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[GDS] DECEMBER 2014 "MSP-Games' Micro-game Challenge" Critiques thread

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richdurham
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This thread will primarily be used to provide feedback for the entries after all the results are in. In this month's case, I will post the results of each round.

richdurham
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ROUND 1 RESULTS

Results are in for the first round.

The congratulations to the top four entries for moving on to the next round!

Title Designer Points
#8 Cloak and Dagger jamespotter 28
#4 Zoo Contest Zag24 21
#13 Micro Robot Rodeo Ruy343 15
#11 The Treacherous pond bike 14
#7 WAR WIZARDS nomad 11
#10 Beasts XerxesPraelor 10
#1 Goblin Derby Garage Gamer 7
#3 Node Conquest thoughtfulmonkey 7
#5 Angels and Demons dobnarr 6
#9 Mediterranean Convoy lewpuls 6
#2 Dragon Fight DrFro 5
#6 Tower Builders AnthiasGames 5
#12 Witty Engine xiantek 3

anthiasgames
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There is one missing from the

There is one missing from the round two voting form. Just FYI.

richdurham
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Fixed; thanks for heads up.

Fixed; thanks for heads up.

mindspike
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Round 2 Results

The second round of results are in.

Game Score Gold Medals Silver Medals Bronze Medals
#14 Fences 17 5 0 2
#20 Combat 15 2 4 1
#25 Arm Up! 15 3 1 4
#21 Joust 14 2 3 2
#24 Common Cold War 12 1 3 3
#18 Triad 11 2 2 1
#16 Hamlet 8 1 2 1
#17 Micro Battle Arena 5 0 2 1
#23 Hazardous Waste 5 1 0 2
#22 Mini Game of Life 3 1 0 0
#15 Gold in the Junkyard 2 0 1 0
#19 Haunted House Pocket Game 0 0 0 0
#26 Greedy Fiefs 0 0 0 0
mindspike
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Final Round Results

We have a winner!

Cloak and Dagger

by jamespotter

Quite a lot of participation this month, both in game design and in voting. Discussion this month will be a bit less structured due to the small number of days remaining in the month and the large number of entries. Starting on Dec. 24th each day will have four games assigned to it for discussion, schedule to be posted shortly. Please start individual threads if you find a game particularly interesting. Huge thanks to everyone for a great turnout!

Game Score Designer
Cloak and Dagger 94 jamespotter
Arm Up! 85 kevnburg
Zoo Contest 85 zag24
Fences 83 DifferentName
Combat 74 JTAshby
Joust 72 EthosGames
Micro Robot Rodeo 70 Ruy343
The Treacherous Pond 67 bike
mindspike
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Discussion Schedule

Discussion Schedule

Date Designer Game
December 24 Garage Gamer
DrFro
thoughtful monkey
Zag24
Goblin Derby
Dragon Fight
Node Conquest
Zoo Contest
December 25 dobnarr
AnthiasGames
nomad
jamespotter
Angels and Demons
Tower Builders
War Wizards
Cloak and Dagger
December 26 lewpuls
XerxesPraelor
bike
Mediterranean Convoy
Beasts
The Treacherous Pond
December 27 xiantek
Ruy343
DifferentName
Witty Engine
Micro Robot Rodeo
Fences
December 28 KViki
omalleyp2883
CEN7272
Werhner
Gold on the junkyard
Hamlet
Micro Battle Arena
Triad
December 29 gameodyssey
JTAshby
EthosGames
Telci
Haunted House pocket game
Combat
Joust
Mini Life
December 30 andymorris
Level27Geek
Kevnburg
champie
Hazardous Waste
Common Cold War
Arm Up!
Greedy Fiefs
thoughtfulmonkey
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Critiques 24th Dec

Goblin Derby
A fun theme with an interesting movement mechanic; but it seemed as though player 1 could always win - push to the number 3 square on first turn to collect power-up, push once more on the next turn and always be ahead. Maybe pick-ups could have the option of being bad, or maybe ‘toss’ some cards when pushing it to determine stress. On a minor point it mentioned a ‘rulebook’ - the possibility of which was not mentioned in the brief.

