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[GDS] JANUARY 2016 "Stronger together" critiques thread

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richdurham
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Here are the voting results for the January GDS:

Critique Date Title Designer Points
18 Jan The King's Gold ElKobold 15
19 Jan Twain Arthur Wohlwill 6
20 Jan Pirate Jailbreak BIM 7
21 Jan Mirrors markgrafn 11
22 Jan Up A Creek killerkilroy 8
23 Jan 3..2..1.. Showtime andymakespasta 13
24 Jan Where are you my love? Hook 1
25 Jan For love... Angela876020 4
26 Jan Strategic Partnership andymorris 7

When you critique, please indicate what you liked and didn't like about the entry. Then talk about what you would have liked to see more of with the entry. Focus on how well it met the requirements, how well written the entry is, and how evocative the description is in making you want to play. If you like, indicate whether you voted for the entry or not.

andymakespasta
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I feel the challenge this

I feel the challenge this time was to design the game around the cooperative aspect. It's easy to fall into the trap of designing a normal game, then cutting it in half, and restricting the player's communication. So in the end, I voted for games that was centered around the coop, and could simply not be played if you remove communication restrictions.

Congratulation to Mr. Kobold for The King's Gold. Good luck with your KS campaign too!

I really like the idea of two players with one affecting the environment, and one moving on the board, and how managing gold is handled: you can spend it on useful things or on communication.

However, I felt that in this game, communication is one sided, with the king basically giving hints on how tough the monsters are, and the hero playing the game. The hero simply doesn't have many signals he can send the king.

What might happen is, you have two players playing individual games: The king is managing his kingdom, and seeing how much money he can spare to the hero. Also, he tries his best to tell the hero how tough the monsters are. The Hero is managing his quest cards, doing his best to get strong, and not waste cards fighting too powerful monsters.

Tl;dr. Loved the premise, but took points for not enough cooperation, at least from what I could make of the game.

ElKobold
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andymakespasta wrote:Tl;dr.

andymakespasta wrote:
Tl;dr. Loved the premise, but took points for not enough cooperation, at least from what I could make of the game.

Thanks, Andy!

True about the one-sided communication. But that was the plan :) Thematically, I wanted the King not to communicate with the "lowly commoner".

polyobsessive
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Congratulations! Great work!

So, the King's Gold got a medal from me.

I'm a sucker for asymmetric games and will generally give them at least a second look, and this one intrigued me. It looks like the main challenge is for the King to get the Hero to level up sufficiently quickly by before moving on to dealing with the more serious threats -- maybe he needs to put bounties on the easy monsters to start with and switch off when the Hero looks tough enough.

I'd like to see what is on the various cards and how they work together, and was also wondering if monsters get to attack buildings while on their rampage. All in all, I reckon this shows some promise and I'd like to see how the design grows (or has grown).

ElKobold
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polyobsessive wrote:So, the

polyobsessive wrote:
So, the King's Gold got a medal from me.

I'm a sucker for asymmetric games and will generally give them at least a second look, and this one intrigued me. It looks like the main challenge is for the King to get the Hero to level up sufficiently quickly by before moving on to dealing with the more serious threats -- maybe he needs to put bounties on the easy monsters to start with and switch off when the Hero looks tough enough.

I'd like to see what is on the various cards and how they work together, and was also wondering if monsters get to attack buildings while on their rampage. All in all, I reckon this shows some promise and I'd like to see how the design grows (or has grown).

Thanks :) Well, full disclosure: with the ongoing Kickstarter this didn't go past the initial pitch and an idea in my head. I promise I`ll come up with at least a proof of concept prototype some time after we're funded :)

You are pretty accurate in your description, though. My idea was for the king to set bounties just high enough, so that hero could deal with the monsters that the king wanted him to deal with, at the same time, not overspending and losing due to running out of money.
While the hero should be smart with how he spends bounties, purchases quest cards and fights monsters.

The funny situation would be if the king have set a high bounty, thinking that this is the right target, then suddenly some especially nasty monster pops up and he has to set an even higher bounty, to redirect the hero there, which can have a domino effect. In theory, of course :) We'll see how it will actually work, once I`ll make a prototype.

And yes, buildings are supposed to be built on locations and monsters could pillage those.

andymorris
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Congratulations

Congrats on the win. King's Gold got my gold. I thought forcing both players to be equally engaged was the key to the challenge. I thought the asymmetric play was the best solution for this. Nice job.

ElKobold
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andymorris wrote:Congrats on

andymorris wrote:
Congrats on the win. King's Gold got my gold.

Thanks!

andymorris
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Thoughts on Twain

This one did not get a medal for me. While I like spelling games, I don't feel like they ought to be cooperative. I think the basic idea of making pools of letters until someone says go is interesting and could be a fun competitive game.

andymakespasta
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I felt twain has a very

I felt twain has a very interesting element of "cooperative spotting", where both players have to see the same answer to win. The number of available letters is always 10, and the "freedom" of word length gradually decreases. In this sense, player B has a push your luck element to it. Unfortunately, player B only gains the benefit of using player A's tiles rather than their own tiles. So if player B can spot a good word amongst his own tiles, as soon as player A puts in the missing letters, he would jump for it. Maybe place bonus points on A's tiles, or make them worth more?

