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[GDS] February 2011 "Rolling Plunder" Critiques

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onihero
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Joined: 01/24/2010
Rolling Plunder - Components

This thread is for critiques of the game "Rolling Plunder" that was submitted to the Feb 2011 GDS.

The concept of the game was for a quick playing, thematic dice driven game that had a bit of strategic and tactical oomph to it. The component limitation held back the design a bit (as Im sure it did for everyone). Here I will list the other additions/alterations that would have been, had there been more components available.

  1. More Locations - This would have allowed for a larger play area and more ability to 'hide' from other players. Of course, this could also be accomplished by marrying two sets together. This leads into the next item:

  2. More dice - I like the idea of rolling 4 dice standard, instead of 3. To do so, the ship cards would need more hits to them and there would possibly need to be more locations on the table (more cards).

  3. More ship cards and types - The regular ships and naval ships are great, but I crave a little more variety (of course, has to be balanced with the elegance and ease of learning/play). Non-player Pirate ships was one idea. If you are on a location when one of these are revealed, you must give up one of your loot cards to it. The player to defeat that pirate receives whatever loot that pirate holds (it could obtain multiple loot if multiple players are at that location when it is revealed).

  4. More ship cards at each location - Initially, the idea was to have 2 ship cards revealed at each location. This gives more strategic choice of where you assign your cannon shots from your rolls.

  5. Treasure cards - Mixed in with the ship cards. These cards would simply be loot cards that players obtain if they are at the location when they are revealed. Allows for a bit more strategy of where you place what and making sure you are the player that reveals it.

  6. No Risk, No Reward - Allowing players to roll an extra dice when they are at 3 bounty.

  7. End conditions - Initial end conditions was for all ship cards to be cleared off of the board before the game ends. This would make for a longer game and prevent the leading player from trying to wipe a single location as quickly as possible (which would also make him an easier target if he is carrying a bounty). Also could be accomplished by having more ship cards at each location (and having any single location cleared out of cards).

Here is the initial game entry:

Rolling Plunder

by Ty'ger Welch

A low-cost quick playing rum soaked loot filled game of plundering pirates and scurvy scallywags.

Players act as Pirate captains with unruly crews on the high seas. Players roll dice to determine their actions. Pirate crews are often drunk on rum and wont always do what their captain wants. The player can re-roll the dice to try to get the actions they need but must be careful of having a bounty placed on their head. Bounties open them up to attacks from other players.

The object is to travel from location to location attacking the merchant ships that are sailing there. The pirate that delivers the last shot on a ship gets the loot. Everyone knows that the pirate with the most loot wins.

Components

  • 4 Location Cards
  • 14 Ship Cards
    • 10 Merchants
    • 4 Navy Ships
  • 4 Action Dice
  • 4 Pirate Ship Dice

Setup

Each player receives 1 Pirate Ship Die that represents their Pirate Ship and how much of a bounty is on their heads. Shuffle the Ship Cards and deal 12 to the players. Place 4 randomly selected Location Cards on the table next to each other (Location Cards are double sided, but only 1 side will be used).

Alt Components

The players take turns placing a Ship Card face down on a location until all 12 Ship Cards are placed. No location can have more than 3 Ship Cards. The players then choose a location to place their Pirate Ship Die (making sure that it is placed showing no bounty symbols).

Once the Pirate Ships are placed, flip the top Ship Card for each location over and slide them under the location card so they are undamaged. Play begins.

Location Cards

Each location provides a bonus to the players when their turn starts unless otherwise specified.

  • Pirate Cove
    • Remove a Bounty from the player when their turn ends here
  • High Winds
    • Player receives a bonus Move
  • Merchant Port
    • Player rolls an extra Action Die
  • Lost Island
    • Player may re-roll 1 Skull
  • Patrolled Waters
    • Player receives a bonus Skull
  • Neutral Port
    • Players may not be attacked here
  • Heavy Fog
    • Player rolls one less Action Die
  • Trade Waters
    • Place 2 more Ship Cards on this location

Sequence of Play

  1. Roll
  2. Perform Actions
  3. Replenish Ships

Roll

Players roll 3 Action Dice to determine their Pirate Ship's actions. The player may re-roll any number of results up to 2 times. If a Skull result is rolled, it is set aside and cannot be re-rolled.

Dice Results

The Action Dice have 4 possible results.

Alt Dice

  • Move (2 sides)

    • Move results allows a player to move their ship to a location adjacent to their own.
  • Cannon (2 sides)

    • Cannon results allows a player to attack a ship (or player) at their current location.
  • Doubloon (1 side)

    • Doubloon results can be used to reduce a player's Bounty. Every 2 Doubloon results will reduce a player's Bounty by one.
  • Skull (1 side)

    • A Skull result cannot be rerolled (unless the player's location specifies otherwise). For every 2 Skull results rolled, the player must add a bounty to their Pirate Ship. This is done by turning the die so that the correct number of Bounty icons are shown.

