Skip to Content

[GDS] February 2011 "Dice Defense" Critiques -- Feedback appreciated

11 replies [Last post]
kungfugeek
kungfugeek's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/10/2008

This is the thread for critiquing entry 24 from the February GDS -- "Dice Defense".

I attempted to repost the entry for easy reference, but couldn't get the images to show up where they needed to be. If it weren't so close to bedtime, I would try harder.

Monsters are invading the country! Use your towers (the dice) to fight the monsters and generate gold to buy more towers.

2-6 players
15-30 minutes

Components

  • 40 6-sided dice
  • 6 Village (sides: Blank, Gold, Hit, Gold, Hit, 2 Gold)
  • 6 Watchtower (sides: Blank, Gold, Hit, Gold, Hit, Hit + Hard Hit)
  • 8 Gold Mine (sides: Blank, Gold, Gold, Gold, 2 Gold, 2 Gold)
  • 8 Ballista (sides: Blank, Hit, Hit, 2 Hits, 2 Hits, 2 Hits)
  • 8 Cannon (sides: Blank, Hit, Hit, Hard Hit, Hard Hit, 2 Hard Hits)
  • 4 Wizard (sides: No Buy, Freeze 1, 2 Hits, 2 Hard Hits, Double Hits, Double Hard Hits)
  • 18 cards
  • 12 Monster cards
  • Each Monster card shows a number of Hit icons and Hard Hit icons, and possibly other modifiers (bonus gold, fewer rerolls, etc).
  • Also, each Monster card has a Splay line about two-thirds of the way down, and some of the icons on the Monster's card are below the Splay line.
    See the Centaur card, attached.
  • 6 double-sided Player cards representing the players' castles
  • Both sides can be orientated to track a player's Damage (1-4 points), and both sides also have an Initiative number (1-6). But the card fronts have icons showing simple single-use special abilities. The later the turn order, the more powerful the ability. When a player uses his ability, he flips his Player card over, indicating it has been used. The abilities are: 1 Hit, 1 Hard Hit, 2 Hits, 2 Hard Hits, 1 Gold, 1 Repair (get 1 Damage back).
    See the PlayerCardFront, attached.

Setup

  1. Each player gets:
    • 1 Player card (dealt randomly)
    • 1 Village
    • 1 Watchtower
  2. Set out all 4 Wizards.
  3. Set out Gold Mines, Ballistas, and Cannons according to the number of players:
    • 2 players: 4 of each
    • 3 players: 5 of each
    • Etc.

Extra dice and Player cards are not used.

Game Play

  1. Reveal a Monster card from the deck and Splay it on top of the previously played Monster card (if any). To Splay it, place it on top of the previous Monster card so that it doesn't cover up anything below the old Monster card's Splay line. The Hit and Hard Hit icons that are showing, both on this new Monster card and on any previous Monster cards, are what you need to roll in order to defeat this monster. All the visible icons are in play! In this way, the Monsters will always get tougher as the game progresses.
    See the CentaurSplayed example, attached.
  2. All players simultaneously roll all of their dice.
  3. Set aside any you want to keep and reroll the rest.
  4. Set aside any of those and make one final roll.
  5. When you're done rolling, count up your Hits and Hard Hits and compare them to the Monster's icons. Hard Hits can count as either Hits or Hard Hits.
  6. If you have a special ability on your Player card that adds hits, you may flip your Player card to use that ability now.
  7. If you don't have enough hits, take 1 Damage by tilting your Player card 90 degrees counter-clockwise. If you take your 4th Damage, your castle is destroyed.
    • If your ability repairs Damage, you may flip your Player card to use that ability now, rotating your Player card clockwise to show that 1 Damage was repaired.
    • The Wizard Tower is special.
    • "No Buy" prevents you from buying a tower this turn.
    • "Freeze 1" forces you to take one of your other dice and turn it to its Blank side.
    • "Double Hits" doubles the number of Hits you score using your other dice. If your other dice score no Hits, this does nothing.
    • "Double Hard Hits", like Double Hits, but for Hard Hits.
  8. All players in Initiative order count up the Gold icons showing on your dice and buy one new die, adding it to your dice pool.
    • If your special ability adds gold, you may flip your Player card to use that ability now.
    • Gold Mines = 1 Gold.
    • Ballista = 2 Gold.
    • Cannons = 3 Gold.
    • Wizards = 4 Gold.
  9. Repeat 1-3 until the Monster deck is depleted or a player's castle is destroyed.

Game End

Finish the round in which a player's castle is destroyed or the Monster deck is depleted. Each die you have is worth points:

  • Villages / Watchtowers = 0
  • Ballista = 2
  • Cannons / Gold Mines = 3
  • Wizards = 4

The surviving player with the most points wins!

kungfugeek
kungfugeek's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/10/2008
Attached images?

