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All For One

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sedjtroll
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Well, we've (Scurra and I) have been working (pretty hard) on All For One for the last 8 months or so. It has just been submitted to Hippodice in it's current incarnation. I think Scurra even said that the GDW might be a good idea for the game before we decide to try and submit it to Days of Wonder.

I finally got another opportunity to play the game this weekend, which will be the first time since we added the special "One For All" card- a card which can be used to score extra points, or traded in for a powerful effect, like taking an extra turn.

The game has gone through extensive changes since March when Scurra first sent me a prototype. Here's a breif synopsis of the game followed by a report from this weekends playtests. Last time I did this there was a question about having the author's blessing before describing their game in public. This time I think it's safe to say that I have Scurra's permission...

ALL FOR ONE
France, 1630. The Royal Musketeers are personal guards of King Louis XIII, defending the King against the dubious plots of Cardinal Richelieu. Athos, Porthos, Aramis, d'Artagnan, Rochefort, and MiLady DiWinter move around paris fighting duels and completing missions to earn the Favor of the King and Cardinal. Both characters and players earn Favors throughout the game and bonus points are scored at the end when players reveal their true allegiances. The winner is the player who earns the most Favors.

Characters complete missions by picking up plot tokens and delivering them to the appropriate locations. Players are not tied to using any particular character, rather each turn they choose which character to use. Using the same character twice in a row means you get 1 less action that turn (hey, give the character a break, they get tired!). Guards patrol half the city, moving 1 space along their path every couple of turns. They act as a hindrance to Musketeers, forcing them to stop their movement and duel. Losing a duel to a Guard ends a player's turn, but defeating the guard earns the character a Favor!

Missions are printed on cards, of which you have a hand of 4. Players can be "working on" any or all of their missions simultaneously. They are accomplished by revealing the mission card (as an action) and demonstrating that the appropriate character is at the appropriate location with the appropriate tokens. Blue missions must be completed by a Musketeer (some by a specific Musketeer) and Red missions must be completed by a Cardinal's Agent (some by a specific Cardinal's Agent). Green missions may be completed by any character.

These mission cards double as dueling cards and are used to fight a duel. There are 2 types of duels- Guard duels and Character duels.

Guard duels occur when a Musketeer encounters a guard while moving. The active player plays a card from their hand and then reveals the top card of the deck and duel scores are calculated- Blue cards count toward the Musketeer, Green and Red cards count toward the Guard. Some cards give a bonus to the Musketeer or to the guard. Winning a Guard duel earns the character a Favor. A tie with the guard means nothing. Losing a Guard duel ends the turn immediately.

Character duels occur when one character demands a Plot Token from another. In this case ALL PLAYERS play a card face down- they are all revealed and duel scores are calculated the same way... Blue cards count for the Active character (the attacker), and Red and Green cards count for the defender. Some cards give a bonus to he attacker. Winning a Character duel earns the active character a Favor and posession of the Plot Token in question. A tie earns the active character the Plot Token, but no Favor. A loss means nothing. Cards played in the duel are discarded, then players other than the active player draw a card to replace the one they used.

Each character has a special ability which comes into play during combat. Aramis can skip a duel against a guard. Milady can sweet talk a Musketeer into handing over a plot token without a fight. D'Artagnan can re-fight a duel when he loses. Athos, Porthos, and Rochefort can do tings to add to their duel score to help them win the duel.

The new addition is the One For All card- a special card each player starts with. This card is held in hand in addition to the maximum of 4 Mission cards. It can be used as follows, or held to add bonus points when missions are completed:
- Add 3 to the duel score when played by the active player in a duel (instead of a mission card)
- Add 0 to the duel score and return to players hand when played by a non-active player in a Character duel.
- As an action, end your turn and begin a new one.
Once played, the one For all card remains face up on the table until the player completes a mission, at that time they may put it back into their hand.

The One For All card worked very well, and made for some good plays and options. It also added to scoring for missions, to make sure they outweighed just fighting duels- making Missions more important, which is the intention.

Players score victory points (Favors) for completing missions- 1 VP per token delivered. Characters score favors for completing missions and for winning duels. Players score endgame points for the favors collected by one of the characters- the identity of which is dealt out secretly at the beginning of the game.

I'll start a new post in this thread with a playtest report.

sedjtroll
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11/5 playtest (2 games)

Last Friday I stopped by Friday Night Magic at Amazing Discoveries to see if I still knew anyone. It turned out that a couple of my friends were hanging out, one was in the Magic tournament, but between rounds was playing a game of Netrunner with the other one. I decided to run home (around the corner) and pick up All For One and another game or 2 (comercial games) to see if anyone would try them.

I was able to talk people into testing out All For One, which made me happy because I haven't been able to play it in ages, and I had yet to play it with the One For All card. The players were Cory, Lex, and myself. Cory was the old friend who was playing Netrunner. He's not the sharpest tactician, but he's a nice guy. Lex is one of the newer Magic players who I only know from stopping in at FNM, so I didn't know how he would like the game but he wasn't playing Magic and seemed pretty interested.

I explained the rules, and they were pretty well understood. In fact, nobody made any big mistakes because they misunderstood a rule (that I know of), which sometimes happens on the first play of a game. I don't recall too many specifics of the game, like the exact score or who had which ID. We left the d'Artagnan ID tile face up, se we all knew we could use d'Artagnan without giving points away. This was a modification Scurra introduced to ease players into using characters other than their ID tile, and I think it works well.