Dragon Fight
The wounding mechanic seems to fit really well - with dragons slowly becoming more incapacitated. Some notation on the attack tokens to indicate the direction of the attack would help to make it easier to play. Could imagine additional players by using another set - free for all, or in teams trying not to injure each other.

Zoo Contest
I imagine it looking quite visually engaging. The interactions seem like they could be fun and strategic; but I have a feeling that a game could go on for considerably longer than 5 minutes. This got my gold award.

DifferentName
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Derby fight conquest contest

Goblin Derby

The theme of this game has a fun feel to it, and the rules were entertaining. The powerups sound fun, but the rest of the gameplay feels too slow. You build up stress so fast that most of the time you would just be moving a single space. Also, the components were cut smaller than allowed by the rules.

@Thoughtful Monkey - If you move 3 spaces twice in a row, you get 4 stress and blow up. Also, other players could hit you with a magnet to move you back or a bomb to bring you backwards. I'm thinking staying back or in the middle of the pack might go a bit better, allowing you to save up some of your stress for when you need it so you can use a rocket pack, or not get blown up by another player.

Dragon Fight

It seems like it would be tough to hit your opponent without them hitting you, which makes me wonder if the game would end in ties a lot. I love the mechanic of losing movement options as you get damaged. This could give some variety to the game, especially if you made it where movement options were lost at random, forcing players to attempt new strategies. Explaining what each movement/attack option does was a bit wordy, but I think it would be shown pretty clearly with a picture on the card instead of text. Also, the components were cut smaller than allowed by the rules.

Node Conquest

There were a few hidden-stuff strategy games this month. With hidden information, I'm often concerned if the players will have enough information to make their choices interesting. I think the way this one requires memory sets it apart. Although in the beginning you know nothing of what your opponent did, you still have the challenge of remembering where you put your own pieces. Combat would leave survivors often enough to see many of the opponents pieces, adding to the complexity of the memory game. I thought the simple strategy & memory challenge fit well for a game in your pocket, so I voted bronze on this in round 1.

Zoo Contest

This game sounds like a really good chess style game for your pocket. I like that the 3 pieces have slightly different abilities within the same basic framework of moving and retreating. The rock paper scissors element is there, but not in such a simple way of just what beats what. Like how the elephant has a large area of influence against the monkey, but the monkey is faster. I tried to play this one with a friend, but unfortunately they were a bit overwhelmed by all the relationships between pieces and all the retreating. While trying to explain the rules to them, we noticed there were some gaps in the movement relationships. For example, you explicitly state that mice may not move in a square with friendly mice, but don't mention opposing mice. Can they share a space with the enemy? If not, you could just explain that a piece cannot move onto a space with another piece, with only 2 exceptions (since an elephant will never actually move onto the same space as the opposing monkey). I did just try the game out by myself though. It's fun! I voted Silver in Round 1, and I think 3rd in Round 3.

Zag24
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Zoo Contest replies

@thoughtfulmonkey. Thanks! I agree that the game can go longer. It's really up to how fast the players move. However, it's clearly a faster game than chess (at least in my solo playtesting) and people play 5-minute games of that.

@DifferentName: Thanks for the kind words and the feedback. I had originally stated that mice could move on squares with an opposing mouse, but I ran afoul of the 750-word limit so it fell on the cutting room floor. I was trying to imply that all combinations that are not explicitly forbidden are allowed. If you work it out, you'll see that it is impossible to have more than two tokens on any one square. However, I totally appreciate the feedback and I'll be more explicit in my real instructions.

@Everybody: Matt, from MSP Games, has asked me to build up a PnP version of the game for possible production, so I really appreciate any and all feedback.

mindspike
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Goblin Derby (+) Looks like a

Goblin Derby

(+) Looks like a fast playing drag race. It’s got the feel of Mario Kart on a board game. The pickups add a strategic element, and there’s room for much good goblin-insults to be thrown.

(-) The goblin theme feels tacked on to the basic kart race. Not a problem, but noticeable. The short track and highly restrictive movement removes too much variability, but this is due to the component and play time restrictions I think.