I swear they were there in the preview....

Sir William
Offline
Joined: 02/19/2011
I thought Dice Defense was an

I thought Dice Defense was an interesting theme (my assumption was that it is a dice based “Tower Defense” game), but that it was somewhat limited in its ability to be successful with the components that we had to work with. That can be successful of course, but now that the contest is over I think it might be interesting to consider increasing the scale of the game somewhat.

This is thinking in terms of Tower Defense, but one addition that I think would have drawn my interest more would have been some sort of game board or tile laying aspect so that you have the option of placing your dice towers in a meaningful/strategic way. Within the restraints of the GDS I can’t think of an immediate way to achieve this, perhaps some sort of range aspect then placing the towers you roll in a certain order as the monster “move” through the towers.

kungfugeek
kungfugeek's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/10/2008
Components

Yeah, I've played a lot of Tower Defense games and that's what I was going for, knowing I'd have to abstract everything out of it.

I kind of liked the component restrictions. They were based on a commonly available box size and were really practical for publication because of that.

Not that I wouldn't ever consider expanding the scope at all, but I'm really married to the component restrictions at the moment. :)

Sir William
Offline
Joined: 02/19/2011
kungfugeek wrote:Yeah, I've

kungfugeek wrote:
Yeah, I've played a lot of Tower Defense games and that's what I was going for, knowing I'd have to abstract everything out of it.

I kind of liked the component restrictions. They were based on a commonly available box size and were really practical for publication because of that. Not that I wouldn't ever consider expanding the scope at all, but I'm really married to the component restrictions at the moment. :)

Then my main thought would be something to do with setting the dice towers in a certain order. Adding range to the towers and then having the mini-card monsters move through the spaes between the dice. I'll give it some more thought and try to come back with something with more substance.

kungfugeek
kungfugeek's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/10/2008
Was also trying to keep the

Was also trying to keep the rule set simple, too. The mini card monsters would be hard to move because they have to stack on top of each other in order to get stronger.

Adding range, placement, and movements rules is a little scary. I've tried that before and never landed on anything elegant.

drktron
drktron's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/18/2010
In general I liked Dice

In general I liked Dice Defense and gave it a vote in the first round.

I think a tower defense dice game was an interesting and unique choice. I'm not particularly a big fan of this type of a game but I give you credit for the conversion.
I also liked how the the creature cards overlap to make them harder. Its unclear if they keep splaying with all previous creatures or just the immediately previous one. This is a cool idea but you would really have to fine tune the balancing between this and the additional dice purchased for it to work.

The abilities on the player cards is also clever. However im not sure how balanced the inititive numbers are with the abilities. Is it really such an advantage to buy first and a hit vs a 2hard hit ability? Its seem like your stuck with the same ability and initiative throughout the game. It would work better if this changed over the course of the game.

Also maybe three rolls (2 rerolls) is too many. Just a hunch though. With three rolls the blank sides are useless. Try it with one reroll and see.

Another suggestion is to reward a player for how intact their castle stands at the games end.

The game also has limited player interaction. Theres no way to affect the other players beyond purchasing the dice they may want (which is probably the dice you want anyway). Maybe have the players take turns playing the creatures and inversly tie that to initiative. Maybe have ways to affect the other players dice.

Anyway I don't mean to seem negative, I like the design and think it has potential

kungfugeek
kungfugeek's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/10/2008
Thank you

drktron wrote:
In general I liked Dice Defense and gave it a vote in the first round.

Thanks! And thank you for this feedback. It's exactly what I was looking for.
drktron wrote:

I think a tower defense dice game was an interesting and unique choice. I'm not particularly a big fan of this type of a game but I give you credit for the conversion.
I also liked how the the creature cards overlap to make them harder. Its unclear if they keep splaying with all previous creatures or just the immediately previous one. This is a cool idea but you would really have to fine tune the balancing between this and the additional dice purchased for it to work.

One of my biggest concerns was that the splaying thing would be unclear. Yes, the monsters splay on all the previous creatures. So the round 3 creature will show the "splay stuff" for the round 2 *and* round 1 creatures. It forms a stack that gets taller as the game progresses.

Balancing hasn't been too bad, so far. Mostly I need to make up my mind about how easy it should be to get to the end.

drktron wrote:

The abilities on the player cards is also clever. However im not sure how balanced the inititive numbers are with the abilities. Is it really such an advantage to buy first and a hit vs a 2hard hit ability? Its seem like your stuck with the same ability and initiative throughout the game. It would work better if this changed over the course of the game.

