

Now here is a title that jumps off the box at you. I can see it now the geek abbreviating it down to YRWYaoS.

Another near abstract here though of a completely different bent than the other ones we have seen. This one is almost like a cross between mancala and ticket to ride. Again I think I would have to play to give truly insightful commentary on this game, but that hasn’t stopped me so far. I like the use of the “pick from beans in the open” or “go for random” I think that is a strong mechanic. I’m guessing that the beans in the open replenish. In this case I think it might be slightly more interesting than it is in ticket to ride. It is easier to see who your opponents are and thus a bit more clear as to who you are screwing by taking their color beans. I do see many of the choices being pretty obvious, if two of your beans are available you are probably going to take them. I imagine this being a game that plays pretty fast. So the lack of deep choices is probably a good thing. I would recommend open scoring on this one. The unstable endgame I think is a good choice, and adds a press your luck element to the last 1/3 of the game.

I wouldn’t say this is an area control game. There is no way to take someone else’s cup or whatnot. The crop rotation is interesting, giving players a choice as to who gets another field in play, though again this is probably a pretty obvious choice. You do get plenty of opportunities to mess with another player, through black beans or just making their field inefficient. The fact that the game only plays with 5 is a drawback, though I could imagine a 3-4 player variant that would work as well.

Irrigation Aggravation

Aggravation has a straight forward theme, neighboring farmers again struggling to produce the most crops. It fits nicely with the mechanics of the games and makes the game feel trim and tightly themed, with a minimum of words, this is an impressive feat.

I like the majority of this game, though I do have some problems with a couple of minor aspects. Why are there 5 types of nutrients in this game? Players pick what types of nutrients they bring into a field, the only time this is out of their control is the set up where there are 1 of each in every field. There might as well be just one resource called fertilizer since managing the type isn’t important. If crops deposited different types of nutrients like in Hedge wizardry I think the multiple types would be more appropriate.

The Spring turn sequence of 1,2,2,2,…. Also strikes me as a bit clunky. I know if I were playing I would forget how many actions I had taken, an weather I had one or two this time. I’m not sure how I would improve this.

The water and flooding part of the game sounds fun, trying to press as much water into a bad field while blocking the chances of that water being used productively. Though with water only moving one field and always moving away from the river, there are only two entry points for water in any square, getting 4 water in to flood a plot may be very difficult.

This game certainly has a farming theme, and with the fallow rules, it encourages crop rotation. The area control aspect is straight foreward, though I worry that since there is no mechanism for taking a field from someone else, everyone first actions are just to claim all the fields they can and not worry about growing. The opportunities for messing with others lie in the runoff, which I think is a neat way to do things, though this dries up so to speak once all the river spaces are claimed. I think with some reworking this could be a good game.

Farm Feud

Crazed coots out in the frontier fighting over farmland is a neat theme. I can defiantly see a Hetfields and McCoy thing going on here. The game lacks the “take that” aspect needed to fully tie the game to the theme.

This is one of the better written games in this challenge, The gameplay is clearly described. Managing movement cards is interesting and a cool mechanic, I don’t know that it ties to the theme very well. It does work very well with the play of trying to isolate your opponent and block him off by claiming land though. The crop rotation mechanic in this game is different from all others, it works in a very clear fashion as well. Anything that has already grown on a field can’t grow there again, until you have been through all three types of crops. This is a clever way of forcing crop rotation without the bookkeeping of nutrients or charts that are implied in other games.

The game breaks down a little bit with the items you can buy. It seems that players should maybe start with a shovel so that the ditch digging is a bigger part of the game. The barn following the depletion of a field and the need to deplete fields before you upgrade is a good idea. But the only item a player really seems to need is a gun. This is because of the victory conditions.

The victory conditions are either trap or kill your opponent. The gun is the only object needed to do this, and having it opens up your ability to move as well by claiming your opponent’s fields. It seems to me that this game would break down to rushing to farm enough to buy a gun, and then just flipping through movement cards until you pin or shoot your opponent..

I would like to see the movement mechanic dropped and the victory condition changed in this game, there are some really good ideas here, and a few thrown in that fight the theme and the other mechanics.