Dragon Fight

(+) The movement of the dragons on the game board works really well for the limited number of options. The emphasis is equal parts predicting your opponent and hiding your own actions.

(-) Losing your own movement tokens in order to damage the opponent seems counter-intuitive. This game really suffers from the component restriction, and it doesn’t seem like it wil play satisfactorily in the 10 min time limit.

Node Conquest

(+) As an abstract strategy game, this has a very basic principle that could be applied in all sorts of interesting ways.

(-) Attempting to tack on a theme hurts the game, as does the component restriction. For this to capture my interest, it needs to be much more complex with interconnecting tokens and paths. I’m okay with a pure abstract.

Zoo Contest

(+) The movement is simple and the theme is amusing. The components interact naturally, and I can see playing a version of this with my kids.

(-) The ability of the mice to move other mice around the board seems like it could be troublesome, but I’d want to see it in action more. With only 25 squares on the board, there doesn’t seem to be much room for maneuvering and I want more squares to move pieces on the board.

JTAshby
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Comments for Group 1

Goblin Derby:

I found that the game itself had some interesting components (I liked the stress concept to allow for quick bursts if necessary, and the powerup components quite interesting as well). It felt like a light board game version of Mario Kart! However, I feel that there is no incentive to use your stress, except to maybe get into or out of range of powerups. Two ways that this could be looked at further: 1) Allow the players to take a powerup of their choice from the pile at each checkpoint 2) Have increasingly lower amounts of powerups in each pile (4, 3, 2). Both of these would introduce a bit more incentive to reaching the checkpoints sooner, rather than conserving your stress for a dash at the very end. It can also allow for some player denial by taking the last powerup or the powerup most needed by other players. All in all, it was a fun game to read, and I’m interested to hear more about it in the future!

Dragon Fight:

The concept of the game is interesting – I especially like the wound mechanic, as it slowly limits your options in combat. However, I have some of the same comments as others – it seems like matches are likely to end in a draw, as most attacks can deal similar damage from similar locations. My other concern is the second end condition – is there a way that a player would leave the area? The triangular pieces also feel like they are likely to easily get lost in a wallet due to their size. This game seems interesting, and I think that it could be fleshed out on a larger scale.

Node Conquest:

Interesting concept, seems similar to Stratego in terms of hidden strength and attempting to remove other pieces. I think that it has some serious promise as a game! I had one concern that I could think of while reading the rules. What incentive would a player have to move any pieces that aren’t their strength 3 piece? Since the strength 3 piece cannot be captured, it has free reign of the map to grab one of the 4-node spaces and easily hold it. Could there be a piece similar to the Spy from Stratego, (defeated by any unit if defending, but can also defeat any unit if attacking) as a check to the Strength 3 unit, or more of a RPS for unit capture abilities? Also, the size of the grid might make play very cramped (only 12 spaces, 10 of which are already occupied). Can you increase the amount of open spaces to start?

Zoo Contest:

I really like the strategy and tactics involved with each of the three units. I’d like to test this one out in my gaming circle to see what they think of it, with your permission. I like the balance of each unit, with the exception of the mouse – I feel that the mouse is too powerful. Being able to move and make another mouse as the same action? I feel that it will too severely restrict the elephant’s movement. Maybe only allow the mouse to either move or generate another mouse as one action? Otherwise, I like the game as it stands!

thoughtfulmonkey
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Critiques 25th Dec

Angels and Demons
Obviously images weren't allowed, but because so much of the game was visual I struggled initially with just the text rules. The idea of limited actions, and claiming them, is good. You could have quite a nice visual style of Tarot cards or something Gothic. I didn't actually play it, so it's just a gut feeling but I thought you could easily end up in a state of mutual blocking.

Tower Builders
A nice idea for a ‘take-that’ mechanic. I wasn’t sure how you would know if someone is cheating without seeing their cards - unless there were rules about how players held the cards (e.g. retained card always held in the left hand). It’s also likely that in many games only one player will get the collapse cards - making for an unbalanced game.