Yeah, this can be a cause for concern. So far in my playtests it has felt right but that could change. Also remember that the ability is single-use. So you can use those two hard hits once, and you're done with them for the game (the player cards are double-sided, the opposite side indicates that the power was used). That being said, a 2 hard hit can help you survive one extra turn, where the guy who goes first might not survive that turn, which is enough to swing the game. On the other hand, the 1st player has an advantage late game when the dice start to get scarce. You really need to buy a die almost every turn to stay in the game. Some of the creature cards have things that give you a breather (one of them lets all players repair one damage, for example), but for the most part, the game gets really really hard if you have one or two fewer dice than your opponents. Not counting gold mines, which don't directly help you survive (which is also why they're worth more points at the end of the game).
drktron wrote:

Also maybe three rolls (2 rerolls) is too many. Just a hunch though. With three rolls the blank sides are useless. Try it with one reroll and see.

This one I'm not sure about. The purpose of the blank side is so there is always a chance that, if you reroll any given die, you might end up with nothing. That way, if you're looking at a die that *could* improve, and decide to reroll it, you're always taking a risk of ending up with something worse than what you had.

Consider a roll where you get 1 hit for the village and 1 for the ballista, but no gold. Two hits are what you need for this round. But you really need a gold, too. So now you have a choice. You could stay with the two hits, knowing you'd survive the round but wouldn't be able to buy anything, or reroll them both hoping to get a gold for the village and two hits for the ballista. Having the blank sides there adds a risk to that decision -- you could end up without any gold or hits!

Three rolls was handy because I have a monster that takes away a reroll (thematically, I decided that they were fast monsters -- the 1 less reroll was because your towers would be less effective against fast monsters). Maybe even two. Also, it is a fairly tight game, especially toward the end, and I wanted players to have some sense of control and have a good chance of using their towers to their fullest effect.

drktron wrote:

Another suggestion is to reward a player for how intact their castle stands at the games end.

Shoot! This *is* a rule and I forgot to put it in the submission! Right now, you get 5 points per hit remaining on your castle.
drktron wrote:

The game also has limited player interaction. Theres no way to affect the other players beyond purchasing the dice they may want (which is probably the dice you want anyway). Maybe have the players take turns playing the creatures and inversly tie that to initiative. Maybe have ways to affect the other players dice.

I originally had more interaction, mostly from the Wizard die, where certain results allowed you to mess with the other players. Playtesting feedback was that it wasn't necessary and didn't fit, so I took it out.

Also, I was concerned that other forms of interaction (trading towers, sharing towers) would add too many rules. I thought I was pushing the upper limits of "quick and light" as it was. In the back of my mind the target "simplicity level" was Zombie Dice -- and this was already a good bit more complex than that.

drktron wrote:

Anyway I don't mean to seem negative, I like the design and think it has potential

Not at all. I really appreciate your feedback. Thank you!

jekow
Offline
Joined: 01/31/2011
some thoughts.

In a lot of ways, I'm a thousand foot view guy. yes i do get into the nitty gritty details once in a while, but overall I like to stay zoomed out. That being said...

Trying to figure out what a game plays like from reading a page of rules is impractical at best. Graphics design helps in this regard and I would encourage you to post some updated graphics on your design which help describe what it is you're trying to accomplish.

yes, you want to make a Tower defense game using dice. Got it. The first question you should ask yourself is this:
What is the real experience in a Tower Defense game and how do i re-create it in boardgame form.

My personal belief is that a Tower defense game is at its heart a puzzle game. I do not believe it is a strategy or tactical game, again, at its heart. yes you could have some of those other elements...nevertheless.

I think you have too many rules. Strip everything away to the bare bones. What are the bare bones?
A monster
A tower
A cost for the tower
A hit point amount for the monster
starting money
value for killing the monster

work with the basics until you have a skeleton. Then as you continue to refine, you can add in things like "hard hits" and whatnot. Don't go for complexity out of the gate, because you'll just end up getting a mutant organism that looks like the abomination from war3.

I like tower defense games, but you should realize that they have limited replay value. How will you increase replay value? This is another question to answer before adding complexity.

If you can't have something with a degree of replay value before it becomes complex, you may achieve replay after adding complexity, but it won't be elegant or interesting. See: Arkham Horror the board game.

Think about a game of capture the flag, where you have variable pre-game start positions. Right there, in its infancy, the game automatically has Replay potential. Now you can add layers. Add in Terrain advantage. How about being able to purchase a piece of terrain or object before the game?

Puzzles are boring. That's why you DO a puzzle and you PLAY a game.

Here is your true challenge.
Can you make a Tower Defense game that is NOT a puzzle but retains that special experience?