The game has farming, one of the more clever crop rotations, area control and the ability to mess with your opponent certainly. It satisfies the requirements nicely.

Hoe! Hoe! Hoe! Migrant Green Giant!

I like this game and its silly giants. The theme works nicely with the mechanics. The player interaction may be a bit low, but I could see this game playing out well with the euro game crowd.

Purchasing parcels players are presented with a choice. What parcels to buy, and whether to focus on river or non river farms, and then try to drown or dry your opponent, Or to go with balance between the two and keep the middle ground going. I imagine the game would be more interesting with players taking different approaches to this so that the rain conflict would be a bit spicier. A problem may arise that a player with river only tiles might save every +rain card he gets and drain them out of the deck as the game progresses. Unless there is some kind of force discard at some point the players will reach a static rain situation. Saving up your + or – rain cards for a brutal year sounds fun though.

I like the prisoner dilemma aspect of hiring the giants. Though it punishes the most greedy farmer and not everyone, so it isn’t a straight prisoner dilemma I suppose. Without some kind of market system it doesn’t matter that there are 4 types of crops, the type of crop only matters as it relates to a particular parcel of land, I think that perhaps there is room to expand on this. Also the example crop is zero sum. So there is no choice involved in when to swap a crop over. For example over three turns, 2 bucks corn +1 buck corn – 1 buck for swapping + 4 bucks beans = 6 bucks. Or 2 Corn -1 swap +3 bean + 2 bean= 6 bucks. So it doesn’t matter much over time how you manage your crops. Again a market system would help with this.

This game has the farming theme, the crop rotation, and somewhat of an area control mechanism, though it is more about producing a volume of land, than trying to take land from other people, it is more of a land buying game than a land controlling game. The players can mess with one another, through drought or floods, and they can walk the tightrope of messing with one another by bidding high. This game has potential for development.

Hick’onomics

Another novel twist on the farming theme, this time moonshiners. However unlike farm feud this game seems to have more of that “take that” flavor to it.

The players don’t seem have much control over what they plant. They get dealt 5 cards, they have to plant 4 of them. Since crops turn into shine, I’m guessing that you focus on planting your crops and then maybe playing messin’ or bonus cards. There isn’t much room for long term planning here.

The bidding for control of markets is straight forward and makes sense, as does the +2 bonus for keeping a city. The Swap meet could be an interesting point, if crops stayed on the board rather than being discarded, you would have to swap for crops that you wanted to plant. Similarly I would think some kind of bonus for planting multiples of the same thing would be in order, add a set collection element to the game.

The game is about farming. There isn’t much area control or crop rotation involved unless I am missing something. It does feature messing with other players more prominently than most of the other games.

Kaiso

This is my game so I will skip the majority of stuff and go to the summary.

This game is about farming, and area control is one of the victory conditions but not at the forefront. The crop rotation aspect is very limited, there are three kinds of crops and sometimes you plant different ones, it isn’t very integral to the game. The messing with other players aspect is there but not huge, it could have been worked on. I worry a bit that this game falls victim to the multi player solitaire syndrome.

Yugoslavia

Here we go, a historical farming game! There are so many historical war games we need some history sims of other things. People aren’t always shooting one another!

This mostly seems to be a bidding game. I like how players farms grow connected out into the grid until there isn’t enough room to bid on new lands. Players can scatter their farm lands out at the cost of paying more to the bank, which could result in a death spiral. I think this mechanic makes for some interesting auctions, as the land value is tied not only to soil quality but to location.

The rest of the mechanisms are kept simple, there is a little bit of trying to get the optimal crop for you land, but the harvesting is straight forward and easy.

This game seems pretty straight forward and would play relatively quickly, it is always good to bring a game in under 90 minutes. I do worry a bit about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer though.

I really like this game. This game is simple, thematic and sounds like fun one. It is about farmers. I am not directly sure that it is an area control game, because that implies that others may take control away from you, but I really like the bidding to form large connected farms aspect. I didn’t see any crop rotation in it beyond changing what crop was planted in a field.

Great Job everyone!