Cory's play was uneventful, he moved pieces around and did a few missions, but it's hard to say if any of it was on purpose. he ended up scoring something like 8 points which is respectable, but won't ever win. Lex and I had about 12 points each, and he had completed more missions and therefore won the tiebreak.

I went with my usual strategy, more or less, which was to deliver multiple tokens at a time, especially when using someone else's ID, and watch for opportunistic plays when they shape up. I also decided not to use my One For All card and instead score extra points for it. Meanwhile, Lex was using his One For All card like crazy, but only to complete a mission. He did mostly 1-token missions, but he ended up doing more than I did and thereby won the tiebreak. By the end of the game I used my One For All card more liberally, but to no good end.

During the game some people came to check it out in between watching or playing Magic. After it was over I asked around to see if anyone else wanted to play. Lex said he'd play again, and another kid Jordan wanted to try it. A third person sounded interested as well, but after the rules and about 2 turns he decided to quit, but not before taking a turn to completely undo my actions. That was a bummer, but we were able to play the rest of the game out. Lex continued to use his One For All card a lot, but only to complete missions. I made better use of the One For All card this time, and was able to do a big mission (3 tokens) and some other decent missions (2 tokens) and I think I won that game but it was close all around.

Afterwards I gave Jordan a ride home and we talked about the game and what was good or bad about it. He really liked it, but thought Musketeers should be able to move past each other (currently characters must stop movement when they encounter another character).

Overall a nice test, people liked the game, onlookers thought it was cool. Perhaps I'll bring it back out this Friday and look for some more tests.

sedjtroll
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11/6 playtest

I met a new group of gamers, who get together once, sometimes TWICE a week to play board games. Let me tell you I couldn't be happier! I even got to play Tigris and Euphrates on Saturday, which turned out to be very good indeed.

Also Saturday I got some of the group to try out All For One. Players were Sean, his wife Patty, Paul, and myself. Pauls wife kept us company, giving 'acutorture' massages and knitting. Regarding the game, the ladies both liked it, Paul seemed pretty indifferent, and Sean said he'd want to play it again before making a judgement. I was actually pretty happy with these reactions, considering the highly irregular game that we played.

First off, the game took almost 2 hours. we were playing slowly and chatting a lot, but still that's way longer than it ought to have taken. I think the reason why is because noone was really doing missions other than me.

The group as a whole seemed to have more trouble grasping the rules than other playtesters I've taught the game to. Maybe that impacted play a lot. As it happens I was able to do 5 or 6 missions, many with multiple tokens, while everyone else did only 1 or 2. My score of 16 was simply unheard of, witht he high score usually being around 12 or 13 points.

I think upon another playing everyone will do better. There was some aspect of people trying only to use the character they wre dealt, which tends to slow the game down and screw the people who try that. I hope next weekend (or maybe Wednesday) we'll get a chance to try again with a little more focus and have a more normal game of it.

I'm really excited to have found this group and that they're willing to play the game a few times before dismissing it. Now I just hope the game performs so they decide it's worth playing some more!

Anonymous
All For One

Wow!!! 2x per week?!? I have friends that play RPG's that much and more, but I can't get them to commit to board games more than a few times a month. You really hit the jackpot!

sedjtroll
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All For One

SiskNY wrote:
Wow!!! 2x per week?!? You really hit the jackpot!

I KNOW! I'm excited. I've already played Bang!, Fresh Fish, and Tigris & Euphrates with them, which I'd never played before, as well as taught some of them Hansa and All For One. We've also played Nimmt and Citadels, and I watched them finish a game of Medici (which I'd also never seen before). That's all in just 3 sessions.

Zzzzz
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All For One

sedjtroll wrote:
SiskNY wrote:
Wow!!! 2x per week?!? You really hit the jackpot!

I KNOW! I'm excited. I've already played Bang!, Fresh Fish, and Tigris & Euphrates with them, which I'd never played before, as well as taught some of them Hansa and All For One. We've also played Nimmt and Citadels, and I watched them finish a game of Medici (which I'd also never seen before). That's all in just 3 sessions.

How lucky.... I wish I could find enough people (and time) to play games a couple times a week.

Ah well, I guess I have to be happy with that fact that I have "enough" time to design a few games. Maybe playing games will happen down the road.....

Scurra
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All For One

It's odd that the fundamental structure of the game has remained virtually untouched since it was originally conceived: pick up and deliver, with required and optional tokens. And the board is pretty much the same as it was then too.

The sticking points have been the duelling mechanic, which is still a little unsatisfying, and the general chaotic feel of the game, which some players simply do not seem to "get"; this is a game in which you not only have to have a Plan A and a Plan B, but frequently you find yourself stuck with Plan C. The first time out, this just feels perverse as you struggle for meaningful things to do and I'm still worried that this will put off too many players. But compromising on this factor risks undermining what still feels like a unique game.

The most interesting part of the development process has been the steady streamlining of the mechanics, as things are removed, made more obvious, tried and discarded and so on. An original list of eight or so Actions has been pruned down to five (and Seth and I are even now discussing discarding one of those!)