War Wizards
It seemed like there were quite a few caveats in the rules. I liked the randomisation of setup, and there was an interesting use of ‘outcome tiles’ as dice. Edit - I got the maths wrong.

Cloak and Dagger
The layout of the board and general theme sounds interesting and novel. The naming of the person at the gate is also interesting. I initially misread the rules - thinking that you could just put 3 people in jail to win. I prefer "you win under conditions A, you lose under conditions B" - rather than "you win under conditions A, or if your opponent meets conditions B". But that's a minor point that didn't seem to throw anyone else. A deserving winner.

thoughtfulmonkey
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Re: Node Conquest

Thanks for all the comments. It was a quick idea thrown in just because I wanted to take part, so all feedback is valuable. I'm planning to do some playtesting and create a PnP version to get the full experience. With the strength of the ideas from everyone else, I'm not disappointed in where I came.

@JTAshby - the idea was that you could gang up on a piece, so if a 3 strength piece is at a 4 junction node, you could try getting your tokens into the surrounding nodes (2x2, 1x2 and 2x1 etc).

JTAshby
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Group 2 discussion

Angels and Demons:

The game itself seems pretty unique – I do like the fact that you can win using your opponents pieces, and how the actions can potentially mess with an opponent. My main concern is that, the way that the rules are written, Player 1 takes all of their actions first, and then Player 2 takes their actions. Given that the actions are part of the board, and it is possible to block players out of potential actions, this gives Player 1 a huge advantage. Could you have players alternate actions, and then clear once all players have played all three of their actions? The powering up of action points would only be usable once per clearing of the board. You could move a powered up piece to the side to indicate that it was used for the turn. Otherwise, I have the same concern as thoughtfulmonkey, in that the game is a bit too visual to completely understand from just reading.

Tower Collapse

Fun concept, and very simple to understand. However, it seems like a highly luck-based game, as a collapse at the end can force a loss, and there's a good chance that one player will get both collapse cards. Maybe weaken the collapse card so that it only destroys the last card played on the tower? This way, a player isn't completely out of the game if a Collapse happens at the end.

War Wizards

I like the way in which chance is introduced into the system, as well as the unique way that the board is arranged. However, I'm not a huge fan of the way that the cards are laid out. The 1-1 card feels redundant, you could just choose to flip the other two and add one to that roll. A different layout could be 0-1, 1-2, and 0-3. This still keeps the range and average possibilities (1 to 6, 3.5 average), but allows for more variance (8 possible combinations instead of only 4).

Cloak and Dagger

Congrats on winning! I really liked the game as written. It is simple, quick, and has an element of strategy as well as chance. It feels almost like Love Letter or Coup, with the small amounts of deception while each play works towards giving away what you might have in your hand. I don't really have any other comments – I'm definitely going to have my playtesting group try it out and give you more detailed feedback down the line. Good work!

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Re: Re: Node Conquest

Thoughtfulmonkey,

I see. I looked back at the rules, and noticed that rule. It makes more sense now, maybe revise that portion to say "reveal one or more tokens adjacent to the defending token, and sum up their strength" to make it less ambiguous?

mindspike
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Notes on games 5-8

Notes on games 5-8

Angels and Demons

(+) The challenge of flipping and positioning in the small space provided seems like it would provide an interesting puzzle challenge.

(-) The theme doesn't seem to play an integral part of the game, and play seems like it can rapidly get very complex. I'm not sure I understand the purpose of the tokens governing plays.

Tower Builders

(+) It's got a bit of competition and some "take that". I can see this becoming a quick pickup card game.

(-) I'd rather see it for more people with a larger deck. With the limited number of cards there are too few options to keep me involved in the game.

War Wizards

(+) I love to see magical duels and appreciate the strong theming that this game brings.

(-) Just reading the rules makes it seem like a very complex game. I don't have a strong understanding of how it works, and feel that there is a lot to keep track of for what is supposed to be a short game.

Cloak and Dagger

(+) Very clean and streamlined play with a strong bluffing element. This fits extremely well within all the guidelines, and I will be trying it out with my gaming group soon.

(-) The theme is really weak, especially with a title like Cloak and Dagger. I'd rather see some cold war spies. The game board is completely unnecessary; positioning within the game is irrelevant since the admit/arrest decision is resolved immediately.

Congrats on the win. Well deserved.

jamespotter
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Thanks to all

Thank you all for the feedback, and I am so excited to have won. I will probably have a PnP in a week or so for those interested.

@thoughtfulmonkey: I actually agree with you on the wording, so my next rules will probably reflect that change. I used the "win" wording to avoid ambiguity, but I think it actually adds to it. If you have any more rules feedback I would greatly appreciate it!

@JTAshby: I would love to hear any and all playtesting feedback your group has. Feel free to PM me with any comments

@mindspike: Thanks so much for helping with GDS. I would also love to hear any feedback you have after playthroughs.

DifferentName
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Angels and Builders and Wizards and Daggers

Angels and Demons
Using the board for using or blocking actions seems unique and interesting, but seems like the game would be pretty complex.

Tower Builders
This game seems mostly random, depending almost entirely on who happens to draw higher value cards, with collapse cards being the highest possible value by undoing everything your opponent has done. Half the time one player will get both collapse cards, almost guaranteeing their victory. The part that isn't random is solvable. Simply hold onto the highest value card, counting collapse cards as the highest, for as long as allowed. This way, if you keep a 10 in your hand when your opponent plays a collapse, you'll score more than if you played it early. Playing the collapse as late as possible lets you destroy more cards, which I imagine you made the 3 turn limit on holding cards, so you can't just play the collapse card last and have both players scoring 0.

If a collapse card only destroyed a few cards, this could help balance it in a way that you try to time it better. But even then, I recommend thinking more about what information players have to go on when making their decision. If information is hidden, what information do players have to go on to figure out what their opponent may be up to?

War Wizards
This game has some good strategy options, like summoner wars. I wonder though, once the wizards are alone, it sounds like they can't damage each other except through terrain spells. Couldn't the opposing wizard just stay off special terrain and be immune to the enemy wizard? This could easily lead to a stalemate once wizards destroy each others armies. I'm surprised you didn't have something to summon armies again. The randomized armies in the beginning bug me, that you could start out with just your wizard against an army. I like randomizing for variety, but at the very start of the game the randomizing should be more balanced, like randomly drawing two units. This way, both wizards get the same number of units, but don't have the same ones each game.

Cloak and Dagger
At first I wasn't sure if you would have enough information to go on when choosing to arrest or admit, but I think the forced lie and limited number of cards really makes it work. Since players have a small number of cards in their hand, they're revealing a lot by naming a card. The possibility of the assassin ending the game right off the bat seems odd, but with such a quick game, it should be fine if you win or lose on turn one and just start another game.

I scribbled a quick version of this on some card stock and played a couple times. It was fun! I won once with sell swords, and the second time by my opponent ending up with nothing but an assassin and a peasant, having to tell me which one they weren't putting at my door. Congratulations on the win. I voted gold in round one, and I think #1 in round 3.

kevnburg
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Games 1-8

Goblin Derby: I enjoyed the stress-concept and the power-up play. I'm not sure about the completely random pick-up selection, though. I'd like to try a variant with different pick-up spots that guarantee getting a specific item (e.g. Red Paint). In terms of my voting: I did not consider this game for a medal because I felt that it had too many small components to easily store in a wallet without losing anything, but it would work fine as a larger game.

Dragon Fight: I really like how opponents lose movement tokens when they take damage because the loss of movement tokens helps to make players' actions more predictable and to later on make players struggle to move optimally, but my favorite part of this game is that the simultaneous movement can cause the dragons to collide with each other. Like Goblin Derby, I did not consider this game for a medal because its numerous small components were not well suited for a wallet. A bigger size would work better, and I'd personally want to see dragon miniatures similar in quality to Fantasy Flight's X-Wing game's.

Node Conquest: Interesting and simple hidden information tactics game that works well with the wallet-size restriction. I liked it. In terms of theme, I pictured fairly generic sword-holding soldiers in a fairly abstract setting; I feel like this game would need some sort of additional mechanic to solidify a theme for it (perhaps a way to win before the turn limit). Without something extra to solidify the theme, abstract may be the way to go.

Zoo Contest: I voted this bronze in the first round of voting. I liked the use of animal relations to determine fleeing rules. The individual animals have interesting flavors to them (even more so than Hive) and I could see potential for adding new animals into the game like Hive has done.

Angels and Demons: Without visuals I had some difficulty conceptualizing this game, and the fairly abstract concept of angels and demons fighting over worldly powers did not help me understand. I feel that a shift to a more concrete theme that matches better with the mechanics may lead to a game that is easier to grasp. With the current theme, simply putting each player more explicitly in a commanding god/priest/archangel role would help players relate to the game.

Tower Builders: I'm concerned about the balance of this game. It seems that the player who manages to, by luck, draw a collapse card towards the end of the game will win. This game would benefit from a tool that counters that strategy. You could, for example, add a fortification card: "When this card is played, all cards below it in the tower are protected from a collapse."

War Wizards: The drop mechanic is an interesting way to add in chance, though I'm personally not that big of a fan of random combat outcomes. I'd prefer guaranteed damage for the combat spells (or at least the option to choose a less powerful attack that is guaranteed to hit). However, I do really like the drop mechanic for the teleport. That makes the teleport a high risk escape maneuver. I'm generally happier with random outcomes in games when the decision to take the action is made to feel like a big risk (e.g. choosing to fight in Doomtown).

Cloak and Dagger: This was my gold medal in the first round of voting. I liked the bluffing and the tension of being able to win on the first turn. It reminded me a bit of E-Card from the anime Kaiji (http://tobakumokushirokukaiji.wikia.com/wiki/E_Card) but with the added prediction benefit of the forced character declarations. Additionally, the rules forcing the players to lie about who is at the gate is an interesting thematic choice.

nomad
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Thanks for the feedback!!!

Thanks for all the feedback... (War Wizards)

mindspike: The game is an extremely stripped down version of a game I did almost 30 years ago. Maybe I didn't water down the rules enough to remove much of the complexity. (I have the rules burned in my brain so I may not have made them as readable as needed.)

JTAshby: The outcome tiles probably should have been as you suggested. This game originally was with dice. And with the time constraints, I should have spent more effort on the tile values.

DifferentName: What may not have been properly conveyed in the rules... The wizards have hand to hand combat (range of 1) so if there are only the wizards left, they would basically move toward each other to fight. The first pass had a Raise Dead spell but after play testing, the game could last much longer. There may have been some confusion in the instructions... The randomized armies at the beginning still give each player three armies, it is randomizing what type of army unit they get. (So each player would always start with 4 units.)

-nomad-

DifferentName
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War Wizards

@Nomad - Oops, I see what you're saying. The wizard counts as a unit, and is able to attack like anything else, just not with the bonuses that other units have. I think my misunderstanding with the units setup was in the wording "Face-up units join that player’s army." I thought that meant face-down units did not join the players army, because I forgot that the unit tiles were described as double sided and there would be no face-down units.

DifferentName
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Treacherous Mediterranean Beasts

Mediterranean Convoy

I like the merchant ships, and can imagine a bit of bluffing as you either try to protect your merchant, or make a ship look like it's not a merchant. But I wonder if this would really work, or if the game would just boil down to attacking things and hoping for the best. With face-down strategy, attacking something seems more like a coin flip, as you hope it's something you can destroy. Node Wars did this, but had a memory element that I felt worked well with the game.

Maybe more interesting ship abilities would help, if they didn't overcomplicate the rules too much. Like, if the submarine couldn't be destroyed when it's first revealed. An ability like this could fit well with the face down merchant element of the game, making a tense situation when you attack a face down opponent, hoping they're not a submarine. Maybe a Destroyer has a second attack that flips an opponent face up, only destroying it if it's a submarine, countering the submarines ability, but being a bit weaker against everything else.

Beasts

Scoring every round in this game would require players to either remember their scores, or to use an outside component to keep track of their scores. Sure, almost everyone has a cell phone they could use to keep track, but for a mini game that goes in your wallet I think a victory that doesn't require multiple rounds of scoring would work better.

I never saw anything in your rules explaining the numbers that are next to the name of each card. I imagine this would be used in scoring, but it's never actually stated.

The Treacherous Pond

This seems like a decent game for the pond player, as they try to make a pond that is impossible to cross. For the mouse it's more of a simple guessing game. Since the pond player gets access to all 6 pond cards, I think this game is solvable. You can simply pair powerful jumps with weak landings, guaranteeing victory against the mouse.

Maybe the pond player should get a randomized hand of pond cards so they don't have complete control to solve the game against the mouse. Two cards at a time may work well. So when two cards have to be placed, you choose the order and which side is face up. When you only need to play one card, you can choose which card.

thoughtfulmonkey
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Critiques 26th Dec

Mediterranean Convoy
I thought the rule around the airstrikes was a bit over complicated to use only one piece. It would be simpler to just have one each. The hidden pieces, that are revealed and remain visible is interesting, and it had a strong theme. There might be a simple way of resolving the interactions between pieces - as suggested in another post. I'm undecided on the optional rules - if they make the game better then they should be core.

Beasts
It seemed very complicated for a 5 minute game, and I'm sorry to say that I didn’t grasp it enough to be able to comment.

The treacherous pond
Very interesting - could be visually very appealing. However, the second player seemed a bit irrelevant - could blind drawing be used instead? To me it seemed more of a solo game. Two states for the mouse was a good mechanic.

DifferentName
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Witty Rodeo

Witty Engine
The rules were written in kind of a complicated way, but the game play is basically just adding or subtracting, and could have been explained much more simply. I could see a lot of games ending in draws, since players would always be able to counter the other players move. The only things that might prevent it from ending at a neutral temperature are the restore normal cards, and the temperature limit, but even then I can see players canceling eachother out pretty easily.
I thought it was odd that you randomize players goals, to be either a straight tug of war (hot goals vs cold goals), or more of a precision tug of war (like trying to get -1 or +2). I wonder if playing the game a bit would show one to be more fun than the other.
For the players turn, when you say "placed the card on the back side of the information card", do you mean the card is played face down? And is not revealed until the next player chooses which card of their own to play? I could see that making the game a little more fun, but that part of the rules is unclear.

Micro Robot Rodeo
I've never played Robo Rally, but this sounds like my understanding of that game. It sounds fun placing things on the board that can either aid my robot or mess with my opponents robot (although thematically it seems odd to call these "programs" when they affect any robot on the board). I wonder how it would play out with the current rules though. It sounds like the only mechanic for a robot to stop is to get stuck, so couldn't they end up in an infinite loop, getting infinite points?

Fences
My game. It was a challenge trying to explain a game that's so visual using only words. Here's a photo!
http://differentname.com/2014/linesWin.jpg

thoughtfulmonkey
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Joined: 12/04/2014
Critiques 27th Dec

Witty Engine
It's a nice simple theme that could be understandable and appealing to children. I can imagine some strategies - needing to dispose of cards at appropriate time (play hot cards when engine is hottest so they have no effect) etc., but overall it seems like winning or losing could feel a bit random. I liked the idea that you could have hot and coldest (or reverse) win conditions - where you could tip it at the last turn - but it might make the last turn the only one that matters.

Micro Robot Rodeo
It wasn't clear to me how the game ends - maybe just a limited number of steps or just until they get locked in a loop/cross all flags? The plan and reveal phase is quite nice. Shame that it’s called micro robot rodeo, but there wouldn’t be any tokens with robots on - the finger trace is the better option but I'd just feel a bit of disappointment after tipping the pieces out.

Fences
The instructions were clear, but the image certainly helps. Without it it's difficult to imagine how much winning would depend on spatial reasoning or luck. The stages of playing from the deck, and then rearranging cards on the table was an interesting mechanic, and a good way of getting around the restrictions. Although it felt like maybe there should be a few more cards - particularly when supporting 4 players.

mindspike
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Notes on games 9-11

Notes on Games 9-11

Mediterranean Convoy

(+) The theme of a quick sea battle really appeals to me. Movement seems simple and straightforward. The use of a rock-paper-scissors mechanic makes conflict a bit strategic but not heavily so.

(-) The RPS mechanic here may not be in compliance with the restrictions. I'd rather see a 7x7 board. Plastic pieces are not permitted (nor really necessary, I think). With the RPS, I'd like to see an even distribution of fighting ships.

I like this idea. It appeals to me.

Beasts

(+) I'm a huge fan of monster taming games. I like to see the different beasts interacting with each other.

(-) I don't have a strong grasp of the rules, but I don't see how the theme of the game relates to play. Moving cards between piles doesn't make a strong connection for me. I don't have a clear grasp of basic strategy in this game, either.

The Treacherous Pond

(+) I feel like there is a lot of potential here, with one player creating a puzzle for the other to solve. The theme is whimsical and appeals to me.

(-) There is a lot of interaction between the components. I feel like I need a cheat sheet to keep track of things. I don't have a strong grasp of the rules and really feel like I need a visual explanation.

mindspike
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Notes on games 12-14

Notes on games 12-14

Witty Engine

(+) Very thematic with a strong tie to game play! I love the guess and guess-again aspect with the cards hidden programmed movement. The big reveal has suspense and excitement.

(-) Some aspects of the rules are unnecessary. In a two player game, you automatically know the goals of the opponent. I don't understand rule 7 about the Normal card, as aren't all cards already played?

Micro Robot Rodeo

(+) I love Robo Rally, and this feels like an effort to shrink that game down to pocket size. The programmed movement can add a great deal of complexity.

(-) I want robot markers, as I don't fancy tracing the route with my hands. I'm uncertain how my programs affect the opponent, and there seems like a lot of things to keep track of in what should be a short game. I feel like a visual explanation would help me a great deal.

Fences

(+) I love the idea of completing areas in this way. I see a great deal of strategy and complexity in the interaction without requiring extensive rules.

(-) The interaction of the colored fences is unclear to me without a visual aid, and I wonder if it is even necessary. The "fences" theme adds nothing to the game, and it would work just as well in the pure abstract.

Zag24
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Zoo Contest replies

Thanks again to everybody who voted for Zoo Contest, and especially to everyone who has commented and provided feedback.

I've made a PnP version of the game, with expanded rules. I would be thrilled if anyone wants to try it and has any feedback.

Here's the thread for any feedback, and the PDF's: http://www.bgdf.com/forum/game-creation/playtesting/zoo-contest-playtest

DifferentName
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Joined: 09/08/2013
Abstract Theme

mindspike wrote:
The "fences" theme adds nothing to the game, and it would work just as well in the pure abstract.

Good eye. The game was completely abstract until I was almost done writing the rules and was trying to come up with a name. I thought giving it a fence theme might help people to visualize what you're trying to do, and might make it a bit quicker to teach that you are trying to "complete a fence" to enclose an area.

I like an abstract theme more than fence building, but still, maybe it helps?

anthiasgames
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Joined: 11/07/2014
Thanks a bunch!

A quick thanks to everybody for the critiques. Running about the place at the moment has me limited for time. I will try to get on here soon and post my own critiques, when I can get to my PC. In the mean time, thank you so much to everybody who has given such good advice on Tower Builders. I have been toying with it a bit, and yes, I have expanded it out with more cards to be a two to four player game, and I love the idea of some kind of "fortification" card. Yes, the three turn limit is there to stop the holding of a collapse card from beginning till end, and it works to some extent. My eagle eyed fiance caught me out every time! However, particularly with the four player mode, an extra bit of protection is a good idea. The extra players make tracking another players held card harder, but also, could be bad if player one simultaneously irritates players two, three and four! (At this stage, with the four player deck, I simply doubled the number of each card. Four collapses in one game could really get frustrating.)

I will be continuing my development of this one, and will be putting in a few extra things as testing proves them workable.

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