Nando
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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Re: Irrigation Aggravation

Jpwoo wrote:
...There might as well be just one resource called fertilizer since managing the type isn’t important. If crops deposited different types of nutrients like in Hedge wizardry I think the multiple types would be more appropriate.

The crops don't deposit, they withdraw (upon successful harvest):

The Rules wrote:
Harvest: If it has all the requirements, the owner places the crop card in his score pile. Discard the soil and water tokens used.

On your next turn, it'd be easier to add a few more of whatever the last crop didn't withdraw. This is the most elegant solution to the rotation requirement I saw and played no small part in this game getting top honors with me.

DavemanUK
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Well done all round

OutsideLime wrote:

OUTSIDE LIME'S REVIEWS

[b]15. Yugoslavia

There’s a bit of confusion in the description about face-up and face-down, or I am reading something wrong.

I admit to screwing up the opening line of the Setup phase as it should have only said, "Arrange all the land tiles face down into a 5x5 grid." (i.e. don't turn them face up otherwise it ruins the peeking mechanic :) )

Well done Josh on a super win (and thanks for your suggestions).

Dave W.

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Congratulations to the winners. I guess we should ban Josh from now on, or just award him an automatic first place and use our votes to decide how the rest of us simple mortals are ranked. ;-)

I barely had the time to read all the entries and vote, but I rather post a quick comment on the entries now. Otherwise I'll end up not posting any comment. I have this tendency to plan a lot and end up doing little. :-(

1.FFFFF (My entry)
I think it has some potential to be developed, but lacks that "something special" required to gain votes in a competition as close as this month's GDS. I'm not surprised it ranked so low. I know I wouldn't have voted for it. I'm not sure I want to develop this idea in the future. Maybe some aspects of it.

2. Hedge Wizardy (3 points)
I liked this game as soon as I read it. All the requirements are cleverly implemented, the game looks fun, and the theme is a creative solution for the crop rotation condition. The territory control is more about quality than quantity, and I like that. An elegant game that I would enjoy playing.

3. Seeds of War
Terrytory control deosn't seem to be essential in the game, but one of the methods to get VP, and crop rotation can be totally ignored, it's more like you can rotate, but don't need to, nor will have any noticeable advantadge by rotating crops. Messing with your neighbours is definitelly the main issue in this game. Could have had some points from me had the focus been a bit more on the crops side of things.

4. Manure!
Out of the equation for word count.
I expected the messing with neighbours included throwing manure or something. Crop rotation exists, but it's not really required. I'm not sure if the problem is in the game or how the entry is written, but it seems a bit too complex to grasp. Maybe a list of possible activities instead of ordered phases would help.

5. Plant, you bastard! (2 points)
All the requirements were fulfilled into an elegant and easy to understand game. I found the theme fits the mechanics very well, although it seems to be glued to an abstract game. But then I love abstracts, and this seems to be a fun and agile game to play.

6. The Land Passes Down
The tiles are really interesting, not just the usual tile placing game. The game seems to have potential for many different playing strategies and lots of variation, which at first is a good thing, but here I feel might be a bit too much, and lead to analysis paralysis. The entry looks like it suffered a lot of cutting to meet the 800 word criteria (that's why I dq. the entries that were above the limit).

7. The Wheat And The Weeds
Too long! And crop rotation isn't really there. One crop substitutes another because one player invades a rival territory, I know, but this doesn't feel like crop rotation, but like a crop change that can be permanent.

8. Apocalypse Farmers
It has great potential to become a fun and varying game, but it feels to dependant on rules (vs. laws as discussed on another thread in the forum). This could be solved mainly by working a bit more on the story side, I guess, making things more reasonable would help learning to play the game. This doesn't apply to people who is familiar with mutant bunnies and zombies and brain seeds, but if I were to play the game I'm affraid I would need to check the rules all the time. ;-)
You might like this news item.

9. You Reap What You (And Others) Sow
Another abstract in disguise that I would enjoy playing. But this time the theme seems to be more distant from the game mechanics. If this were my game I would ditch the crops theme altogether and leave it as an abstract game.

10.Irrigation Aggravation
A great combination of theme with mechanics to comply with the contest requirements. I would like more room to protect and nurse what you seed; as it is it's more about destroying your rivals plantations than growing your own. The lack of a method to take over your rival's land might lead to huge unbalance if a player quickly gains some advantadge over the rival (say a veteran against a newbie), so the focus will be on controling as much land (and river) as possible before your rival.

11. Farm Feud (1 point)
Looks easy to learn, but still leaves room for different strategies. The winning conditions go somehow against the rest of the game. I would eliminate the kill-the-rival option, and end the game when a player can't move, but not make him automatically loose, rather use some other criteria, like amount of land controlled, or amount of crops or money.

12. Hoe! Hoe! Hoe! Migrant Green Giant! (4 points)
A great game, with the best crop rotation implementation of the GDS. Elegant, simple, and fun. Very well written entry. Looks like it's ready for play. This was my favourite one, a bit above Hedge Wizardry (though just half a point in my 1-10 scale).

13. Hick'onomics
The game is fine, but crop rotation is barely existent, and terytory control is minimal.

14. Kaiso
I really like the general game idea, and the sushi roll dice are great. But the whole entry seems a bit confusing (maybe it's just that I read it in a a bit of a hurry because I had little time left to vote), with s few important details left unclear. Probably another victim of the 800-word limit. I failed to find the crop rotation.

15. Yugoslavia
The game is about crops and territory control, but unless I'm very much mistaken (which, as explained for Kaiso, I might be) crop rotation not only isn't encouraged, but punished. I also fail to see where the messing with the neighbours is, it rather seems to be several people playing solitares together; more player interaction would help a lot.

Seo

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Jpwoo wrote:
Fierce Farmers Fight For Farmland

Alliterative title, good for GDS, makes the game stand out. Probably would be published under another name.

Indeed. It took me about a week to be able to pronounce it. The original title was Farmers Fight Farmers For Farmland which is much easy. ;-P

Seo

Jpwoo
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Quote:

PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:52 am Post subject:
Quote:
Re: Irrigation Aggravation
Jpwoo wrote:
...There might as well be just one resource called fertilizer since managing the type isn’t important. If crops deposited different types of nutrients like in Hedge wizardry I think the multiple types would be more appropriate.

The crops don't deposit, they withdraw (upon successful harvest):

Quote:
The Rules wrote:
Harvest: If it has all the requirements, the owner places the crop card in his score pile. Discard the soil and water tokens used.

On your next turn, it'd be easier to add a few more of whatever the last crop didn't withdraw. This is the most elegant solution to the rotation requirement I saw and played no small part in this game getting top honors with me.

There are five different types of minerals. The player has complete control over what minerals they put in a field with one exception, the very begining of the game. To my mind this makes the purpose of having multiple kinds of nutrients an added complication. After you harvest twice, you are just going to put in the field what you need, there is no choice there.

This could be solved a couple of ways, either start more nutrients at the begining of the game. Or I think the more elegant solutions of Take X drop Y.

doho123
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I'm glad that it seems that the way I wrote my entry (Migrant Green Giant) went over well. I really tried to present it more of an "overview" as opposed to a "hard set of rules," which I think makes things for an easier read, and for a more efficient word-count entry (such as introducing components as they are brought up in the game description instead of listing a component list).

Hopefully, more people will try this approach in later showdowns.

DarkDream
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Hedge Wizardy

I didn't read the rules of Hedge Wizardy carefully enough.

I didn't vote for it because of thought it did not do crop rotation properly.

After looking at it again, it is quite ingenious how certain herbs use up nutrients and create different nutrients once harvested. This thus forces players then to plant a different herb (to use up the new nutrients which the old herb could not use) which is where crop rotation fits in.

This in the abstract is what almost exactly happends in real life in terms of different nutrients. This is one of the main reasons crop rotation works. Another reason is to not allow pests to gain a foothold on a certain crop which can happen if a crop is consistently planted over a period of time (different crops are susceptible to different pests).

If you just had this it would be a simulation. The fact that you require different crops to create spells makes the planting of herbs in to interesting decisions. If you did not have this, there would not really be a reason to have the crop rotation from a game stand point.

Well done, Outside Lime. If I was you, I would maybe actually make the game, play test it (maybe simplify a bit) and you may have a great game on your hands.

--DarkDream

Nestalawe
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Man Lime, you punk ;) I can't remember exactly who I voted for now, but I really didn't think that was your entry!

I will see if I can put together a few critique notes for everyone over the next week...

seo wrote:

8. Apocalypse Farmers
It has great potential to become a fun and varying game, but it feels to dependant on rules (vs. laws as discussed on another thread in the forum). This could be solved mainly by working a bit more on the story side, I guess, making things more reasonable would help learning to play the game. This doesn't apply to people who is familiar with mutant bunnies and zombies and brain seeds, but if I were to play the game I'm affraid I would need to check the rules all the time. ;-)
You might like this news item.

Cheers Seo ;) I think I focussed too much on making the rules as complete as correct as possible. Rather than just providing a rough overview of a game, I am more interested in seeing if I can create a complete ruleset. In this case I think the word limitation caused me to make things confusing while trying to cover all angles that someone might pick holes in the gameplay on.

Anyway, I am working on a proper version, so will make it available when its done. I have played the game a few times now and the system works - the 'planting', moving and harvesting - and the game plays quickly, which is nice. I am re-jigging the victory system and adding in a splash of calculated randomness to balance the total-knowledge planning side of things. But, it is turning into a nicely tactical game, so thats cool...

OutsideLime wrote:
Kooky theme and clever writing is interesting but struggles against the farming mechanics. I can’t reconcile the “planting” of zombies and bunnies…. There are too many exception rules here to easily grasp how the game would work. I believe that this game could be fun when played, but it doesn’t describe very well. Most of the component theme is counter-intuitive to the actual component function.

I definately need a backstory eh wot ;) Gah, the game is actually very simple, man I am going to need to really re-work those rules...

OutsideLime wrote:
Bunnies eat zombies?

Helo-ooo! 'Mutant Bunnies', du-uh... ;)

Yogurt wrote:
Entertaining theme. We all have fond kindergarten memories of planting zombie seeds in paper cups. Simple but effective combat mechanism. Feels like an abstract with some economy mixed in.

Cheers Yog. Ah yeah, those were the days - helping them grow, feeding them bits of brains. Really easy to train once you learn em' some discipline. Yeah, the combat is secondary (or should be) to the planning ahead of crops and your focus. The games we have played so far (with rules re-worked from those in my entry...) have been interesting in terms of timing and resource-management.

Nestalawe'

DavemanUK
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Thanks to all reviewers

seo wrote:

15. Yugoslavia
The game is about crops and territory control, but unless I'm very much mistaken (which, as explained for Kaiso, I might be) crop rotation not only isn't encouraged, but punished. I also fail to see where the messing with the neighbours is, it rather seems to be several people playing solitares together; more player interaction would help a lot.

Seo

Thanks Seo (and others) for your critique. I kept the player interaction largely focused on the auctions part of the game, much in the way Goa and Princes of Florence work. I really liked the second guessing aspect to the auction as the auctioneer chooses and sets the price for 2 out of 3 hidden fields, i.e. will he choose good fields and lowball them or bad fields and highball them? (that mechanic I adapted from 'North Sea Oil').

I provided 'messing with your opponents' through the auctioneer's choice of fields being restricted to a chain of three fields, thus they could isolate another player's field from having a chance to expand.

I agree the crop rotation part could be developed some more (Josh's and some other entries have some great systems in place for that) but for now I wanted to ensure the auctions kept the tension concentrated each round. I playtest with Scurra and Seb so we'll check for rich gets richer syndromes :)

Thanks again all,
Dave.

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Re: Thanks to all reviewers

DavemanUK wrote:
I agree the crop rotation part could be developed some more (Josh's and some other entries have some great systems in place for that) but for now I wanted to ensure the auctions kept the tension concentrated each round. I playtest with Scurra and Seb so we'll check for rich gets richer syndromes :)

Be aware that my critiques (and most of the others) are usually focused on why we rate one game higher than the others for the GDS, but sometimes a game will be better if it simply ignores (or gives little importance) to some of the GDS requirements. So a game might be perfect but score poorly simply because it doesn't fit the challenge requirements as elegantly as another entry. So unless you feel crop rotation really requires improvement to improve the game, leave it as it is. While most voters considered a good solution for crop rotation as positive in this GDS, I bet none has ever considered it as a deciding factor at the time of purchasing a game. ;-)

Seo

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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

First of all, let me thank everyone who has taken the time to critique. I still find that aspect intimidating. I don’t feel I have enough experience yet to do that well (this was my second attempt at a GDS).

I was pleased to see Hick’onomics get some votes. I especially like the fact that, even though some did not feel it worthy of votes based on the GDS specifics, they still thought it could be a fun game. That made it worth the effort, believe me. And getting some nods regarding the theme and someone mentioning the jugs: all confidence boosters.

I plan on pulling together all your comments, and any future ones, in order to see where it can go from here (if anywhere). There were a couple of things that were overlooked when I sent in the entry – I hadn’t mentioned you were supposed to re-fill you hand after planting cards, for one thing. And I was toying with a supply/demand idea – where the value of each moonshine jug would vary, depending on how many came to market. I may try to add that back in.

The competition was great – and I look forward to the next one. All the games were interesting and well done!

Nestalawe
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clapjaws wrote:
First of all, let me thank everyone who has taken the time to critique. I still find that aspect intimidating. I don’t feel I have enough experience yet to do that well (this was my second attempt at a GDS).

Yeah I feel I need a bit more experience before making worthy critiques, but partly I just suck as critiquing...

Definately refine the game cj! The theme and atmosphere was great and I would be well keen to try it out!

Just make sure you enter more GDS's, tis a great way to practise... ;)

OutsideLime
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YeaaaaAAAAHHHHHH!

Three-PEAT, baby! ....with a graphicless entry, to boot! Those fertility rituals really did pay off! Thanks, Nesty! :-)

I didn't think I'd sneak this ine past you guys, really... I thought that Kaiso would pull many more votes than it did, I gave it and Irrigation Aggravation 3 points each.

Thanks for the kind words, everyone who had any... I am glad that the effects of my crop-rotation mechanic became apparent to readers, even though I didn't spell them out.

DarkDream wrote:
Well done, Outside Lime. If I was you, I would maybe actually make the game, play test it (maybe simplify a bit) and you may have a great game on your hands.

Thanks Dark! I am working on creating the board nutrient-seeding balance and hope to playtest shortly.

yogurt wrote:
It might be interesting to allow players to harvest multiple crops on a space at once, in order to reward risky stockpiles that could be captured.

Players CAN harvest multiple crops from a field, if they've got the Lunks in place to do so. I think that large stockpiles would be difficult to raid because the raider would need to move in a bunch of Lunks at once in order to do any real damage.

Jpwoo wrote:
Though there are no hedges involved.
No hedges in Hedge Wizardry... I know! "Hedge Wizardry" is a (usually disdainful) term used by "serious" sorcerors to refer to magic that is accomplished by the "amateurish" mixing of herbs and berries.

Jpwoo wrote:
I also really like the name Lunk.

Me TOO! It just fits, I think. You've got your wizards up in their towers, and a buncha Lunks out in the fields doing all the work. Say it out loud: "A buncha Lunks". It gives the impression that they are earnest hardworking kinda dopey workers.

Lots of balancing issues to work out. Jpwoo pointed out concerns about locking down a field by manning it with a trio of Lunks, or of fields being rendered usueless through nutrient depletion, but I think that there are spells (or setup details unmentioned in the entry) that would counter these issues. Enemy locks down a field? Get up next to it and Deplete it of nutrients, or Blight it of crops. Fields rendered useless? I'm trying to manage the initial nutrient salting so that this happens rarely, but Fertilizing fields solves the problem handily.

Playtesting and finetuning will help me work this stuff out... I'll keep you guys updated!

Thanks again, see you next month!

~Josh

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OutsideLime wrote:
I think that large stockpiles would be difficult to raid because the raider would need to move in a bunch of Lunks at once in order to do any real damage.

Sorry, although I said "capture," the risk I was actually thinking of was Blight. It looks like you can destroy all herbs in a field with one spell, no lunks needed. So it's risky to leave too many herbs lying around.

