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Critique the March 2009 GDS Challenge Entries

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Brykovian
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Use this thread to post constructive critiques about the individual entries in the March 2009 Game Design Showdown Challenge, entitled "Sharing the Wind" (link).

Thanks, -Bryk

Mitchell Allen
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Sharing the Wind, Shooting the Breeze

Here are my thoughts on the entries:

1. Kite Fight - Beautiful board, intrguing movement mechanic. Seems like it would be a bit confusing finding the hex boundaries, since the border colors are all the same. I like the contrasting victory conditions which give rise to the classic flight or fight syndrome.

2. Anemania - My entry. I carelessy neglected to clarify that, when building anemometers, the die roll determines the maximum number that can be built on that turn. The cost is $200 PER anemometer. I think it would be interesting to limit anemometer construction to once per property. This would create a best practice strategy of building 5 anemometers on a 9 windspeed property - and then building at least four houses to attain the near-maximum score of 65. Hotels would become less important, as they only add five more points to the score. Having to divert funds toward purchasing an entire color group would only be worthwhile for the lowly Baltic and Mediterranean group.

3. Fruit Flies - This looks like it would be fun. Since the pollination is based on wind direction, are there eight fields? The start-of-turn rule makes it sound like there are only two fields on each side ("alternate fields each turn.") What happens to destroyed crop cards? Are they reusable?
Why do players have to rotate crops? According to the setup, three of the four spaces contain one type of crop. Since you have to pollinate all eight fields if you wish to win that way (assuming it is eight), only one field can contain three of the same type - or two fields can contain two of the same type. I like the dormant crop rule. Do all dormant crops have to be active to win?

4. Deserted Windmill - I imagine how cool it would be to actually run a windmill. I never it took so many people! I'm not sure how the weather cards work. Does the active player reveal them one by one, performing the adjustments as he goes? Or, does the term "dominant" symbol have something to do with choosing from among the cards? Also, is it possible that the four miller's boys could be placed ineffectively, due to the final wind adjustments - thereby wasting a turn?
For example, if I choose to leave the head unmanned, the two boys can be used elsewhere. However, if the wind change is unfavorable, no work will get done, right? Why can't they move to their spots after they know which way the wind blows? Too easy, I guess :)

5. Leaves in the Wind - This has a delightful back-story and cute theme. I like the idea of dropping the leaves onto the board. I hope they are light enough that they won't make the children jump. :)

6. Wind of Change - I haven't seen this type of reverse-domination game before. It's very interesting. It sounds like plundering during a retreat. Is the loss of a resource die temporary, i.e., just for the subsequent turn? By deferring the penalty, the loss has no effect on the last round. Is that by design?

7. Valley of Winds - The digging team is a very cool idea! The possibility of getting buried turns a regular trick-taking game into a thrilling adventure!

8. Trailer Park: the Game! - This is a very thematic game, perhaps a bit cliched. One of the more interesting dilemmas is whether to use the movement dice to save one person or risk trying to save two.

9. Winds of Magic - This looks interesting, though I'm not familiar with the magic spells genre. I'm wondering about Luck: do you add one to each of the dice?

10. Ventus et Virtus - I like the idea of this game. It would be nice to know what some of the improvement and sabotage cards do. My favorite aspect of this game is the ability to hold power in reserve. Does the upgrade give you more capacity to power more houses? Is there a limit to the number of houses you can power before you MUST upgrade (Like Sim City)?

I based my voting on which game I wanted to play the most, breaking the tie by selecting the one that follows the challenge requirements most closely.

#4 and #10 are my kind of games. They both meet the challenge. Deserted Windmill is more fleshed out, so it got my vote.

Brykovian
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Nice work on your critiques,

Nice work on your critiques, Mitchell ... I'm surprised there haven't been more at this point.

I thought the entries were pretty interesting for such an odd paring of requirement! :-)

Hopefully, there will be some more critiques in order to help out the designers.

Thanks,
-Bryk

Mitchell Allen
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All Quiet in the Windy City

Thanks, Bryk.

I enjoyed this challenge the most. I had several ideas and several days narrowing them down.
I may actually make a game based on Anemania :)

Cheers,

Mitch

devilindesign
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I am new to this and will be

I am new to this and will be writing a up my thoughts asap. But since i am in the process of moving overseas and will be without internet for a while it may take a bit...

I do thank who ever has contributed the information has inspired me. i think i will play with my game design a little more to see what developes.

Mike

awakener76
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Re: Critique the March 2009 GDS Challenge Entries

Here's some of my thoughts:

1. Seriously, wow. This entry probably had the most details and looks like it could be fun, though I was a bit overwhelmed after my first read. I guess this is partly down to the 800 word limit and the speed entries have been put together, I'm thinking I'd probably "get it" a lot more with a fuller explanation and examples.

2. Made me laugh (WTFOMG), but I just couldn't get over the fact I hate Monopoly, sorry.

3. Quite liked this one, looks like a cool game.

4. Not sure about this one, the premise seems solid, but some of the rules are a little strange. I know why you want players to lose VP under certain circumstances, but the way it works doesn't make much sense, why would I lose a bag of flour if I have the windmill pointing in the wrong direction? Surely I would just not gain any more flour this turn?

5. Really likes this game, nearly voted for it, nice clear, simple rules leading to multiple strategies and the hidden mission cards are a cool idea.

6. Quite liked this one, a clever idea, the reverse area control game. I'm tempted to knock up a prototype to see how this plays as it's the sort of game that appeals to me.

7. This was my entry, so obviously I'm not going to critique it too severely lol. I'm very tempted to produce a prototype and develop this idea further. Like most of my first draft rules, I think my description could be clearer. Strangely this game idea came to me fully formed, I just wrote it down in one go and didn't do any tweaking.

8. Another game I really liked. The roll on move is great (I've been trying to think of a decent roll and move mechanic for a while) and the simultaneous nature of the tornado movement is great. Can see this being a great game to play with the tornado really creating tension and the mechanics creating some interesting choices (do I play a load of wind cards now so I can save some trailers, whilst risking the loss of others later in the round when I have no control?)

9. Sounds interesting, but probably not my cup of tea, seems a little too random and I'm not a huge dungeon crawl/random encounter fan.

10. This is the entry I voted for.I liked the simplicity and the competitive nature of the play.

Sorry it's all so brief, been a bit rushed with work this week, but wanted to contribute something, even if it's not that useful.

J Monty
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My Critiques

Time sure flies when you're having fun. I can't believe it's already been a week since the challenge ended. Here are a couple of quick critiques of my own:

1. This was the entry that I voted for. I really liked the wind/movement mechanic - I think it's clever and original (at least I've never seen anything like it before). The designer's graphic art skills are to be envied. I would definitely play this game as-is.

2. I'm a big fan of building new games out of older ones, and this seems like a great way to add some much-needed strategy and tough decisions to an old game. One of my favorite things about this entry was that it could easily be implemented by someone with a Monopoly game and a few spare parts. I will likely be adding these rules to my next game of Monopoly in the future.

3. For me, this seems like a cute, simple game with a premise that would likely appeal to younger kids. I could easily see myself playing this game with my daughter. I have a question, though: wouldn't it be easier to just use the 12-sider for attacking? On a 1-8 nothing happens; on a 9-12 you get a successful attack? This way, you could drop one component...

All in all, it's very clever in it's simplicity - very streamlined (which I like).

4. I was torn on this entry. On the one hand, the rules were clearly written and I could easily imagine how the game might look while being played. I thought the theme was realized very well, as was the shared component stipulation (probably one of the best in that category of all the entries; certainly far better than my own entry). But, the game just didn't excite me...it seemed to be lacking something. I still can't put my finger on it...

5. The method for determining the first player is priceless. I also really like the Secret Mission cards - they add a nice bluffing element to the game. I could imagine this being made into a teaching/educational game for learning about the different types of trees and their leaves. My only concern would be dropping the leaves onto the board, possible upsetting the leaves already in play (though that could be a feature, not a bug). Also, would there be rules for mis-drops (i.e. the leaves scattering off of the board and what-not)?

6. This was my entry.

7. This game almost got my vote...it took me a few days to really decide between this entry and #1. In the end, I went with #1's movement mechanic.

This entry has a very cool premise and use of the theme provided. I'm a sucker for anything having to do with archaeology and ancient Egypt. I also really liked how players interact in this, via tomb-burying and Digging Team bids. A fun, interesting game.

8. I really like the wind mechanic in this one and how it's integrated into the tornado mechanic. Combined with the backgammon-ish movement mechanic, each player will have a lot of tough decisions to make every turn. Now add all that to the idea that you're all trying to evacuate your people from local trailer parks and you've got something verging on greatness here.

9. I'm not really a fan of dungeon crawl-style games as a rule. However, I thought that the spell-casting mechanic was pretty cool, though I think it could do with some kind of re-roll mechanic (perhaps tied into magic items or "burning" spell tokens). This would cut down on the randomness somewhat; especially when fighting the tougher monsters.

10. This seems like a very cool game, though I'll confess that I found it difficult to picture how it all flows together in my head (the dreaded 800-word limit was probably at work here, I think). Also, the 4-8 player requirement kept me from voting for it...anything more than 4-5 players around my area is practically impossible.

This was a fun, though difficult, challenge. The shared component stipulation was very hard for me (and from the look of it, some of the other designers, as well) to wrap my head around. Of course, immediately after the submissions phase ended I thought of a great way to implement it into my design. C'est la vie.

Jpwoo
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Crits!

I haven't been around in a while here, but the GDS is one of my favorite parts of the BGDF. So here I am with my off the cuff opinions of the games. I apologize ahead of time for anything I misread or got wrong.

1 High-Flyin’ Tail Waggin’ Dragon Kite Fight!
Neat game with a cool board. I like the movement mechanic, and how the board grows more and more narrow as you approach the goal. There may be a bit too much going on scoring wise. I think eliminating the vp's and just having the collection of tokens or reaching the top be the ways to victory. And then make kite combat more of a positional thing. Winning a fight might bounce the opponent down. Or take one of his tokens. I really like how the people flying the kites move along the bottom of the board and can effect their movements that way. Excellent effort.

2. Anemania
I like that this game is essentially a monopoly mod. And adds some twists to the game. I think that it could have used stripping out a lot of the monopoly rules to give it a better sense of being its own game. What rules to strip out I don't know. The variable wind speeds on sites are interesting, it would be nice to know them ahead of time so you could make a better informed choice on what or what not to buy. Ultimately the shared MASHUP token would just seem to slow the game down, limiting when you could buy things, even if sometimes you get things for free.

3 Fruit Flies
cool positional battle type game. I have a hard time getting my brain around it without seeing the board though. Seems a little dice happy for my tastes. And I'm not sure that it has the shared aspect in it. I do like these kinds of game where you slowly spread your stuff out while trying to cut the opponent off and eliminate them. It brings to mind 4 kinds of fruit trying to evolve on an isolated island somewhere.

4 Deserted Windmill
Who doesn't want to make orphan slaves grind grain for them? I like the theme of this game and the actual mechanics of running the mill are pretty neat worker placement and resource production on a shared board is a cool idea. This is essentially solitaire rounds played in succession, so the player interaction may be a bit low. And I do worry that there isn't enough information for the player to make informed choices about how to set up the mill. They know what their wind card does, but three opponents could monkey wrench that in a heartbeat. Granted some cards will counteract one another which makes the playing of card and the player interaction more random.

5 Leaves in the Wind
Cute theme, who doesn't like running around on a fall day and gathering leaves. I loved looking up a word in our big dictionary and finding some giant leaf I put in there to press in years past. The secret goals are neat and add a nice twist to the game, I would go a step further and make the identity of the children secret as well! I could see with the high valued wind cards a potential for a lot of leaves to blow up against the wall, I might change this to have leaves exiting the board be redropped. I love the dropping of leaves too, thematic and adds a nice random element.