And yes, I have granted Seth a co-authorship credit. His contributions have gone so far beyond merely playtesting and his enthusiasm for the game has kept me working on it long past the point when I might normally have filed it away as "promising but not quite there." And it's worth noting that our communications have largely been through this board (the chat room has saved us countless hours of email exchanges!), something that needs to be credited in the rulebook too :-)

sedjtroll
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Scurra wrote:
It's odd that the fundamental structure of the game has remained virtually untouched since it was originally conceived: pick up and deliver, with required and optional tokens. And the board is pretty much the same as it was then too.

I wouldn't say this is odd... most of the work I did or suggestions I made about the game were based on these parts being the parts I liked. It was by design that they didn't change as much as, say, the dueling mechanic, because from my point of view anyway, I tried to make the game fit those aspects.

However it is somewhat interesting that we never found the need to change them, even with respect to other changes that were made.

- Seth

jwarrend
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All For One

Scurra wrote:
And the board is pretty much the same as it was then too.

This bit, at least, isn't surprising to me. Disciples has undergone a lot of changes, yet the board hasn't been something I've even attempted to adjust. My Civ lite game is pretty much the same way. I think it's sometimes easier to see the board as a static structure around which the rules of the game must be modified to make the game "fair". In your game, a pick-up-and-deliver, it seems just as easy to modify the valuation of certain "delivery routes" as to modify the spacings of those destinations on the board. But changing both would almost certainly be too fine-grained a change to evaluate easily in playtesting. With some games, like El Grande, for example, where the board has some "functionality" (the payouts for majorities), I can imagine some iterations were needed, but for a board that merely functions as a map, it seems like the initial board could survive long into the playtest process.

Quote:

The sticking points have been the duelling mechanic, which is still a little unsatisfying,

It seems like this is just a function of the constraints you're imposing on the mechanic; you want a system that evaluates quickly, yet has some flavor. May I suggest that "quick resolution combat" is almost certainly the antithesis of something that "feels" like an actual combat? I think that the most you can hope for is something that plays out in an interesting way, and it sounds like you've got that. But to capture the "feel" of dueling would be tough indeed.

One possible solution might be to reduce the total number of duels, but to increase their scope and importance. As an example of this, one of my disappointments with the War of the Ring combat system is that it's a vanilla dice-off, and feels kind of simple. In the LotR game I'm working on, I'm hoping to set up a way for the game to only consist of several battles during the game, but these will be major, both in scope and importance, and thus I can justify a more fleshed-out combat mechanic which I hope will be a nice balance between simplicity and simulation.

Good luck with the game! Hope it does well in Hippodice. (BTW, have you heard anything back from Hippodice yet? I never heard whether they actually received my entry or not; not sure when they start contacting people).

-Jeff

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jwarrend wrote:
It seems like this is just a function of the constraints you're imposing on the mechanic; you want a system that evaluates quickly, yet has some flavor. May I suggest that "quick resolution combat" is almost certainly the antithesis of something that "feels" like an actual combat? I think that the most you can hope for is something that plays out in an interesting way, and it sounds like you've got that. But to capture the "feel" of dueling would be tough indeed.

You're quite right of course. I started with a complicated duelling system that had some nice simulationist moments but felt clunky. We've ended up with what is essentially a voting system rather than a duelling system, which works quite well but feels a little odd. (In fact, a properly extended version of my original duelling system went into another game entirely where it's a much better fit!)

It's a fair comment about the board, btw - I spent a long time getting it right in the first place, but I suspect that it could be tightened up in a lot of places given the subsequent changes. But since it works, it hasn't had much attention focussed on it.

sedjtroll
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All For One

Scurra wrote:
I spent a long time getting [the board] right in the first place, but I suspect that it could be tightened up in a lot of places given the subsequent changes. But since it works, it hasn't had much attention focussed on it.

Right, maybe we'll do a little of that at the very end if at all.

What did you think about the idea of putting 'high traffic' tokens (used a lot) in the dead end spaces, to try and get all the extents of the board used more?

doho123
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All For One

Is there an area where I can download the materials for "All for One" yet? Or are still tweaking things?

sedjtroll
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Proposed changes, what do you think?

Here are a few of the changes we're considering for All For One. Please let me know what your reactions are to them. I realize noone's that familiar with the game, but anyone could formulate an opinion based on the description of the current rule and the proposed change :)

Movement
Current rule: Move the active character up to three spaces. You must stop when encountering any other character. A musketeer must stop and fight when encountering a guard.

Proposed change: Move the active character up to three spaces. Cardinals Agents must stop when encountering a Musketeer, they may move past other Agents and Guards. Musketeers must stop when encoutnering a Cardinal's Agent, they may move past other Musketeers. Musketeers must stop and fight when encoutnering a guard.

