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[GDS] DECEMBER 2013 "The Gifting Season" Critiques

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bike
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Selfish snowman critique

My silver medal. The idea of walking around and getting rid of cards is nice and clear. How movement is implemented is an open, and important, question. Moving quicker means getting rid of more cards. I realize now that giving cards to another snowman does not mean he can 're-deliver' them. That is no good with regard to the GDS requirement.

Given the theme I suggest developing it futher with a child game in mind. A dice suggests itself here.

anonymousmagic
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Feedback #4 Selfish Snowmen

I loved this game, which is why it received my gold medal. It met all the rules of the contest and it had an interesting theme and clear writing. I was left with a couple of questions. How do you count the final score?

I think the game would benefit if players could return to their home and pick up gifts to regift as long as santa is still running around, to ensure they end up with the best score. Otherwise scoring would be too random as there would be little influence on the final outcome by the single gift you can leave. A little bit more of a strategic opportunity would make it perfect.

This game just beat my silver medallist as I had scored the games the same. A more detailed read put this one on top.

sonofman
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Selfish Snowman feedback

This game certainly uses the GDS requirements. Gifting couldn't be more literal than it is here! In fact, the only way to win is by getting presents from other players! I am reading that right, yes? You get points when other snowmen play gifts on your snowman's house.

I'd say this is a straight-forward children's game, and works well to that end. While it's not stated how players will determine how far they move each turn, it's affected by the gifts they are holding and the event which affects everyone equally. I don't think the events change the decisions players will make, but if you're playing with children it will add a nice flair to each turn.

"To win" players place the high-value presents at other player's houses, which is the pony. Most of the gifts listed, which I suppose isn't exhaustive, are 2 points? So it will probably come down to who has more cards played on their house, yes?

Another question(s): If you can only play one gift at each building, wouldn't all players have the same number of cards played on their houses? And what happens when you can't place any more because you've done them all? Or did you mean you can place one gift per building on a turn? Do you gather gifts at your house when you pass by so you can redistribute them? But then if you can only do one gift per building, wouldn't I be stuck with them if I've already played on the others?

richdurham
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Selfish Snowman

Hello all -

I like seeing all the feedback, but other than Kroz I haven't seen any designers pipe in with their own commentary on their game! This is your best chance for discussion, remember! That's why the schedule is posted - so you know WHEN to be checking the boards!


On Selfish Snowman - nice use of the GDS restrictions. It hit them solidly, and as Son of Man said, this will probably play well as a game for the younger crowd. To that end, when you show the "points" each gift is worth you could use little present icons instead of a straight number so the children can count the presents and add them up.

Doesn't hurt that the theme is all about GIVING away the most presents, either :)

On the negative side, there ARE a few unanswered questions (like movement) although with the implied simplicity of the GDS that hopefully didn't scare off any votes.


Tomorrow is Station Theta, the only entry to receive NO votes. Other than the obvious lack of an Avatar mechanic, what else can you say? Any other reasons it didn't get the vote? What did you like? Sonofman, make sure you are there tomorrow for your commentary!

Have a good night, everyone!

bike
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Station Theta - critique

This game is better than "zero votes". Having no giving mechanic in the game does not help towards GDS-votes. The genereral idea to put tokens on specific places to either be safe against assimilation, or trying to assimilate more players is clever.
There is an element of discussion (let Eric resolve that station, he is the mechanic after all) when you just put an assimilation token there. I can see this grow into a good deduction/bluffing game. Different tokens, different player roles, different stations... I like to see more of this.

Corsaire
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Station Theta

Sorry, completely missed on both requirements. I read first for compliance then for gameplay. I'd stop there in pinciple, but since you are contributing to the critiques... It sounds like an interesting and fresh mechanic for me. I can see a need for extensive testing to make sure the mechanic works as a game. It is easy to see it flopping in a few areas such as it is too easy to be turned and that no one can take the risk of trading.

fnordy
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Station Theta

I had a hard time following how things worked. I wasn't going to say anything because I think that could just be me.

sonofman
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Station Theta

Thanks for the feedback so far. I guess I can see, Corsaire, why you might have missed the giving mechanic. It is both in the Planning phase:

Players draw a hand of three tokens from their bag. (Get tokens in your bag with free "explore" action at some locations). They may trade these with any other player, but do so without revealing what they are ahead of time. In fact, it is suggested that trading players do so away from the group.

I should have used the word "give" instead of "trade?" The idea is that players give tokens other players, who have no idea what those token really are. A gift! In essence it's blind gift-giving, like a Christmas gift exchange where you might end up giving a new TV but getting a pair of socks.

The second place I tried to use gifting was when you play the tokens to the board. This was inspired by those charity boxes at stores where you can donate your toys to families that can't afford them. You wrap the toy and then place it in the bin and charity workers take it away. Although for good reason I see most of them where you don't wrap it first, probably so you don't put naughty things in there.