But I did miss that you can harvest multiple herbs with multiple lunks, so that may mitigate the risk enough right there.

Great game. Let us know how it develops.

Ska_baron
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Let me be another to raise my voice in congratulations to the winners of this contest! Unfortunately illness took me away from my job and thus my computer access yesterday and I was unable to vote =(

That being said, I've had a small time to read over the comments that were so graciously given. Thanks to all for the time and effort into critiquing.

Outside Lime said:

Quote:
Creative theme where the grown crops are the troops that wage the area-control contest. Use of minerals as fuel for extra moves is a nice twist… I can’t find a real crop-rotation element here, players can grow different crops/troops yes, but it’s not tied in to the fields, specifically. I love the Almanac idea as VP-generator. I would like to see the Almanac as a book, somehow. The different crops seem quite unbalanced… zucchinis might have a significant advantage.

Thanks for the comments from the champ! Glad to see some of the concepts might work out, and yes, my biggest fear was that Seeds of War’s crop rotation wasn’t going to fit the bill.

Yogurt said:

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The connection to farming was tenuous. Felt like it wanted to be a different game.

Looking back I think I had a different game in the back of my mind and I plan on working with this material under another theme. Any suggestions would be most welcome!

Jpwoo said:

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The theme here is very thin. This seems to be a war game with a bit of a farm theme slipped cunningly over it. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like the game, It just doesn’t’ feel much like farming to me.

I like the bidding on your major crop/unit at the start of the game. I am not sure that the mechanism described works all that well. Let’s assume that the unit types are balanced, then I will just bid nothing and get whatever I get. If the units are unbalanced then things get a little more interesting. Rather than laying your bids on your choices I would like to see a simpler “high bid, first pick, second bid, second pick.” Everyone pays mechanism. The poster mentions Amun-re which I haven’t played so I might be missing something here.

I like the Lt farmer units. They give you something to protect other than your main farm. The fact that they don’t come back helps put pressure on to end the game.

I am a little confused about minerals in the fields. If you move your farmer into another player’s field you redistribute the resources in that field? Are resources kept on the board or in a resource pool that the player keeps?

The action and almanac cards could certainly be fun. Action cards provides surprises which are needed in an Add up and resolve combat mechanic. The almanac cards I think are very cool. Weird and surprising sources of VP is a neat idea. I think that maybe having more than 30 of these would be nice so experienced players will have a tougher time memorizing them.

I think this is an interesting war game, not as much a farming game. It fits the area control and messing with other players criteria. I’m not sure about the crop rotation though unless I missed something.

Again, glad some elements (Lt farmer, almanac/action cards) went over well. And to clarify the minerals: I envisioned each player having their own pool. When I buy something, everyone else gets the minerals to then buy their stuff with. Unless you buy in an opponents field, then you’re using his minerals since they came from his field. This was one of the things I liked most about what I came up with, but it doesn’t seem like it fit well exactly with farming…

Seo said:

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Terrytory control deosn't seem to be essential in the game, but one of the methods to get VP, and crop rotation can be totally ignored, it's more like you can rotate, but don't need to, nor will have any noticeable advantadge by rotating crops. Messing with your neighbours is definitelly the main issue in this game. Could have had some points from me had the focus been a bit more on the crops side of things.

Ah, silly crop rotation. You guys and your “rules” of sticking to the guidelines ;) A valuable learning experience nonetheless! Making units fight better if with others would lead to players trying to diversify their armies and forced/guided them to some semblance of crop rotation, may have helped make it fit with the crop rotation rule better, but since I’d obviously change the theme, it’s a moot point now.

Overall, thanks everyone and even though I didn’t do so hot this time around, it was my first and it really got me excited to actually MAKE a game (even though an ultimately unfinished one) and not just ponder ideas. Thanks to all who entered!

Nestalawe
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Critique the June 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

OutsideLime wrote:

Three-PEAT, baby! ....with a graphicless entry, to boot! Those fertility rituals really did pay off! Thanks, Nesty! :-)

No worries Limey-baby, just next time don't be so rough, I still have a rash...

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