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Numbble - A Sumof2 Variant

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rcjames14
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Here's my own version of Sumof2 meets Scrabble.

http://www.evertidegames.com/2010/10/numbble-strategic-but-fun/

There aren't point values assigned to the individual tokens as per Scrabble, but you'll quickly figure out why that's not a good idea. I believe that there is already too many things to consider when you take your turn - too many numbers to add and keep track of - that it won't actually be fun.

But, I told ichbin I'd post the design. So, I'll let you guys be the judge.

ichbin
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Joined: 09/21/2010
Change the name

You have to change the name because of this :

http://www.pdatopsoft.com/PalmOS/Numbble

Problem of trademark maybe?

I suggest numbubble.
You could even draw the pawns like bubbles.

Steve
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Questions and Comments

1). It looks like a very nice game. Because I do not have a Google Docs account, I couldn't see the full-size graphic but from what I saw, it looked very straight forward.

2). Is there a substitution minimum? For instance, would I be able to substitute a "4" that I had with a "4" on the board?

3). Is there a bonus if you replace an entire row, column or the longest diagonal (5)?

4). Are you allowed to replace "1 for 1" patterns on the board? For instance, if I have "3 3 9 7" and I see a "3 3 9 7" on the board, can I literally replace those pieces on the board or do they need to be different numbers?

rcjames14
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Cool Suggestions

ichbin wrote:
Problem of trademark maybe?

Quite right. I knew it was too good to be true. Sounded too natural. Too bad that such a good App name is taken by such a poor looking game.

Steve wrote:
1). It looks like a very nice game. Because I do not have a Google Docs account, I couldn't see the full-size graphic but from what I saw, it looked very straight forward.

I have opened up the diagram to anyone with the link. It should work for you.

I considered the idea that each replacement number must be different than the ones you collect.... but I think it might unreasonably restrict the game. In fact, I think it would make it impossible to score a 5 token line if that were the case. So, I figured that I would leave it up to the player's strategy to decide. Ultimately, since you win the game by making the longest runs you can, swapping a 4 for a 4 probably represents a lost opportunity (unless it is the end of the game).

Because the number of tokens you can collect is so tight, I'm not inclined to give extra points for a 'tetris' (a five long swap). I think that simply getting that one extra token is reward enough. Ultimately, with 25 tokens on the board, the players are competing over the 55 other pieces in the bag. So, 5 out of the 55 is a big deal... it's nearly 1/5 the number you need to win.

ichbin
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Joined: 09/21/2010
Suggestion

The game will be more exciting if :
- each set of tokens numbered from 1 to 9 have some symbol or color
- the collected tokens allow the player to build "hands" with different points (like poker) : same color, same symbol, same number, sequence and so on.

With the suggestion above it will be easy to thematize the game.

rcjames14
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The Secret Sauce

I agree. But, I'm currently at a loss for how to add that additional element without over-taxing the players during their turns. As is, I think that the game has too many immediate options in the way that you form sets. So, if you add color collection to it, you will double or triple the time that is required to evaluate your move.

What the game really needs is a way to reduce options on the front end (what you do each turn) and boost strategy on the backend (what you create as a result of your many small decisions). I'm beginning to think that the design needs to move in a different direction in order to accomplish that. Something which involves patterns which emerge on the board. But, I haven't yet found it.

Until then, it remains a rather simplistic (read repetitive) numerical game.

By the way, here's the revised version:
http://www.evertidegames.com/2010/10/sumbble-simple-strategic-but-fun/

ichbin
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Suggestion

rcjames14 wrote:
What the game really needs is a way to reduce options on the front end (what you do each turn) and boost strategy on the backend (what you create as a result of your many small decisions). I'm beginning to think that the design needs to move in a different direction in order to accomplish that. Something which involves patterns which emerge on the board. But, I haven't yet found it.

Until then, it remains a rather simplistic (read repetitive) numerical game.