That's what got em thinking about the playing tokens part:

Players will collectively combine tokens into stacks at station locations, eventually electing someone to resolve the location (at risk of uncovering a contributed Alien token).

Since you all give/gift a token to the pile, and no one knows what it is, you might be giving a naughty "Alien" token to charity. The player elected to resolve the location is the one who gets the toys to play the actions at that space, but he might get the "Alien" token too.

I openly admit that I accidentally cut out the avatar part when editing this down to 500 words. I first had it where everyone had a pawn on the station that said which room you were in and you would place your pawn in the room you were "active" in. No spaces to move along in hallways or anything, just noting where you were in case you ended up in the same room as another player. Some of the actions would affect players in that room, and you could only gift tokens to players in the same room as you. Again, I cut that part for space. It must have been too late at night to think clearly!

Again thank you for the comments so far.

Fnordy, what did you find hard to follow? I realize now I could have done without some of the details like the number of tokens you can play based on the number of players, and maybe shortened the example of the "Hanger." Then I could have used that space for more explanation, but which parts?

I kind of like this design enough to want to pursue it further. Can I do this on BGDF? Would there be any interest in helping if I made a thread?

Corsaire
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I did find it interesting and

I did find it interesting and would be curious to see it in more detail. I just don't see trading as gifting, though there is the classic concept of a gift "exchange," the word "may" also deteriorates it from the requirements as I don't see how trading is a smart move for a player in the paranoic setup.

anonymousmagic
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Feedback #5 Station Theta

sonofman wrote:
Thanks for the feedback so far. I guess I can see, Corsaire, why you might have missed the giving mechanic. It is both in the Planning phase:
>*Players draw a hand of three tokens from their bag. (Get tokens in your bag with free "explore" action at some locations). They may trade these with any other player, but do so without revealing what they are ahead of time. In fact, it is suggested that trading players do so away from the group.*

I should have used the word "give" instead of "trade?" The idea is that players give tokens other players, who have no idea what those token really are. A gift! In essence it's blind gift-giving, like a Christmas gift exchange where you might end up giving a new TV but getting a pair of socks.

A trade is a trade, you give something and expect something back. Gifting is giving something without expecting any favors in return. I don't know what you meant, but whatever you mean, is what you should say.

Although this game scored low on my own scoring system, it wasn't in fact the lowest. It lost points on - in my opinion - not meeting contest guidelines and a write-up that left me with a lot of questions. The reason it didn't land in the bottom spot is the fact that I like games with hidden information and deduction mechanics. (I'd be happy to add my view to a separate discussion thread if you started one.)

You probably could've gotten a few votes if you were more concise in writing down the rules. The objectives section is a great example. Your goal is to resolve locations in such a way that the humans retain the upper hand against the aliens before they launch an escape or get picked up. Everything else you've written here could be relevant to the game, but those things are not objectives.

A great deal of good rule writing is knowing where to put something and not be stuck in the details. People need to know how to move, before they need to know what to do when they arrive at a location.

Don't feel bad about not receiving any votes. It doesn't mean the game is bad, it just means it didn't appeal to the people who voted within the parameters of the contest.

Fun: 8
Theme: 7
Mechanics: 7
Contest requirements: 4
Cohesiveness: 5
Bonus: 7
TOTAL: 38

richdurham
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Station Theta

Sonofman, I see your game as a good start on a deduction/paranoia game and agree that I'd like to see it in another thread. I also agree that "trading" is a bit tangential to "gifting" as Corsaire and Anonymous magic noted.

The "gifting" should be more one sided. Perhaps if the token stack assembled at the location was collected by a single player (who moved there with his avatar) and he could do with them as he pleased. Then it would be more akin to the collective gift you mentioned

The comment about not wanting to trade in a paranoia game is spot on. Is this an artifact from when you had pawns in the rules? I can see wanting to trade if the group needs to use his tokens but he can't play all of them that turn. Otherwise it's too much of a risk.

sonofman
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thank you

Richdurham, I wish I could say that the trading was an artifact of having the avatars bur really it's not. And I now agree, Corsaire, the gifting/trading wouldn't really work on its own in a paranoid environment. There needs to be more reason to do it.

Since it's getting pretty late I don't think there will be much more comments about this game, but I thank those who did. I found it very helpful, and it's the feedback that I joined the GDS for in the first place!

baberahamlincoln
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Entry # 5 Feedback - Station Theta

For whatever reason, I had a really difficult time connecting the mechanics and game play and making sense of how the game would work. I did like the theme and general idea behind it (aliens, escape, paranoia).

fnordy
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baberahamlincoln wrote:For

baberahamlincoln wrote:
For whatever reason, I had a really difficult time connecting the mechanics and game play and making sense of how the game would work.