Proposed addition: Encountering another character triggers a Demand action (currently it does not). The active player may make a Demand of a character they encounter. This is in addition to and seperate from using the Demand action as one of their three actions for the turn. (The Demand action allows Characters to take Plot Tokens from each other- it triggers duels as the characters fight over the plot token)

Character Combat
Character Combat occurs when one character demands a token from another via the Demand action. At stake in the duel is the plot token in question as well as a victory point. The Attacker is always the Active player.
Current rule: Each player plays 1 card face down. All cards are revealed and Duel Scores are totaled. Blue cards count toward toward Attacker's score, Red cards count toward the Defender's score. Bonuses may be awarded to the attacker depending on cards played. A One For All card (a special card) played by the active player adds 3 to the attacker's duel score. A One For All card played by anoyone else adds nothing to either duel score. After scores are compared to determine if the attacker wins or loses, NON-ACTIVE players playing their One For All card put it back in their hand. All other cards are discarded. NON-ACTIVE players draw a card to replace any they discarded.

Proposed change: Same, except nobody draws any cards. If you played a card then you have 1 less card, unless it was your One For All card (and you aren't the active player) in which case you get it back and your hand doesn't change.

One For All card
In addition to combat uses mentioned above, the One For All card can be played as an action. When used this way, the player immediately ends thier turn and begins a new one. Players may only have at most 1 One For All card, which they start the game with.
Current rule: Once played, the One For All card remains face up in front of the player. Upon completing a mission the player gets their One For All card back.

Proposed change: Once played, the One For All card remains face up in front of the player. At the beginning of a player's turn, instead of activating a character, the player may pick up their One For All card and skip their turn. [Note: this could be after activating a character too..]

Draw a Card action
Current rule: As one of the three actions for the turn, a player may draw a mission card intot heir hand. A player may have a maximum of 4 Mission cards in their hand (and therefore may not use this action if they have 4 cards)

Proposed change: Change the draw action to a "Refill Hand" action, where the player refills their hand to 4 cards.

OR

Remove the Draw action and have each player refill their hand to 4 mission cards at the end of their (or each) turn.

Comments and opinions welcomed and encouraged.

- Seth

Scurra
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Am I allowed to comment? ;)

I don't like freeing up the movement so much - at this rate you might as well say that you don't stop for anyone!

The "free" Demand seems interesting but it is probably irrelevant really: unless the idea is that you're going to allow someone to Demand the same token from the same character again if they lose the initial duel, which just feels wrong.

How about "draw back up to 4 cards at the start of your turn" (rather than at the end) but keeping the Draw card action. That way, a player can still replace a completed Mission card or a used Duel card, but they aren't simply automatically rewarded for starting a Duel...

sedjtroll
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Scurra wrote:
Am I allowed to comment? ;)

Of course!

Quote:
I don't like freeing up the movement so much - at this rate you might as well say that you don't stop for anyone!

Well, currently there are 9 pawns on the board. 4 of them have to stop when 7 of them are encountered and 2 of them have to stop when 4 of them are encountered. Under the proposed change, 4 would stop at 5 of the pawns and 2 would stop at 4 of the pawns. This would ease up movement a bit.

The suggestion comes from playtesters who get frustrated not being able to do much in a turn because all their possible moves are blocked.

I don't know if it's necessary though, and another thing I don't like about it is that it might be harder to explain the movement rules rather than simply saying that you stop if you encounter another character.

Quote:
The "free" Demand seems interesting but it is probably irrelevant really: unless the idea is that you're going to allow someone to Demand the same token from the same character again if they lose the initial duel, which just feels wrong.

I agree that it doesn't seem right to allow a double demand of the same token. What I do see it used as (and indeed this happened in a test game the other day) is running into a group and demanding a token (it was a horse that time), then using the demand action to demand a plot token (off a different character I think). I don't know if this is good or bad.

Quote:
How about "draw back up to 4 cards at the start of your turn" (rather than at the end) but keeping the Draw card action. That way, a player can still replace a completed Mission card or a used Duel card, but they aren't simply automatically rewarded for starting a Duel...

I definitely agree people shouldn't be awarded for starting a fight (winning a fight yes). The question is, isn't drawing at the beginning of your next turn functionally equivalent to drawing at the end of this one?

I am leaning more towards the Refill action (or just keep draw the way it is).

Anyone else have a comment?

Scurra
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sedjtroll wrote:
The question is, isn't drawing at the beginning of your next turn functionally equivalent to drawing at the end of this one?

No, it's quite clearly different. If you don't have a "spare" action to redraw your card, you could end up in a tight corner, whereas knowing that you get your card straight back is much less of a problem.

Quote:
Anyone else have a comment?

Where's the fun in that? ;-)) This way, everyone gets to see us arguing in public instead of just in PMs...

Scurra
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Reposted from Seth's overall report elsewhere:

Quote:
When Tyler and Stirler arrived we played All For One. I just got the new set of cards from Scurra, so we were able to use the new missions (and new mission types!) and the new board. It took a lot longer than I expected [2 hours] but the score was kinda close... Seth 12/ Tyler 9/ Chris 8/ Jacob 7. There were complaints that some of the missions were way harder than others, but I'm not convinced they're valid.
This is partly true: some of the missions are indeed harder than others, but a lot of it depends upon circumstance - after all, there are ways to get rid of those Missions when you realise that they are effectively impossible for you. It's a side-effect of trying to make sure that none of the missions are too easy! It was quite tough to ensure that no-one can get a mission card that they could do on their first or second turn from the initial starting set-up. As a result, some of the missions do become much more long-winded.

