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the game is good, but some elements just doesn't feel right

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Jimmy
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Joined: 01/23/2009

Hi all...
I'm in the testing phase of a game I designed. the design feels good, no particular problems but some elements are bothering me, it's not problems but just some things that feel not right. I also find these elements in the Ingenious board game of Reiner Knizia.
I'll count these elements here and write why each of them feels not right to me, I would like to hear your thoughts on my design perspective (as players and designers) and if my concern about these elements is real or not .

in short about my game: players play cards from their hands to the board and try to complete sets (cards of the same type near each other, just like getting points in Ingenious), players score the sets they form by their size. players use sets that previously formed by other players on the board and can add cards to that, by doing so the players form sets that worth more points (again like in Ingenious you score more points for longer lines with the same symbol).

so what bothers me:
*) the fact that players use other players sets on the board and get more points on these sets. isn't that a huge turn-off for a player to create a set knowing that other players will use it and even get more points on that?? isn't that feel broken?

*) in Ingenious, do you consider the procedure of scoring your tiles to be a complicated one? as a game designers what is your red line for complicated procedures?

larienna
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I think the difference

I think the difference between you game and ingenious is the space. In ingenious, there might be a situation where there is no space left to use your opponent's tile. While in your game, you have access to all the board

I think one of the thing you could do is to make something remove cards from the board OR have a mechanic that lock some cards. Preventing to use them.

A second idea would be to find a second way to use your cards. So that the players have 2 options with the same card and according to how they play the cards the outcome of the game will change.

Else, it could end up pretty obvious which card you are going to play. If yo give to the same set of cards to different players, and end up with the same results, then I consider your game to have a dominant strategy.

A third idea would be that you can only combine card with the players which are next to you (left-right).

Hope it helps.

RacNRoll Gaming
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Use a Scrabble like mentality...

If you score the original set as double and the "parasite" set as single points for the originally laid cards then you might be able to fix it. Much in the way that in Scrabble only the first player to use the Triple Word spaces (etc scores it)

Example...Player A lays down a 3 card set and scores 6...Player B adds 2 to that set and scores 7 (2 for each of their cards and 1 for each of the original cards)

hulken
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Joined: 04/18/2009
My opinion

Jimmy wrote:
*) the fact that players use other players sets on the board and get more points on these sets. isn't that a huge turn-off for a player to create a set knowing that other players will use it and even get more points on that?? isn't that feel broken?

*) in Ingenious, do you consider the procedure of scoring your tiles to be a complicated one? as a game designers what is your red line for complicated procedures?

The first one I do not thik is a problem, in it lies basicly the whole interaction in the game. How do I score more points than you, can I do so and block you. Knowing when to block and when not to is realy important.

The second one. I do not think it is complicated, and no one I have taought the game to thought so ither. You show them how it is done and they learn after two three tiles have scored, if not before.

The onley problem as I se it is that the game can sometimes play a litle slow compared to the gaming experiens. (a bad game is a long game that do not give you a feeling of doing mutch) And a litle tip, the game becomes mutch better if you play it in teams.

I hope it helps somewhat.

Pastor_Mora
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Just some thoughts

I've never played Ingenious, but I'm amazed that there's a Knizia's game without an auction! Have you thought about HOW the players get their cards?

I also first thought about Scrabble when I read your question. Seems fine as an alternative.

Else, players can be made to use different card types. For example, think of poker. Player one only uses green cards, so he can score a x2 set, a x3 set, or a x4 set on his own. But to score a 3+2 set (full), he'll need 2/3 cards from another color (from another player).

Another idea would be to change the scoring objective for a collection of sets objective, that is, that each player must collect a set of each type to win. So you don't actually collect more points for building the same set over and over again.

As for the red line question. I only add mechanics (any) if I have to. If there's anything complex in the game I think it should be there because you need it, not because you fancy it.

Just some thoughts. Keep thinking!

Jimmy
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Joined: 01/23/2009
larienna wrote: I think one

larienna wrote:

I think one of the thing you could do is to make something remove cards from the board OR have a mechanic that lock some cards. Preventing to use them.

A second idea would be to find a second way to use your cards. So that the players have 2 options with the same card and according to how they play the cards the outcome of the game will change.

Else, it could end up pretty obvious which card you are going to play. If yo give to the same set of cards to different players, and end up with the same results, then I consider your game to have a dominant strategy.
Hope it helps.

There is a mechanism that lock cards on the boards. when you play a card into the board the player next to you will not be able to use that card to complete sets. I also thought that there need to be a cleaning action, but didn't find a way to insert it into the game.

about the dominant strategy thing, I think that most of these games have a dominant strategy (my game, Ingenious and others), in each of your turns you are looking of a move that will produce the maximum of points. isn't that whats going to happen with Ingenious also?

RacNRoll Gaming wrote:
If you score the original set as double and the "parasite" set as single points for the originally laid cards then you might be able to fix it. Much in the way that in Scrabble only the first player to use the Triple Word spaces (etc scores it)

the thing is that when you play a card you affect the location of other cards, so it won't work here, but thanks for mentioning scrabble, it's a game that also behave similar to mine so it worth to look into it.

Pastor_Mora wrote:

Another idea would be to change the scoring objective for a collection of sets objective, that is, that each player must collect a set of each type to win. So you don't actually collect more points for building the same set over and over again.

that will make cards to be irrelevant as the game progress. once you complete a set you no longer interested in cards of that set type.

I'll try to weaken the "parasite" or to restrict it.

larienna
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Quote:about the dominant

Quote:
about the dominant strategy thing, I think that most of these games have a dominant strategy (my game, Ingenious and others), in each of your turns you are looking of a move that will produce the maximum of points. isn't that whats going to happen with Ingenious also?

Partially true. Because I think In ingenious there could be in interest for example, to wait in order for the move to be worth more points. Or you might be interesting in boosting a specific color to get an extra action instead of making the more with the most points.

So no, you do not always make the move with the most points. And I think that could be something you want players to do. Else it's the player who's better in math that wins and there is no strategy (decisions to make).

rcjames14
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Fungibility

Strategy is, for lack of a better term, delayed gratification. You forgo a certain immediate advantage for a larger one later on. And, a game with a lot of strategic options presents the players with a complicated set of choices about immediate vs. long term advantage.

Adding chance does not change this... it simply makes the calculation of benefits subject to probability and you use the term 'Expected Benefit' instead of certain benefit. Of course, our minds are not very good at probability so adding dice or cards to something with no strategic decision somehow makes it a game. Craps, blackjack, chutes and ladders, bridge...

What creates strategy (as opposed to probabilistic optimization) in card games is the hidden information which each player retains alone. You know something about your hand that the other player doesn't know and he knows something that you don't know. Both of you can guess... but ultimately you can be outmaneuvered, fooled or misdirected by the other player because you don't know for sure. Or, he could just have gotten lucky. But, you don't know that until the debrief.

In order to have misdirection, a card game needs some way of signaling. Most of the time this comes through commitment of resources to one course of action as opposed to others. You may be making a minimum commitment to avoid disclosure, but that itself may be a question of forgoing the immediate advantage of making a greater commitment. But, like poker, once all your cards are revealed, you are completely committed and it is no longer a game (only chance).

For your game to have strategy, you will want to present players with multiple options about card matching which are limited in either space or time. A match may only be able to be done in a specific location or on the next turn. So, players have to decide whether to do it at that time. But, they also need the possibility of committing those same resources to other matches. So, the cards need maximum core fungibility with temporal or spatial limitation.

In Gin, do you use the 4 of diamonds to make a run or a set? The answer to that is probably heavily influenced by whether you have a 3 of diamonds or not also. But, it is also based upon whether you have seen the 3 of diamonds discarded or whether you think your opponent is collecting 4s. Gin is a bad example... because without the knock option, it is pretty much a game of chance. But, it is a clear illustration of the fungibility of cards and their temporal and spatial limits.

So, how do you build this into your game? I'm not sure. Making a card game with simple numbers is extremely challenging because you face hundreds of years of competition and a very tight set of constraints. And, even if you do find something interesting... most like it will remind people of either a game that has already been published or is a playing card game (ie. in the public domain).

Unfortunately, without knowing more about exactly what novelty to matching you have in mind, I'm not sure I can be much more help.

Jimmy
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Joined: 01/23/2009
about the definition of

about the definition of strategy, I'm not sure you must give up a certain immediate advantage in order to get more advantage in the future.

about the fungibility... interesting word but my game doesn't use these kinds of elements, you don't know anything about the other players hand, even what cards they are getting and bluffing has a little meaning.

ReneWiersma
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Jimmy wrote:about the

Jimmy wrote:
about the definition of strategy, I'm not sure you must give up a certain immediate advantage in order to get more advantage in the future.

Really? I think it is pretty good definition. How would you define strategy?

As for your game: a good scoring system can go a long way of fixing your game. If you don't want players parasiting on other player's sets just let them score less points for it!

Jimmy
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Joined: 01/23/2009
About strategy, it can be

About strategy, it can be that a strategy doesn't always produce the best score each turn, but it can, even if by accident.

For me the definition of a strategy is an overall list of actions (in the game) the player performs, a good game will present the players many actions to score points or gains profit/advantage, but what is the most profitable action for that player?? is there a list of actions that will be profitable to the player? if so then we can call this list of actions a strategy. the profit of the actions can come in many ways: the naive way is to look for the most profitable move each turn but it can also be a combination of two or more actions or focusing on one or two actions regardless of how profitable they are.

A strategy is more elegant (or beautiful) if the list of actions are not clear at first, if the final outcome is not clearly obvious (that includes the "give up immediate profit/advantage in order to produce greater profit/advantage in the future") . As a player it is a joy (very satisfying) to discover such strategy and as a designers we thrive to that.

As for the topic, I will be happy to focus on the question below, I feel like i miss something about that.
*) In Ingenious (or any other board game) the fact that players use other players sets on the board and get more points on these sets. isn't that a huge turn-off for a player to create a set knowing that other players will use it and even get more points on that?? isn't that feel broken?

rcjames14
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Good Designs

In formal theory, strategy is a heuristical map of the phase space, or more plainly put, a set of rules that dictates what you should do under every choice you are confronted with. It is assumed to be highly instrumental in nature... which is to say, goal oriented with little interest in the value of the means except insofar as they relate to obtaining the ends. In a formal model of a mathematically complete game, this would involve an extensive decision-tree analysis which eventually ends in all the possible routes to the final outcome. If it is a two player game, this outcome will be either player one wins, player two wins or it is a draw. And, once the complete strategy is known (such as in checkers) there is no point in playing the game because it is a matter of deductive logic to see how, from reasoning backwards, it only matters what position you start in.

What this all means for game design is that strategy is what you do to win the game. And, the game is only going to be strategically interesting to play if there are too many choices and too much complexity to be able to reason backwards. So, players must make educated guesses as to whether they should adopt course A over course B at any given moment, knowing full well that the other person will respond to their choices with their own educated guesses. So, the real game is being played on the level of knowledge of outcomes, where the premium is put on counter-intuitive advantages. Like, as you said, "it is a joy to discover" an outcome that is not clearly obvious. Since obvious advantages will be known to both players and anticipated, it is precisely the decisions which don't appear to be advantageous (because they aren't immediately beneficial) that make up what most people think of what they talk about strategy.

But, the role of designers is different than players. A player's joy comes in finding strategies... whereas a designer's joy comes in creating a circumstance in which simple rules result in complex behaviors that give rise to patterns and allow strategic thinking to emerge. But, if those strategies are all known as a consequence of the design, then there's really nothing left for the player to do. No discoveries to be made. So, much like Richard Garfield's approach to Magic, designers build frameworks upon which others build strategies. The framework needs to be able to unambiguously resolve the interaction of every possible choice... but ideally the arrangement of those possibilities are limitless.

And, to answer your question about Ingenious... it could be a bad game. But, let's assume that it isn't and figure out what makes it a complex and compelling game.

Players are limited by what pieces they have in hand and by the fact that you cannot play just one hex at a time - you have to play two. So, even though you may really want one particular move, you may have to give your opponents an opportunity in order to do so. However, there is also the issue of space limitation, so you cannot simply play a match wherever you want. It only works when it is adjacent and contiguous adjacency is constantly being challenged by multicolor pieces and the size of the board. So, you may not be able to prevent people from poaching even if you wanted to. It's kind of built into the mechanic that the game escalates.

However, knowing this, you can watch what the other players are playing and what colors they are competing for to get a sense of what they still have in their hand and what and where you might be able to play towards the end to your advantage. But, the game is really not about preventing other people from scoring as much as scoring faster, better than them. Since everyone is subject to the same predation, it is a game for the consummate opportunist, not just the average one, who can predict what people will likely do, and do them one better.

However, given this, the multiplayer game only really functions as long as the players are completely self-interested and rational maximizers. If one player knows that they are not going to win, he can start to play suboptimally and become a king-maker. Which, to someone who is going to lose, is often tempting consolation prize.

Fortunately, for Knizia, the game escalates so quickly that by the time that most players realize that they are going to lose, there is little that they could collectively do to stop the winner even if they wanted to.

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