I can't really state my issues much better than the above. I can't imagine the game or its processes in my head. As I said, it may be me.

Then again, I'm surprised how many people in this thread have observed that a rule in one of the entries was incomplete. I know we're supposed to come as close as we can, but there are a lot more "This needs more explaining" comments than 500 words really allows.

richdurham
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Today:District

Good morning, East coasters. Today of the 23rd of December is discussion on the entry "DISTRICT." I hope cheekyjie also makes an appearance to respond to comments and critiques. It makes for better learning for all!

baberahamlincoln
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Feedback Entry #6 - District

I liked the time tracking mechanism for this game. I thought it was novel and fit with the theme well. The options available to the player, and the durations for each option seemed interesting, and some thought definitely went into that. This would require something to track when an action was stared, and when it would end. I had a difficult time meshing the mechanics and game play, and wasn’t clear on how the selection and rolling of dice would work into a strategy of any kind. I’d be interested to read anything else the author has regarding this entry, that might help me understand the gameplay better.

The use of an avatar does not seem as deeply integrated as it could have - it seems like it is mostly just used to track what action a player is taking. Likewise, I’m not sure about the gifting mechanic - it seems more like a player nominates which of their dice becomes available to another player, and other players get to choose which other player’s dice they select for rolling - as opposed to an actual giving of the dice to someone else.

sonofman
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District feedback

I gave District a silver medal. I loved the timing mechanism as a cross between a worker-placement and the timing mechanism from games like Red November. I loved enough to vote for it even though i thought that using the avatar in this way was really just a "marker" and not an avatar, and the gifting felt a little weird.

Here's my question about it:
So say each player has 5 provision dice. When I choose how many to donate it doesn't say I should then roll them but does say I should add them to my GCP total. If I don't roll them, how many do I add to my GCP total? 1 per die? 1 for a d6 and 2 for a d8?

Then if I "win" I choose another player's dice (taking them, not being gifted them) and add the provisions-rolled to my inventory. Does this mean I'm taking the dice themselves, or just marking down that I have more provisions somewhere?

Assuming I take the other player's dice I think this would result in a slice-of-pie economics problem, where everyone would try to donate about the same as everyone else so they aren't losing a lot of dice to other players, and since there might be relatively low numbers used here there is a high chance of having the same amount of GCP and therefore just determining who chooses dice by turn order.

Yeah, i really don't see that as gifting so much as leaving stuff out on the lawn for people to take.

I'd love to see this tested to see what happens in the player's minds when they make a choice of what to donate!

bike
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District - critique

A workerplacement with timeslots where goal is to accumulate dice, or GCP (=victorypoint). Cool idea, the difficulty with the game will be balancing the dice values with the hours spend on various options. For the GDS, no avatar, and hardly any giving. The donation of dice just means they are available for other players to choose. (Are dice not chosen taken back by the player?)
I think the game would be just as good without the donating part (sharing phase 3). It seems to not fit the rest of the game. It might have been added to meet GDS giving requirement.

Corsaire
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Thought this fairly well

Thought this fairly well missed the challenge, and I had trouble visualizing the game. Seems like there is some bigger concept I missed with the role of the provisions in the game. Maybe it resembles some game I haven't played and thus don't have the right frame of reference.

cheekyjie
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Feedback Entry #6 - District

Hi guys, sorry for the late appearance. I'll try to be more proactive in giving comments and critiques.

Thanks for all the constructive feedback on District! I have to agree with most of the feedback given. The idea of an avatar isn't as strong as i thought it would be and it was merely just a pawn for making actions. Another weakness i have to agree on was that the gifting mechanism which isn't very accurate/strong. I'll try to reiterate my idea again and hopefully things are slightly clearer. The original idea of gifting was essentially quite close t the idea of a trade. First the players have to choose which of they're dice to donate. My idea was to have 3 types of D6 dice with each type having different number of blank side. Essentially, if a dice has more blank sides, it will be worth less GCP (ie. donating a dice w 4 blank sides give 1GCP to the player donating and a dice w 3 blank sides will be worth 2GCP etc). My idea of this is to encourage people to donate dice that has less blank sides for more GCP, while keeping into consideration that donating such a dice will pose a higher chance of an opponent getting a provision. After which, people will take another player's donated dice and roll it to see if he gets the provision. The idea was to include an element of luck into the game. But i have to agree w sonofman, this feels more like leaving stuff out in the lawn rather than gifting. My idea of gifting is really just the part on donation and maybe i made it too similar to trading in the idea of trying to make the mechanism of gifting more interesting. As for the idea of determining who to go first by turn order, i feel that with 3 variations of dice, the chance of a same GCP wouldn't be as high. And in the situation where the competition is tight, this would make being the first player a higher priority in the action phase. Overall I felt that the game would have fit the GDS requirements if the gifting mechanism have been more apparent.