Quote:
Much of the complaining was by Tyler, who also thinks some of the characters are better than others. It occured to us that every single time he's played the game, in every incarnation, he's been randomly dealt Milady. That might be tainting his judgement. It should be easiest to do missions with Milady, but I think she doesn't suit his play style. He's done decently whenever he's played but won no more than once, and always felt like he's at a disadvantage.
Yes, it's true that I think there is a difference between the characters (it's very subtle for the Musketeers but a lot more noticeable with the other two), and I think you do have to approach the game differently. (And, as a slight riposte to Seth: now you see why I put two "gimme" missions in the new set for Milady :-)

Quote:
It seems like Scurra and I discussed this before, but since the "draw a card" rule was changed to be "refill your hand" I think it's important to nerf Rocheforts "Discard a card" ability to 1x/fight or he can just win every fight. Then again, maybe he should be allowed to run around and menace the Musketeers, maybe it would still be hard to win that way. Worth thinking about at least.

Yes, it's certainly now much easier to win duels with Rochefort but I think that should indeed tend to prompt him to be used as a duellist more often. This also improves the card-cycling (which is important.)

And as far as game-length goes, it may be that the number of favor tokens needs to be adjusted again?

sedjtroll
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Scurra wrote:
It was quite tough to ensure that no-one can get a mission card that they could do on their first or second turn from the initial starting set-up. As a result, some of the missions do become much more long-winded.

I didn't have any problem doing my missions. I completed a 3-token delivery, and could have completed another if I wanted to spend 1 more turn on it. But then,. maybe I just got 'lucky' with my draws...

I think it's fine as is, and Tyler and Chris (who's always made this complaint) were the only ones thinking that it was a problem.

Quote:
it's certainly now much easier to win duels with Rochefort but I think that should indeed tend to prompt him to be used as a duellist more often. This also improves the card-cycling (which is important.)

I don't know that it's important that you can cycle every card in your hand any time you want, at the effective cost of a turn. I guess it's not bad that way, but just 1 or 2 cards would probably be fine too.

As far as Dueling with Rochefort, I'd like to try a game in which Rochefort simply fights Musketeers as often as possible and ignores missions to see if he'd win.

Quote:
And as far as game-length goes, it may be that the number of favor tokens needs to be adjusted again?
I don't know about that. I think we were just getting used to the board and missions again. I think if we were to play again a couple of times it would be quicker. I see this game coming in at about 90 minutes, no less. That's with 4 players. I think with 3 it could be 75 maybe. 5 probably takes longer.

Oh, the good news is, Chris- ever the naysayer and historically hateful of this game- said it was definitely better. He also said that he wouldn't choose this game to play over any other game though... So I don't know how rave a review that is.

- Seth

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sedjtroll wrote:
I didn't have any problem doing my missions. I completed a 3-token delivery, and could have completed another if I wanted to spend 1 more turn on it. But then,. maybe I just got 'lucky' with my draws...
No, I think you just had a better grasp of how the game works. It certainly seems to be a game that simply suits some people better than others (and that doesn't necessarily seem to correlate with how much they like the game either.) I would expect three-token missions to be eminently completable - indeed, the new missions make them more likely as players are less prone to having their missions "hijacked" by someone else.

Quote:
I don't know that it's important that you can cycle every card in your hand any time you want, at the effective cost of a turn. I guess it's not bad that way, but just 1 or 2 cards would probably be fine too.
That's why I don't consider it a problem either.

Quote:
I see this game coming in at about 90 minutes, no less. That's with 4 players. I think with 3 it could be 75 maybe. 5 probably takes longer.

That sounds about right to me - I suspect it's actually quicker than that, but not by much.

Quote:
Oh, the good news is, Chris- ever the naysayer and historically hateful of this game- said it was definitely better. He also said that he wouldn't choose this game to play over any other game though... So I don't know how rave a review that is.

sedjtroll
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New rules! New Playtests! Good results!

I played a game of All For One recently (Hexacon 2 months ago), as well as a game last night and a game today. We are using updated rules, and the results were very positive. I will start a new thread in the playtest forum with the up to date rules and some playtest notes.

The main change was not really a change at all, but had to be made to change people's perception of the game. I wasn't sure it would work, but it has proven to have the intended effect. Here's what I mean:

One of the biggest and loudest complaints I'd had was the following. Games like princes of Florence and Tigris and Euphrates are good games, and in those games you have fewer actions than things you want to do. This creates tension, and makes for a really interesting game with agonizing decisions. This is all true. In All For One you had 3 actions per turn, but often times there were only 2 things you could reasonably do. People said they felt cheated out of their third action, and that the tension wasn't there because there wasn't more to do than actions to do them (like Tigris and PoF). Then those same people would also complain that the missions were hard to do...

I think those complaints came from a misunderstanding of the point of the game. The tension wasn't supposed to come from the limited actions, it was supposed to come from trying to figure out how to manage the board in order to complete your missions. The missions were supposed to be hard, as that's where the tension comes from.

So I decided to try removing the limited number of actions per turn. Instead, now you can do as many actions as youlike, but most of them are 1x/turn each. In the end, this had a very small impact on the turns themselves, for the most part you could do all the same things in a turn as you could before. Sometimes you can do one or two extra things. This change seems to have cured the misconception about limited actions.

In addition I've made it a bit easier to move around the board and transfer tokens around to facilitate doing missions. I believe this has made the game more appealing, and it has sped thegame up considerably.

Look for the post in the Playtesting forum (maybe I'll edit this and link it after it's done) for more info.

- Seth

sedjtroll
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All For One playtest - 11/26/05

Played a 4p game tonight, here's how it went:

<br />
PLAYER CHARACTER  SCORE (P/C) #MISSIONS<br />
Seth   Milady     13 (11/2)    5<br />
Mike   Rochefort  13 (6/7)     3<br />
Joe    D'Artagnan 10 (9/1)     4 or 5<br />
John   Porthos     8 (4/4)     3<br />

Joe (and of course I) had played before, John had been told the rules but hadn't played, and Mike had never seen it before. We went through the rules and the whole game, and in total it took less than an hour and a half- I think closer to 1:15.

The rules explanation went fine, but as usual the first turn suffered from the typical "everyone takes a minute to look at the board, find all the tokens they need for their missions, and where their destinations are..." This is, in my opinion, the biggest problem with the game, and I hope it can be solved graphically by organizing the information such that it's easier to take in. I think a note in the rulebook that everyone should take a moment to survey the board and their cards in hand wouldn' hurt either. I don't think the delay is a problem (if it's just the first turn each game), I think that people will be turned off by it is the issue.

I began the game by Activating MiLady (who happened to be my ID character) and moving her - picking up the 2 bonus tokens needed for a mission I had in hand (perhaps those 2 should not be right next to each other). She didn't move again for a number of turns because her path to the required token kept getting blocked by characters. I believe I did 2 other missions before finally completing the one I started first turn. That's the way the game is intended to work, by the way.

Everyone else started moving characters around as well. The newer players did seem to be floundering a little, trying to figure out what they were supposed to be doing, while Joe and I were confidently progressing our missions. Before too long, Mie and John figured out what they were supposed to be doing, though Mike seemed to grasp it much better than John.

Noone really fought over the use of any of the characters this game, though there were several times when a character blocked others' paths, either on purpose or incidentally.

Several players were doing missions with Rochefort, who built up 7 Favors over the course of the game... only one of which was from duelling, and that was a MIssion (not a demand). Not a lot of demanding tokens this game - I can recall maybe 1 demand which led to a fight, and 1 demand between the Cardinals Agents (who always agree to each others' demands).

I don't believe any player used a character's ability at all this game, which is unusual.

Final scores were 13-13-10-8, with Mike beating me on the tiebreaker which is fewest missions done. The reason it's fewest is because in theory that rewards people for doing 'bigger' missions - that is to say collecting more bonus tokens, or in general being more efficiant about the missions. However I got to thinking about it... in this case for example, Mike did 3 missions and I did 5. I had 11 points personally and only 2 on my character. Mike had more than half of his points from his character, many of which came from other players doing missions. Thus, perhaps the better tiebreaker is most missions accomplished, or perhaps better still, if total scores are tied, look at points earned by the player (ignoring points from the character).

In the end, John disliked the game because he said whenever he had figured out what he wanted to do, and what had to happen to get it done, then someone would move stuff around the board and he'd be all messed up, and he doesn't like games like that. I asked Mike if he saw that and he said "Yeah, but I liked it." Different strokes for different folks I guess...

Mike says he really liked All For One and that he'd play it again, so that's good. John evidently doesn't like that kind of game, which is ok too. I already knew Joe liked it, and of course, I'm a big fan ;)

jwarrend
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Re: All For One playtest - 11/26/05

sedjtroll wrote:

Final scores were 13-13-10-8, with Mike beating me on the tiebreaker which is fewest missions done. The reason it's fewest is because in theory that rewards people for doing 'bigger' missions - that is to say collecting more bonus tokens, or in general being more efficiant about the missions. However I got to thinking about it... in this case for example, Mike did 3 missions and I did 5. I had 11 points personally and only 2 on my character. Mike had more than half of his points from his character, many of which came from other players doing missions. Thus, perhaps the better tiebreaker is most missions accomplished, or perhaps better still, if total scores are tied, look at points earned by the player (ignoring points from the character).

I've struggled with a similar concern in Disciples, and the answer I've come up with temporarily is to simply have the tied players share victory. Because the VP tallies are typically in the low 30s, it's probably less common to have ties than in A41, although it does happen.

The dilemma there is that it seems logical to have the tiebreaker be "most Deeds done", but that explicitly rewards a "do a lot of Deeds" strategy in favor of the "do Deeds that target your goals" strategy.

The reality is that a tiebreaker may in some cases be little more than an editorial comment by the designer about what scoring path he happens to think is the most important. Your situation above is a great example of this. If you feel that you should have won the game on the grounds that you earned your VPs in a more manly way, then it's the VP system you should be looking at. In your game, players who use other players' characters assume the risk that they're giving away points to another player. Mike's high VP tally came from the conscious choice of the other players to use that character repeatedly, knowing that it was going to give one player some VPs. Perhaps the VP payout from your secret character should be less?

It's funny, Disciples has some of the same concerns. A player who performs a Deed gets 1 VP if someone else is in the town, and that player gets a VP as well. The nice thing about this is that you're never "giving away" points -- you're always earning exactly the same as the other players from this mechanic. And of course, there's the traitor mechanic, with which one player can win without necessarily having to "work as hard" for the win. I justify that by considering it to be a sort of group loss, since too-rapid movement of the traitor track is a result of the coooperative actions of the other players; in a sense, the same argument I'd use to say that Mike's shared victory is legit under your current system.

Quote:
In the end, John disliked the game because he said whenever he had figured out what he wanted to do, and what had to happen to get it done, then someone would move stuff around the board and he'd be all messed up, and he doesn't like games like that.

This has been one of my concerns about the game, that it would be too chaotic, but not having played, I obviously couldn't say whether it really happens or not. I don't mind highly interactive games, but I usually like it better in a context like Carcassonne, where another player can move in on your action by dropping a guy in your city, than where someone can completely undo something you've spent a few turns doing, and at no opportunity cost to himself. I wonder, have you ever tried a version of the game in which negotiation was allowed? ie, "If you bring your character over here now, I'll bring my character over there?" or some such. It might require open character identities.

Just a thought.

One last comment: your rating is still up in the A41 entry at the 'Geek. I assume that you rated it before you became a co-designer, but now that you are, you should probably take that down; no one is going to take a game seriously if one of the designers has rated it.

-Jeff

Scurra
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Re: All For One playtest - 11/26/05

jwarrend wrote:
sedjtroll wrote:
Thus, perhaps the better tiebreaker is most missions accomplished, or perhaps better still, if total scores are tied, look at points earned by the player (ignoring points from the character).

I've struggled with a similar concern in Disciples, and the answer I've come up with temporarily is to simply have the tied players share victory. [...]
The reality is that a tiebreaker may in some cases be little more than an editorial comment by the designer about what scoring path he happens to think is the most important. Your situation above is a great example of this.

This is a good observation and should be added to a reference list somewhere.
In the case of A41, I did think that a tie-breaker was necessary right from the outset as the scores were always likely to be tight. But there have been several different ones, and I'm definitely inclining towards the "player excluding their character" score one now.

As for the other issue of one of the players not liking the game because they didn't "get" it; this has been a perennial issue for me throughout the development process and I think I've finally come to accept that some players will be like that. Given that I think A41 is a "puzzle" game, I imagine that people who don't get, say, Richochet Robots, will probably always have trouble with it.

--

jwarrend wrote:
One last comment: your rating is still up in the A41 entry at the 'Geek. I assume that you rated it before you became a co-designer, but now that you are, you should probably take that down; no one is going to take a game seriously if one of the designers has rated it.
In Seth's defence, I would note that he only rated it an 8 ;-))
(He was responsible for adding it though: it never crossed my mind to do so!) Interestingly, Tom Vasel's "Musings on..." column this week is about exactly this subject. I haven't rate A41 because I felt I was too close to the game. Having said that, I *have* rated a couple of games I was involved quite heavily in playtesting, so I guess you could call me a hypocrite... :-)

sedjtroll
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No news is good news... but this news isn't so bad!

I just got back from KublaCon, and immediately before I left to get on the plane I had a conversation with Mark Kaufmann of Days of Wonder - here's the conversation:
Seth> You guys don't accept submissions anymore, do you?
Mark> Not usually, unless we know who you are and what you've done.
Seth> Oh, that's too bad, because I have this game, that just almost won the Kubla Game Design Contest, and I think it's just the kind of thing that Days of Wonder would produce.
Mark> Here's my card, e-mail me a 1 page summary and if it looks interesting we'll ask for a rulebook.

The savvy reader might notice the part where it says that All For One almost won the game design contest. Here's the story on that:

[rewind tape]
I was planning on entering Terra Prime in the contest. I even started making a rulebook that one might actually glean how to play the game from. However, due to a confluence of events (and my lazy, procrastinating nature), it did not get done by the submission deadline. I e-mailed Julie (the person in charge) and asked if I could send it on Monday or whatever, and she said sure. However, Monday came and went and it was not ready :( So I gave up, decided I was a loser, and I just wouldn't enter. They say you can enter when you get there, but last time it was full by that time.

[fastforward to first day of con]
I showed up, and the first thing that happened was Julie walked up to me and said "did you bring your game". I didn't know what she was talking about at first, but quickly realized, said I hadn't finished the TP rules, but that I had All For One. I've been pretty much kicking myself for over 2 weeks that I simply didn't send that in before the due date!

As it happens, the playtesters ABSOLUTELY LOVED All For One. This is of course the same proto that I've had the whole time, with the exact rulebook I made for the JSP project. I have never made anything for the Story Track version.

During the con, Julie walked up to James Earnest (who happened to be playing Terra Prime with me at the time), and I said "by the way, this is the game I was GOING to enter." To which she replied "I'm glad you entered the game you did." We all had a good laugh at that comment because it could have been a way of saying that TP looked terrible... but what she really meant was that she liked A41.

In fact, she liked it a lot. A41 and the guy that won were, she said, hands down the judges favorite games. They're both wonderful and ready to publish. She and another tester were excited to talk to me about the game after the announcement of the winner. I asked them a few questions like what it was they didn't like, etc. Here's some of the stuff they said.

- Remove the blocking, let characters move past each other. This might have been less of a problem, except that it seems they did not use the horses at all. That's because they didn't know where to put them. This is my fault entirely, as I think I specifically recall deleting the sentance that said "place the horse tokens on the brown circles", intending to draw horse symbols on the board. It appears I never did draw in the symbols. Oops. I guess it wasn't obvious enough that there were exactly 2 extra tokens, and exactly 2 empty spaces on the board... how embarassing that was (in particular when I said "That's in the rules, it's right here..." and looked it up to find it gone)

- Remove the signature moves - extraneous.

- Lighten background - they LOVED the map, but they thought there was a path between S and Notre Dame.

- They LOVED the guard mechanic. I guess it took them a few minutes to figure out just how it worked, but once they did they thought it was terriffic.

- They LOVED the Secret IDs mechanic. When I asked about that, and mentioned a different version with story tracks instead of the secret IDs, they said it sounded like adding complication and they didn't like the sound of it. I think they probably had the same reaction as I did, after playing the Secret ID way and liking it.

- They said the duels took a little long and were bogging down the game (well, Julie said that, the other guy didn't agree) - I asked what she meant by that and she basically siad she thought there weren't enough cards in hand or something, or that you would use a duel card and then realize you were working on that mission. However, I gleaned that they misused the One For All! card a little... they didn't pick it back up after 'abstaining' from the duel. That might alleviate the problem (as it's supposed to).

- They thought the One For All! card was great, and it didn't confuse them by having all those different uses. However, as mentioned, they did miss a detail of one of them.

All in all a good response for All For One!

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Re: No news is good news... but this news isn't so bad!

sedjtroll wrote:
As it happens, the playtesters ABSOLUTELY LOVED All For One.

Lest anyone think that Seth is exaggerating the judges' reaction to his (and David's) brainchild, I was there. And...

...they ABSOLUTELY LOVED All for One. Their enthusiasm was a delightful thing to see.

I played A41 a year ago, and I enjoyed it too. I hope I'll see it on a store shelf someday, because I wanna buy a copy. Congratulations, Seth and David!

sedjtroll
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Re: All For One playtest - 11/26/05

Replying to a very old comment...

jwarrend wrote:

The reality is that a tiebreaker may in some cases be little more than an editorial comment by the designer about what scoring path he happens to think is the most important. Your situation above is a great example of this. If you feel that you should have won the game on the grounds that you earned your VPs in a more manly way, then it's the VP system you should be looking at. In your game, players who use other players' characters assume the risk that they're giving away points to another player. Mike's high VP tally came from the conscious choice of the other players to use that character repeatedly, knowing that it was going to give one player some VPs. Perhaps the VP payout from your secret character should be less?

I'd like to address this comment by saing that I'm happy with a player winning by other people using their character and giviong them points. In the case where that player tied with another player that did more missions and earned more points on their own, then between the two I believe the game is about doing missions and earning points so I would prefer to reward the player who had more points of their own. If that's "more manly" then so be it.

Quote:
It's funny, Disciples has some of the same concerns. A player who performs a Deed gets 1 VP if someone else is in the town, and that player gets a VP as well. The nice thing about this is that you're never "giving away" points -- you're always earning exactly the same as the other players from this mechanic.

In All For One it's the same thing. When you do a mission, you always score at least as many points as whoever you give points to. Exactly the same as you mention here. The character gets 1VP, and the player gets 1 (or more) VPs. Personally I htink the mechanic works well in both games, and I don't see either one as a problem.

Quote:
have you ever tried a version of the game in which negotiation was allowed? ie, "If you bring your character over here now, I'll bring my character over there?" or some such. It might require open character identities.

I have not, and I'm not a fan of that kind of thing... but it's not precluded by the rules as they are. One could request an opponent pick up the Queen en route (which costs them nothing), and in return they could offer to move a certain token or character a certain way. It's not something I generally do, but that's because I'm bad at, and dislike, negotiation.

Quote:
One last comment: your rating is still up in the A41 entry at the 'Geek. I assume that you rated it before you became a co-designer, but now that you are, you should probably take that down; no one is going to take a game seriously if one of the designers has rated it.

I actually entered the game in the database (and then rated it) after I became a co-designer. I have no intention of taking it down, and I don't believe anyone important will fail to take it seriously as I have explained what the game is in the description.

By the way, thanks for the in depth reply here. I'm sorry I never replied to it - though I did read it before.

- Seth

jwarrend
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Re: All For One playtest - 11/26/05

Quote:
In All For One it's the same thing. When you do a mission, you always score at least as many points as whoever you give points to.

It's not exactly the same, though, since in Disciples the payout is immediate and you see who you're giving the points to. I suppose that could be part of the fun of the mechanic in A41 -- do you take the risk of piling points on D'Artagnan, assuming that no one has him as their secret character? Or do you spread the points around to make sure no one character gets too big?

sedjtroll wrote:

I actually entered the game in the database (and then rated it) after I became a co-designer. I have no intention of taking it down, and I don't believe anyone important will fail to take it seriously as I have explained what the game is in the description.

I'm willing to bet you a free copy of the game that when the game is picked up for publication, if the publisher learns that you have rated the game yourself, he will ask you to take your rating down.

Can you find ANY other game where the designer has given his game a rating? I really, really don't think it's a good idea. You're not giving anyone any new information. Everyone expects you to think your game is great.

At any rate, congrats about the good news. Sounds like some influential folks are taking notice of the game!

-Jeff

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