By the way, here's the revised version:
http://www.evertidegames.com/2010/10/sumbble-simple-strategic-but-fun/

Hi,

Here is my suggestion to add some fun to the game.
Each player will have 4 rings of his color.
Player in turn replace 2,3 or 4 tokens under the rules above and put on a top of each placed token a ring. Player playing next turn is not allowed to use the tokens with a ring on their top.
But any player in turn has to renew the ring placement before playing.
You play you place rings you wait for your opponent to play then when in turn you remove the previous rings and play new tokens and so on.
I hope it will add some fun.

rcjames14
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'Fun Factor'

The ring effectively prevents the other player from capitalizing on your play and allows you to set yourself up for the next turn. It adds the 'possession' element to the game that we were talking about with Sumof2 in a novel way. So, in addition to having a choice about what you play in your hand and where you play it, you also can 'block' your opponent. Interesting...

The thing that I think compromises the 'fun factor' of the game the most is the combination problem. Since you can combine the tokens in your hand in hundreds of ways as well as the thousands of ways to combine the tokens on the board... it's going to be a search problem every turn. It is nice to have a lot of ways that you can combine things, but I feel like it might be too much considering that the board doesn't do anything to limit them in time. So, every turn is going to feel like every other turn... and each will take a long time to decide what to do.

I feel like this is going to quickly become repetitive and rather non-interesting from a strategic point of view. Because there is no sense of 'ground' that you control, the entire board is fair game to both players, and the only thing you can do is hope that the other player doesn't have the right combination of numbers to make as many matches as you.

What I think the game needs is a way to either become more strategic, or less so. I don't know if you've seen the iPhone App, Numbl... but it is a similar summation game... only the goal is to compete against time to find the right combination of numbers to add up to the target number. When you find the right numbers, they are eliminated from the board and the target number changes to reflect a different combination of the remaining numbers. You finish the board, by eliminating all the numbers before an opponent.

The advantage to Numbl is that you are only searching once... for the correct summation to your target. The target never changes. As a result, it is a game of quickness. They can get away with this because it's a digital game. But, it's hard to see how it would work as a multiplayer (or single player) tabletop game... since you need the AI to select target numbers for you.

The reason I added the swapping rules was so that the board remains full. But, you could implement instead a target number approach, where you remove the tokens from the board... and once all the tokens are gone, you end the round. However, this is just a race and it's hard to see how there would be any strategy in this. At least when you control what enters the board, you control the way the game develops.

But, the cost is a time consuming search that doesn't change each turn. So, what I think the game needs for the tabletop is a way for the options to be reduced as a result of strategy. Perhaps it has a war element to it, where you're fighting over control of territory and summation is the mechanism of attack. Perhaps, what you are trying to do is influence the shape of the board so that in the end, your half of it has more points than the other. Or perhaps there are rules regarding what tokens you can claim as the prize of war.

I don't really know... I'm having difficulty seeing that part clearly. The part where you go from being able to combine numbers on the board any way you wish to a mechanic where there numbers which are yours and numbers which are mine and how I can make a move that you cannot undo and slowly limit your options over time.

I feel like it needs this 'limited options over time' element to both solve the combination problem and to be strategic and fun.

ichbin
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Let me try this way

Instead of sets numbered from 1 to 9 let us create 10 sets numbered from 1 to 8.
The board will be divided in 2 equal territories (1 for each player).
What is the best topology? 8-8 or 4-4-4-4 or 2-2-2-2-...2 or 1-1-1-....1 or randomized
I do not know. Playtesting will give us the best answer.
Each player place alternatively one set numbered from 1 to 8 in his territory.
The same playing rules apply.
You change only the victory conditions. The game ends when one of the players runs out of tokens.
You sum the tokens on each territory.
You subtract the tokens unused from the score of the player who did not use all his tokens. The winner will be the one with less points.
One rule should be added to balance the game : if the player who played first at the start of the game run out of tokens then he has to wait until his opponent plays to end the game. If not the game ends.

TrekNoid
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I like it...

rcjames14 wrote:
I'm having difficulty seeing that part clearly. The part where you go from being able to combine numbers on the board any way you wish to a mechanic where there numbers which are yours and numbers which are mine and how I can make a move that you cannot undo and slowly limit your options over time.

A couple of thoughts that occur to me...

I like this game idea... I may mock up a board and play with my friends the next time we get together.

Some thoughts:

1.) It seems like there's some inherent strategy here. By replacing 6/4 with 9/1, I'm taking one of the 1s out of my hand, which is going to limit me playing near the end, when potential sums are going to be harder.

2.) You could also consider allowing for swapping equal values, but with unequal pieces... So, I swap my 8/5 for 1/2/3/8... I get two more pieces that limit my opponents available pool to pull from. This would encourage large plays early, but limit options later.

3.) Only allow redrawing 2 tiles per turn... Then, I might score a 4-number pile early, but I only have 5 tiles on my next turn to choose from. If I score 2 4-number piles in a row, I might end up with very little to choose from in my third round.

4.) Honestly, I would lose the fractions. It makes it less likely that younger members can play. Maybe instead there could be a few wild cards that you can play as *any* number, but once they are down can't be picked up (except by another wild card)... Conversely, you might consider a second board, for children, that's 4x4, and only contains the numbers 1-5.

These are all just off-the-top-of-my-head... Like I said, once I actually play it, it may be fine.

ichbin
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Here is a solution to ....

You wrote :

"Since you can combine the tokens in your hand in hundreds of ways as well as the thousands of ways to combine the tokens on the board... it's going to be a search problem every turn".

I have a new solution to limit the combination number.
Each is given 12 strings (it could be more) at the start of game.
Player can use 1 or 2 strings in his opponent turn.
He place 1 (or 2) rings on the top of 1 (or 2) tokens placed on the board such as the player in turn must use 1 (or 2) of the "ringed" tokens in his combination. But if the player who have decided to place 2 rings he have to place them on the same row or the same column.
Any ring used is discarded after each combination.
Player can use their rings until they run out of rings.
Maybe 12 is not enough.
In the case of one ring placed on the top of one token the player in turn have to choose the line or the column. So the combinations are reduced drastically. In the case of 2 rings the player in turn have only one row or one column to choose in.
More than that placing rings will be a way to build some strategy.
And if you want the game to be without hidden information you can rule that the players have to put all their tokens face up.

rcjames14
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A New Direction - A New Challenge

TrekNoid wrote:
It seems like there's some inherent strategy here. By replacing 6/4 with 9/1, I'm taking one of the 1s out of my hand, which is going to limit me playing near the end, when potential sums are going to be harder.

I believe that you are right. I'm afraid though that the strategy that does exist is overwhelmed by chance in what you draw (and what is available each turn). Currently, there is no good way to 'save' something for later. Because it is always optimal to match 4 numbers if you can. A seven token hand is only good for two rounds of planning. Now... what I think would work out well is a design where you play cards in your hand with numerical values (as the sum of two or more numbers) to either claim tokens on the board or to move them around. So, let's say you have a 11 card, you could play that to either collect (or rearrange) a 4 and 7.

In this situation, a hand of 7 cards would allow you to engage in long term planning and you would solve the combinatorial explosion problem, as well as the cognitive memory problem, because everything would have to sum up to the cards you have. This would also restrict the choices you have a lot and allow you to maneuver the pieces with much more strategic planning.

As a App, this could be similar to Bejeweled, where you play cards to claim numbers and they are replaced by new numbers that 'fall down' from the top.

Or, it could be a done with levels, where each level has a certain number of tokens and an equivalent number of cards - 1. When you play a card, you must sum two numbers on the table next to each other, remove one and move the other one to replace the one your removed. Your job is to figure out the order to play and move numbers so that you eliminate all but one number. The computer could dynamically generate a sequence using a random (staggered) walk, and then deal you the exact cards you need to follow that walk. Your job is to figure out the walk from what you are dealt and what you see. I see there being 15 levels. The first level is 2 tokens, 1 card and it is pretty obvious how you get down to 1 token. The second level would be 3 tokens, 2 cards... and so on until you get to the hardest level which is 16 tokens, 15 cards. This could be very challenging if both the values on the tokens and the walk is chosen randomly. This would essentially be the numerical equivalent of the peg jumper game.

However, both of these dynamics are not very well suited to a tabletop game. So, if it were to be played head to head, there would need to be a different set of rules and objectives. I'm not sure you want a mechanic that removes tokens because the game area might quickly break down. But, I can see how you would re-arrange them either in a way that is fun. I mean, is it as simple as dividing the tokens evenly up between two colors. Your job is to remove as many of your opponents tokens as you can using this remove/move pairwise mechanic. The game would end when no one can move any more and the person with the highest total value tokens remaining wins. Or, should it involve zones on the board which belong to the players and the object is to rearrange the tokens to either 'capture' the opponents zone, or when the game ends, have the highest value tokens in your zone.

Either way, it seems like there needs to be some sense of token possession in order for the game to be interesting. That possession could come from the token colors or the underlying territory, but it needs to somehow limit what options you have. Otherwise, it will seem like everything that you do can be undone by your opponent playing the exact same matching card. So, is a remove/move a capture, conceptually? Where you can only move your own pieces to capture with a card which adds up to the total of that piece + an adjacent piece you wish to capture.

Or, is the numerical values intrinsic to the board. So and the tokens acquire value/meaning only due to spot they are on?

Or something else?

TrekNoid
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Another thought...

rcjames14 wrote:
Or, should it involve zones on the board which belong to the players and the object is to rearrange the tokens to either 'capture' the opponents zone, or when the game ends, have the highest value tokens in your zone.

Maybe the board tokens are two-sided? And, instead of capturing then, you flip tokens to your color? The board tokens are drawn from a different set of numbers, with each player placing the tokens with their color up (or even down, if they think that's a strategic advantage).

The game then becomes how to control the board, rather than remove cards.

You could give a player an opportunity to replace a number on the board with a new random by discarding their hand, maybe?

Just a thought... I haven't really given it a lot of thought as to how this changes things... Though I still think there's a strategic advantage to holding your lower cards for near the end of the game... Higher cards can only match themselves or higher, so low cards give you better opportunity to add-up to a higher card.

rcjames14
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Brilliant

The idea of double sided tokens is very intriguing. That way, you can introduce control/possession without removal. What if each side also had a different number as well? Maybe a 0 is paired with a 9. A 1 with an 8. Etc... That way, you would know the identity of all the objects but the composition of the strategic environment would change just by flipping. You wouldn't have to move or swap pieces and you would still end up with a wide variety of different summation options. What if the fundamental mechanic is you play a card and you flip over the two or more tokens which sum to it along one line? Then you draw a card and it is the other player's turn. What if the victory condition involved having a certain number of tokens of your color face up? So, you each start with half the tokens with your color and the goal is to flip enough tokens to have 2/3 of them be your color.

I still feel like it would succumb to opportunism rather than strategy. That the goal is to flip as many of the colors which are not yours as you can and what you cannot and cannot flip is subject to chance more than strategy and that there is no way to 'lock in' certain numbers from being flipped later on when the opponent draws the right color.

Some of this may be mediated by randomly drawing the sides for each token/space... so there might be a lot of situations where if you want to flip the color of two tokens you have to flip a third one back to the other player. This will help incrementalize the advance of a particular color, and simultaneously allow a player to sit on a card until everything is lined up properly to flip all of them at once.

But, I think there needs to be some way to reduce the role of luck of the draw and require good hand management. Because the strategic element of the game ultimately comes down to what cards you have and what cards you use, there needs to be a way to guess what they are holding onto, force your opponent's hand and circumvent them through good hand management yourself.

Perhaps this comes from the uneven nature of summation. For example a 1 card can only be used to flip one 1 token. But a 9 card can be used to flip a 9 token, or and 8 and a 1, a 7 and a 2, a 7 and two 1s, etc... So, not all cards are equal. If you have room for only 5 cards in your hand, then you will need to manage when you use which card and you will be forced to make decisions.

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