I hope I've answered some of the questions, and I'm really thankful for the positive and constructive comments I get! Pardon my late reply, its already the 24th morning here!

richdurham
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12/24: Christmas Crunch

Today, Christmas Eve, the critiques will be on our monthly winner: Christmas Crunch. Same rules apply, of course. Obviously a lot of people voted this their Gold, but there's always more work to be done on a design!

bike
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Christmas Crunch - critique

My gold medal. After reading all entries I figured this one, was the one to beat. I suppose most of us started with this theme, I know I did. I could not make it work. Things work very well together here, the timing of the parties, the preferred gifts, and the various ways of scoring points.
I would like to see some player interaction in this game, it currently feels as individual puzzles for the players. The direct giving presents to other players is limited, you will not be that often in the same square.
Game might be subject to paralysis analysis since it is very well possible to calculate if you can attend that party on the other side of town, while bringing an extra good present, and shortly visit grandma and have a bite.

Happy Christmas everybody!

Corsaire
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Merry Christmas everyone and

Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for the votes of confidence for my game idea.

The board I sketched out has you about three or four moves to get from one place to anywhere else. At first blush and for the younger players this can play as a light time management game, but I see it blossoming into an insidious tactical game of chasing other players, showing up to parties where they need to be, and catching them shorthanded to give them a gift when they don't have one in return.

I'm hoping the simple board design and dynamics of multiple players reduces some of the turn to turn over-analyzing.

Barring any uncovered fatal flaws y'all might point out, I'm bumping this to the top of my development queue.

baberahamlincoln
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Feedback Entry # 7 -Christmas Crunch

This got my gold. The mechanics were simple but had some novelty and fit the theme well (time on the clock, wrapping, shopping) and there was good use of both of the GDS criteria. I’d like to see how the scoring and tracking of scores plays out.

sonofman
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Christmas Crunch feedback

The description made it easy to understand the general concept of the game, which is a plus. I read this game as simple action-management game, like Stone Age or Agricola. As in, you must spend some of your time managing your pawn's human needs against harvesting resources and scoring points. In this case, the resources are presents and the points are at the parties or with other players.

That giving part is the thing I like the best. It lets you have another option to get points, although all desires are hidden which is kind of strange. Usually I know or find out what someone wants for Christmas, don't you?

The sleeves are a bit of a gimmick, but they'd work here if you can put multiple cards in a single gift and had custom made sleeves that looked like wrapping paper.

Since you are putting this on the top of your design queue, you'll have to let us know if having both Tired AND Hungry tokens results in too much management for such a game.

cheekyjie
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Christmas Crunch

Similar to everyone, i felt that this was a game that fits the GDS requirement nicely! I like the like/dislike mechanism since it adds a deduction mechanism to the game. Initially, this game felt more like a children's game. After reading all the possible game actions, i felt that there's too many possible actions a player can do for a children's game. In my opinion, i feel that it lies nicely in the casual game catergory if the special effects of cards or the tired and hungry tokens do not make things too complicated to learn.

There's one area that im curious about. Since a player is allowed 4 actions an hour, will players take action by action or 4 actions a turn before moving on to the next player? I feel that in the situation that players take one action and it moves on to the next player's turn, the idea of trying to catch and gift to a player that is shorthanded in the same room will become rather challenging.

Overall, I like some of the game mechanics such as the simple deduction, the required parties that different characters have to attend and how players should be penalised if those requirements are not met at the end of the game! Cheers!

richdurham
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Christmas!

Christmas day is an off day for reviews. Enjoy the time with your families, and when that gets old, write your critiques for the 26th's game: Christmas Rush

bike
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Another theme?

Corsaire wrote:

Barring any uncovered fatal flaws y'all might point out, I'm bumping this to the top of my development queue.

As weird as it is to say today, you do need another theme for this game. Preferably one to easily switch back and forth. You have a "normal" game for the first 11 months of the year, and the Christmas theme for the 12th.

baberahamlincoln
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Entry #8 - Christmas Rush

This was my choice for bronze. I liked the simplicity of this game, and the use of the gifting mechanic and avatar were well done. I thought using the travel cards / directions to meet the gifting mechanic was clever on the part of the designer, as it did not relate to gifting gifts themselves, despite the obvious opportunity in the theme. The giving of directions also created the potential to set an opponent back, depending on how the directions and pathways were defined, and providing some level of interaction between players. Overall, clear, concise and complete, and implemented the GDS elements well.

bike
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Christmas Rush - critique

My bronze medal. Solid game, easy to pick up rules. I like the use of jokers (always can return to parking lot, find anything you want at the mall). Even though it won't happen that much, I really like to play a travel card to some other shopper, hopefully totally sending him where he does not want to be ;-)

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