Of course, you are free to disagree with everything or anything I've said. This is my stream of consciousness here, I'm not fixing spelling or whatever.

kungfugeek
kungfugeek's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/10/2008
Thanks for the feedback!

Thanks for the feedback!

jekow wrote:

I think you have too many rules. Strip everything away to the bare bones. What are the bare bones?

I'm not sure where the complexity that you're talking about is. But in an effort to summarize, here's the thousand-foot view:
One player flips up a monster card.
Every player rolls their dice, going for hits and gold.
If you don't get enough hits, take a damage.
Take turns buying towers with the gold you rolled.
Repeat until you get through the deck, or somebody dies.
jekow wrote:

A monster
A tower
A cost for the tower
A hit point amount for the monster
starting money
value for killing the monster

Got all those except the last two. You get gold from rolling your dice, so you have to choose between going for hits or gold, or pushing your luck and trying for both. You don't get value from killing a monster (which is something that I thought never made sense in most tower defense games anyway).

Also, you forgot a few other ingredients to a tower defense game: Monsters get tougher every wave, and there are different types of towers.

jekow wrote:

work with the basics until you have a skeleton. Then as you continue to refine, you can add in things like "hard hits" and whatnot. Don't go for complexity out of the gate, because you'll just end up getting a mutant organism that looks like the abomination from war3.

That is pretty much what I did. I didn't bother posting the "skeleton" to the GDS, though. That would have been a fairly boring entry. So I just included the smallest number of things that would still show some of the game's potential, like wizards with their goofy powers, and monsters that add extra gold for the round.
jekow wrote:

I like tower defense games, but you should realize that they have limited replay value. How will you increase replay value? This is another question to answer before adding complexity.

If you can't have something with a degree of replay value before it becomes complex, you may achieve replay after adding complexity, but it won't be elegant or interesting. See: Arkham Horror the board game.


There is some replay value in the order in which monsters come out. Some monsters have two hits below the splay line, some have one, some might add a gold for the rest of the game, or take a gold away. The order in which they come up changes the game. Sometimes it puts pressure on the players early, and sometimes it gives them a breather to build up some infrastructure. Since all a player has to worry about is flipping up one card and splaying it on the previous one, and all the icons are visible and apparent, I thought the solution was rather elegant. It added replay value while keeping a holy grail of tower defense games: making monsters tougher each wave.

There is also some replay value in the different player powers. Is that what you meant by "adding complexity"? And playing with different numbers of players changes the game, as well.

jekow wrote:

Think about a game of capture the flag, where you have variable pre-game start positions. Right there, in its infancy, the game automatically has Replay potential. Now you can add layers. Add in Terrain advantage. How about being able to purchase a piece of terrain or object before the game?

I do disagree with this, because the example of capture the flag w/variable start positions isn't really simple at all. It sounds simple the way you phrased it, but there are a lot of rules already implied there, like movement rules and rules about how a flag is reached, picked up, carried, and captured. All that would have to be detailed right out of the gate, even when the game is in its infancy. And having start positions that are variable isn't as simple as it sounds, either, because now you have to have rules about which start positions are valid and how the players get their start positions (whether randomly or by choice, and how).

But either way, this sounds more like you're critiquing the process of design, but not the game itself. So should I be reading your feedback in that light instead?

jekow wrote:

Here is your true challenge.
Can you make a Tower Defense game that is NOT a puzzle but retains that special experience?

Yeah, that's what I'm trying to do. Having played the game several times, I do think I'm pretty close. It does feel like you're being attacked by wave after wave of monsters, and you have to strategically choose which towers to build and when. The experience is a little different in that it's multi-player, so you are competing with other players for a limited pool of towers, but I found that makes your buying decisions even more interesting.
jekow wrote:

Of course, you are free to disagree with everything or anything I've said. This is my stream of consciousness here, I'm not fixing spelling or whatever.

Duly noted. Thanks for the feedback!

jekow
Offline
Joined: 01/31/2011
.

These comments might be more beneficial than my last.

I think your goal should be true cooperative survival. I would ditch “earning points” as a player.

Rather than have separate castles. You might consider that each player is in charge of a part of the castle. If a part is destroyed, the player "falls back" to a inner part.

I would (personally) steer clear from mixing the aspects of cooperative play with a single player “winning”. I would instead stick with, “we will all survive the onslaught, or we will all die the deaths of heroes.”

I think it becomes more epic that way.

kungfugeek
kungfugeek's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/10/2008
Appreciate the input

Thanks for the suggestion, but it's fully-competitive as it is. There isn't a hint of co-op in it. Mixing co-op and competitive, as you noted, doesn't work.

I'm going to stick with that, too. Co-ops are not my thing. I'm not going for the epic feel, anyway. Just going for the quick playing dice game.

Thanks!

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut