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[GDS] December 2011 - "Reindeer Games" - Critiques

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sedjtroll
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Use this thread to post constructive critiques of the entries to the December 2011 Challenge in the Game Design Showdown, entitled "Reindeer Games".

-Seth

dobnarr
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My critiques

I didn't enter this month, but I did read the entries and vote. Here's my feedback, for what it's worth...

Top Elf (1 vote) - This seemed like it could be fun. I really needed to see the board to get a sense of how it would work, so it remained a little fuzzy in my mind. Having so many cards to choose from in your hand made it seem like you might spend a lot of time strategizing (especially for slow players and over-analyzers) and less time playing. The theme was more straight Christmas than ironic Christmas.

Merry Effing Christmas (3 votes) - This seemed like it could be really neat. Again, I'd have liked a bigger image of the board so I could see how the game might work out. I liked the restricted number of move cards, and the idea of having the brake as a play you needed to make to get the "good" cards back. Communal running of the red and green cars is also fun and could lead to interesting blocking moves. I've played many of these planned-move games before (e.g. Swashbuckler, Robo Rally) and they're nearly always a good time if the planning period doesn't take too long, which it wouldn't here. I liked the gambling aspect of it, where you have a chance to go for big-scoring rare presents or safe low-score presents, but I think it might be cool to let people change course and go for bigger presents in the middle of the game if they get behind.

Overnight Delivery (2 votes) - This could be really cool; although the board was described in the text, I felt like a picture would have made it much more clear. There were some key parts that weren't clear enough for me in the rules. In particular, there's no mention of when the game ends; with players losing presents, it wouldn't necessarily be good to have the game end when you run out, because then people might not choose to finish. Also, the wording of the movement only specifies that the front of the sleigh must be in the ending position - does that mean the sleigh can be placed in any orientation? That would be key for the collision part. It also seems like getting an entire large sleigh on a roof (as required by the rules) might be near-impossible if you only have four possible moves per turn, which would lead to lots of wasted frustrating back-and-forth trying to get the right position. I wondered also if people might deliver one present, get a lead, and then go into battle-sleigh mode - if hitting another sleigh costs both you and the other sleigh a present, then you could win just by knocking out all the presents. Finally, placement of the sleigh following a collision I think needs to be described more clearly.

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