Action

Players must perform all actions shown on their Action Dice. They can perform these actions in any order.

Movement

Moving a ship to an adjacent location takes 1 Move. The play area does not wrap around.

Attacking Ships

Each Cannon action will damage a Ship Card once. Damage is represented by sliding the Ship Card out from under the location card enough to reflect how much damage it has taken. If the Loot result is revealed, that player takes the card.

Alt Shipcards

Bounties

A player may attack another player at their location only if that other player's Ship Die shows any number of Bounty icons and the attacking player has enough Cannons.

  • 3 Cannons for a 1 Bounty player
  • 2 Cannons for a 2 Bounty player
  • 1 Cannon for a 3 Bounty player

If successful, they randomly take 1 of their opponent's loot cards and their opponent resets their Bounty to 0.

Replenish Ships

If any location does not have a Ship Card showing, flip over the next card in that location's stack and slide it under the location undamaged. If the ship is marked as a Navy Ship, every pirate at that location gains a Bounty.

Victory

The game ends when any location has no Ship Cards in its stack at the end of a turn. The players count up their Loot. The most Loot wins.

kungfugeek
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Point, counterpoint...

onihero wrote:

1. More Locations - This would have allowed for a larger play area and more ability to 'hide' from other players. Of course, this could also be accomplished by marrying two sets together. This leads into the next item:

I wouldn't go to more than 5 locations, unless you also go to 5-6 players. Or just have the number of locations = number of players +2. I'm not sure hiding from other players would be a fun aspect of the game. But maybe I'm not seeing the whole picture. I'd think you could effectively "hide" by going for doubloons to pay down your bounty.
onihero wrote:

2. More dice - I like the idea of rolling 4 dice standard, instead of 3. To do so, the ship cards would need more hits to them and there would possibly need to be more locations on the table (more cards).

Because of more movement and damage? Could you instead alter the rules so that it takes 2 cannons to damage a ship, or something like that? Maybe two cannons to damage it once, 3 to damage it twice, and a perfect roll of 4 cannons to damage it 3 times. For the movement, you could do something similar. I'm not sure if this messes up your math or not. Getting more hits on the ship cards would make them look a little too busy, I think. They are very nice looking right now.
onihero wrote:

3. More ship cards and types - The regular ships and naval ships are great, but I crave a little more variety (of course, has to be balanced with the elegance and ease of learning/play). Non-player Pirate ships was one idea. If you are on a location when one of these are revealed, you must give up one of your loot cards to it. The player to defeat that pirate receives whatever loot that pirate holds (it could obtain multiple loot if multiple players are at that location when it is revealed).

I like it, but only because players set the locations up themselves at the start of the game. Otherwise, it would be too much of a random swing for me. BTW: Is there anything to prevent one player from stocking all his cards on one location, and thus knowing everything that's there?
onihero wrote:

4. More ship cards at each location - Initially, the idea was to have 2 ship cards revealed at each location. This gives more strategic choice of where you assign your cannon shots from your rolls.

I'm not too crazy about this one. I don't think it could be represented as easily by the physical components, and I'm just not sure the added decision is warranted. But maybe play tests will prove me wrong.
onihero wrote:

5. Treasure cards - Mixed in with the ship cards. These cards would simply be loot cards that players obtain if they are at the location when they are revealed. Allows for a bit more strategy of where you place what and making sure you are the player that reveals it.

As long as they aren't worth as many points as the ships themselves, I think this would be neat.
onihero wrote:

6. No Risk, No Reward - Allowing players to roll an extra dice when they are at 3 bounty.

I do like this one.
onihero wrote:

7. End conditions - Initial end conditions was for all ship cards to be cleared off of the board before the game ends. This would make for a longer game and prevent the leading player from trying to wipe a single location as quickly as possible (which would also make him an easier target if he is carrying a bounty). Also could be accomplished by having more ship cards at each location (and having any single location cleared out of cards).

Stick with the single location idea. I think this game wants to be rather short.

My two cents. Congrats on the win and this great design!

onihero
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Joined: 01/24/2010
More is better?

1. Yes, staying at 4-5 sounds like a good bet. We certainly want a bit of player interaction. We do want more location choices however, to change the game each time it is played.

2. Having more hits on the ship cards would make the artwork difficult on the half sized cards. However, removing that constraint and changing them to full sized cards changes everything. Having just 1 more die added to the standard rolls increases how much choice a player has each turn, both is what dice to reroll and how to allocate their move/shoot distribution. Will have to see how each plays out in playtesting.