6. Wind of Change
At first blush this game doesn't seem to have a lot of choices in it. But the open trading could make this game pretty interesting. I like the dynamic that having a majority gives you extra dice, but having a minority scores you points. I'm not sure what the shared component in this game is, and the wind theme is pretty tenuous, or at least metaphorical. There is a little push your luck involved in the unrest, But in general a player with a majority would seem to want to cultivate unrest and hope to lose some tokens for free. So this is really a risk for the minority holders who probably need the rerolls more this could lead to some interesting tension.

7. Valley of Winds
One thing I love about GDS is seeing all the different kinds of games that come out. This is a nice set collection game. With some screw your opponent thrown in to boot. I think as it stands it is little boring, draw a card, decide if you wanna play a set or not, hope you don't get buried. Bidding your vps to get back in the game is cool though, or you can just wait it out and let others score. Some kind of card interaction would be cool, so that there would be some card gaming in there as well. I see on the sidebar that this game is getting some work on it. Hope it works out well.

8 Trailer Park: The Game!
Now this is game has it all. People running out into storms, killer tornadoes, and doublewides. This game could either be totally random or crazy tactical I can't tell. You might want to huddle your people with others to give them some protection or you may want to spread them out. The tornado could get chaotic and completely unpredictable which might take some of the skill and bluffing out. But you could decide to play early or save your cards which is pretty neat.

9 Winds of Magic
This game doesn't have much to do with wind, but it does have one pretty awesome mechanic that nails the second requirement of the challenge, Having all the players perform their actions based on the same set of dice limiting them is really cool. Different players with different spells will have to use the same mana in different ways. Sometimes they will have a lot to work with but not others. It would be neat if there were tons of spells to pick from so you could tailor your character, you could be the guy with lots of low cost spells, or take a variety , or play risky with the high cost ones. The rest of the game seems pretty straight forward.

10 Ventus et Virtus (Wind and Power)
I think this game has some cool potential, I'm not sure it has the shared component aspect of the challenge. I like that you have to build your network of powered houses, but each one drags down your ability to purchase things in the future. This could be a cool feeling where you build up your windmill network first before you start buying houses, but then once the race on the houseing market starts you have to start buying in. Kind of like domaine. I'm not sure about the random nature of the wind though, it seems to work against the kind of planning that a game like this would need. I'm sure something could be worked out.

Phew! I forgot how long this takes. A nice crop of games, I look forward to the next challenge.

Jpwoo
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Voting

OH! By the way, what happened to the old way of voting where we sent in 10 points worth of votes to the person running the challenge. I really miss the ability to reward games other than the game I thought was best.

I know one problem was that I could give one game 10 points and throw the voting out of whack when most people were splitting up points.

What about the ability to vote for 1st 2nd and 3rd?

Mitchell Allen
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Voting Booth

Jpwoo wrote:
OH! By the way, what happened to the old way of voting where we sent in 10 points worth of votes to the person running the challenge. I really miss the ability to reward games other than the game I thought was best.

I know one problem was that I could give one game 10 points and throw the voting out of whack when most people were splitting up points.

What about the ability to vote for 1st 2nd and 3rd?

LOL! Folks around here tend to tinker with the voting system in GDS as much as they do with their own games!
I will throw in another option: Olympic scoring! 7.7 for presentation, 8.0 for the use of the theme, etc.
I'm kidding.

Thanks for your detailed feedback on all the entries.

Cheers,

Mitch

seo
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Jpwoo wrote:OH! By the way,

Jpwoo wrote:
OH! By the way, what happened to the old way of voting where we sent in 10 points worth of votes to the person running the challenge. I really miss the ability to reward games other than the game I thought was best.

I miss that too. I guess we fell victims to what's easier: the poll is automatic, the old voting method required manually collecting the votes and adding them. If most people wants to return to the old system, we might think about it. Opinions?

Jpwoo wrote:
I know one problem was that I could give one game 10 points and throw the voting out of whack when most people were splitting up points.

Well, actually, you were limited to 5 points to any one game, tops, but the problem existed. With all its flaws, I think the 10-points system was better, especially for the less popular games, that now might not get any votes at all, as the voting is focused on which one you find it's better.

Jpwoo wrote:
What about the ability to vote for 1st 2nd and 3rd?

That would be good. Sadly, the poll that comes with the site software only allows voting for one of the options, not for ranking the best three.

As I already said, if a lot of people agree with us, we might think about a return to the old system, or a 1-2-3 vote, or whatever. GDS Scoring has been a discussion topic forever, and will probably still be, no matter what we do.

Now that we're at it, a reminder to everyone regarding voting: one's not supposed to vote for one's own entry, even if all the other entries suck. ;) And all entrants are supposed to vote.

Jpwoo
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well you know my opinion. I

well you know my opinion. I like the old system, or at least a system that allows for spreading the votes around.

I dislike the all or nothing poll, and the fact that you can see how the vote is going which may influence ones votes.

But I'm not the one counting the votes, so I don't know how cumbersome split voting is on the people who run the GDS.

ilta
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Voting

If you wanted to do place voting, you could just have three concurrent, clearly-labeled polls, each with all the entries. One poll is your first-place choice, the next is your second-place choice, and the final is your third-place choice. Then the results are tallied (4 for 1st, 2 for 2nd, 1 for 3rd, or whatever; I picked those numbers because they're binary).

Based on the results from the last couple of entries I had suggested a run-off among the top vote-getters, although deciding where the cut-off would be is going to be tricky. My instinct is top two scores, but at least three, but there are lots of ways to do a run-off. I think you'd also want to allow comments after the first round, so that people could really think about the final choice and to generate a good discussion, which is why I do the GDS (although winning is nice, too).

Distributing points sounds really complicated. It's hard enough to compare the different games and pick which is "best" -- now I'd need to know by exactly how much a game was best! But I'm sure I could handle it, and obviously it worked well in the past. Unless you were the moderator, that is. Because then it would suck.

Maybe we should have a GDS GDS! :)

ilta
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Leaves in the Wind

jpw, thanks so much for your thoughts on the games.

Mine was Leaves in the Wind, and I want to say that I love the idea of secret identities. Kind of like Quicksand, which is a tight, underrated game where players move explorers along a map, but nobody knows which explorer belongs to which other player (or to nobody!). If/when I take the game forward into a development stage, I'd definitely tinker with this idea. Although how would it affect the children-moving-towards-leaves stage? Maybe they move simultaneously and any two kids who would move into the same square simply don't move?

As for the leaves getting blown into the wall, that's a feature, not a bug! :) It's the only way for leaves to make big piles, since they start on separate spaces and are affected equally by all winds. Players would then fight over these piles, and saavy players will choose when NOT to fight over them and take advantage of knowing what the other players are likely to do to snap up a bunch of single leaves.

I had also originally considered a "master labyrinth" style approach to the winds, where players cue up winds along an individual column or row. The wind affects only leaves in a direct line rather than the entire board, and you'd see which leaves would be affected ahead of time, but not by how much. This might also mean more leaves on the board at a time, since you don't have to move every single one. You could also have different patterns for the wind on a single card, like this:

>>
>>>
>>

...which would push leaves in rows A and C 2 spaces, while pushing the leaves in row B 3 spaces. You could also have a card like this:

>>>>
x
>>>>

...which would only affect rows A and C, even though you placed it centered on row B.

But you still won't end up with piles unless there are obstacles on the board, either in the playing area or along the walls. And you could run into the issue of too much randomness. I think more speculation would have to be verified with some actual playtesting but I'm interested to hear peoples' thoughts anyway.

Jpwoo
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I really like the idea of

I really like the idea of wind cards that you lay beside the board. it would give you some more control without making anything a sure thing because the cards laid down in front of you could blow your stuff around. Go for the prototype this could be a really fun game

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