3. The idea was to incorporate an element of strategy in placing the ship cards (planning ahead where certain undesirable locations were, and knowing where some desirable cards would appear). Adding in the treasure cards would increase this a bit. The other players are what would prevent a single player from placing all his ship cards in one location.

4. This one certainly increases the complexity of the game a bit. Balancing the complexity with the ease of gameplay is a bit of a highwire act. I had thought that the game lacked a bit of choice and wanted to put 2 ship cards at each location to increase it. This way if you rolled 3 cannons, your turn would not simply be decided for you.

7. Agreed about wanting a short playtime. This can be settled upon with playtesting. End condition could easily be something as simple as # of turns, or whoever reaches X amount of loot first wins.

Thanks for the input!
Ty

kos
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Joined: 01/17/2011
Rolling Plunder

During the first round voting in the Feb GDS, I voted primarily based on two considerations, as well as my general impression of the rules:
1) Did the entry meet the requirements?
2) Did the theme interest me?

For this entry I felt that it did not pass the first criteria, namely the requirement that the game be "comprised primarily of dice". I felt that this game was primarily a card game supplemented by a dice-rolling mechanic, rather than "comprised primarily of dice". Nevertheless, the game is a well deserved winner based on the voting results, and I certainly agree that it looks like a good game. Here is my critique:

Good
- The theme is attractive and easy for new players to understand -- new players will have no problem in understanding that they are supposed to sink the merchants and collect the loot, even without having it explained to them.
- I like the way that the players place the ship cards face down at the start. This means that there is secret information with a memory component -- the players have to remember which ships they put where, if they are to use it to their advantage.
- The damage mechanic is innovative and nicely presented. My only suggestion here would be to reverse the order of the illustrations, so the undamaged ship is at the bottom and the damaged ship at the top. Thus the ship cards "sinks" (i.e. moves downwards) as it takes more damage (thematically, this may be more intuitive).
- I like the way that the more somebody pushes their luck the more vulnerable they become to attack from other players.

Suggestions for Improvement
- The competition entry required a maximum of 18 "half size cards". Given the reliance on the graphical information presented on such small cards and their precise placement (the damage mechanic), I feel this game might not be practical to play. Outside of the competition restrictions though and using full size cards, this problem goes away.

Well done on your entry to the competition. I wish you all the best.

Regards,
kos

bhazzard
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Joined: 01/25/2011
Out Of Curiousity

Just out of curiosity, did you do the game design and the graphic design? if not, who did your art?

onihero
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Joined: 01/24/2010
Rolling Plunder Input

kos,

Thanks for the input!

When I read the rules and the requirements, I read "comprised primarily of dice" to mean "dice driven". I did not want to design a game that was as simple as Zombie Dice or Cthulhu Dice. I figured that using the cards as targets, score keeping devices and locations, it would allow for a bit more depth of play (choice) beyond simply rolling dice and counting up the results (which of course could be fun in its own right).

Beyond choosing where to lay your ship cards (the memorization and later strategy of making sure your ship is where it should be when those cards come up), the core of the game is driven by the dice rolls (and modified by the locations).

Rereading it all, I definitely see that it could mean that the game should be made physically primarily of dice. My mistake if that was the intent! I am glad the entry was so well received even if it bent this a bit.

The half sized cards were a challenge, especially with using them to mark damage during the game play. Moving to full sized cards would alleviate that (and so would keeping half sized cards, but adding a counter element to track damage on the ships).

Again, I certainly appreciate all the input!

kos wrote:

1) Did the entry meet the requirements?

For this entry I felt that it did not pass the first criteria, namely the requirement that the game be "comprised primarily of dice". I felt that this game was primarily a card game supplemented by a dice-rolling mechanic, rather than "comprised primarily of dice". Nevertheless, the game is a well deserved winner based on the voting results, and I certainly agree that it looks like a good game. Here is my critique:

Good
- The theme is attractive and easy for new players to understand -- new players will have no problem in understanding that they are supposed to sink the merchants and collect the loot, even without having it explained to them.
- I like the way that the players place the ship cards face down at the start. This means that there is secret information with a memory component -- the players have to remember which ships they put where, if they are to use it to their advantage.
- The damage mechanic is innovative and nicely presented. My only suggestion here would be to reverse the order of the illustrations, so the undamaged ship is at the bottom and the damaged ship at the top. Thus the ship cards "sinks" (i.e. moves downwards) as it takes more damage (thematically, this may be more intuitive).
- I like the way that the more somebody pushes their luck the more vulnerable they become to attack from other players.

Suggestions for Improvement
- The competition entry required a maximum of 18 "half size cards". Given the reliance on the graphical information presented on such small cards and their precise placement (the damage mechanic), I feel this game might not be practical to play. Outside of the competition restrictions though and using full size cards, this problem goes away.

Well done on your entry to the competition. I wish you all the best.

Regards,
kos

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