The game end condition of losing when you fail a round is pretty harsh. Also, I think the game would be more interesting if there was some sort of progression across rounds: number of tiles change, scoring changes etc.

Tl;dr Twain has many problems in it's design, but a new word game is something you don't see every day.

polyobsessive
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Twain

I like that this game uses easily available components. It looks like quite a decent alternative word game and I may well give it a try some time -- and it's cool that the game is playable just from this short treatment. Twain also makes good use of the two-player format. Thanks for this one.

BIM
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Twain time

I like the minimal communication between players. This would make for good discussion after each round, which is something I enjoy about playing games: breaking it down together afterwards.

The timer being reduced as you play is interesting, but I'm also stressed just thinking about it. :) Personally, I would maybe keep a standard time for each round (possible 2 minutes) or increase the number of tiles each round, but that's just me.

I liked the readily available components as well. It's a game idea the wife and I could do tonight if we wanted.

While I didn't give this one of my medals, it was a top 5 entry for me.

andymorris
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Thoughts on Jailbreak

This got a silver from me. I thought the idea of having the players shackled together was great for a two player coop. The combination of choosing your own movement and individual goals should keep both players active. My only concern would be if having to move all the pieces every time would be too fiddly. Overall an interesting concept.

Arthur Wohlwill
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Re; Twain

Thanks for your comments. I had originally thought of a less harsh penalty. (You get a negative score if you fail to make a word and the penalty increases each round. You lose when your score gets to zero (you start with a positive score. It should be that the number of tiles does change every round as well as the time.
I had not thought about making the A player's tiles worth more' that is a good idea.

polyobsessive
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Pirate Jailbreak

This looks like it could be fun (I'm still a sucker for pirates, and I don't think I've seen a co-op pirate game), but it also looks like it could easily have one player playing both positions. The programmed movement of NPCs should be interesting, but I'd like to see some uncertainty in their movement in order to ramp up the drama.

BIM
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To: polyobsessive, andymorris

"uncertainty in the movement," so like a separate movement deck for the natives/soldiers that show where each moves? And to maybe satisfy Andy's concerns, the NPC movement cards would show a section of the board moving the indicated directions instead of the whole board?

Any thoughts on that?

I REALLY appreciate the feed back. I don't get a lot of outlets for this sort of thing. :)

andymakespasta
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Pirate Jailbreak.

I love how the two pirates are chained together, and how player movement works. NPC movement is a little wonky, as it seems to me the only way to get caught is if the players are planning ahead for the other player to get caught. (Also, it would be awesome if you can clothesline enemies with the chain.)

The challenge for fleshing out this game is how to define the player goals, so they want to do different things, and be constantly pulling in different directions. So you want the pirates to be intrinsically want different types of loot.

But then, you want some harsh penalty such as sudden game over to force the pirates to sometimes work together to move forward, rather than just random NPCs wandering about. Maybe a "Warden" that slowly follows the pirates?

I see what you did with the villagers and the natives, making them walk along the edge, but I think letting players control the NPCs isn't a good idea.

The game needs work, but I really like the concept. I gave it a medal.

BIM
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To andymakespasta

andymakespasta wrote:
(Also, it would be awesome if you can clothesline enemies with the chain.)

Dude...Yes...

Thanks for the medal and the feedback!

polyobsessive
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NPC movement in Pirate Jailbreak

BIM wrote:
"uncertainty in the movement," so like a separate movement deck for the natives/soldiers that show where each moves? And to maybe satisfy Andy's concerns, the NPC movement cards would show a section of the board moving the indicated directions instead of the whole board?

I hadn't thought much on an actual solution, but yeah, an NPC deck could well do the job. Maybe flip a card that tells you one type of NPC to move each time? And/or directions? My thought was that it would make it so you couldn't just spend ages on planning because you can accurately predict where NPCs will be on any given turn. A certain amount of movement "on rails" would be good though as it would simulate patrol routes, etc.

Good luck unpicking all the possibilities! :)

andymorris
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NPCs

I agree it should be more random and a movement deck would be better. If you're only moving one or two at a time it would be much less fiddly. Also, what if the enemy tokens took up more than one grid space to represent their field of perception. After all, a soldier would see you before he caught you. I'm picturing a bunch a tetris looking pieces for enemies. I think you could also include an element of hiding where you have a chance to hide in between being noticed and being caught.

andymorris
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Thoughts on Mirrors

I gave this one bronze. I like that it is a little different and I enjoy the simple manipulation of numbers. I think it would give you interesting choices within a very simple framework. I think maybe you could do one or two more cards per round. Nice job.

killerkilroy
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A couple ideas

Re: Pirate Jailbreak.
I think there are some cool ideas here that could be worked into something that's a lot of fun. When I first read the description I missed the fact that there was only 1 character tile, and I pictured something that used two separate tokens connected by a physical "chain" (e.g., piece of string). I wonder if you could use that concept, and have each player only move their own piece, but within the limit of the "chain." Players would have to take turns moving 1st, otherwise one player could dominate movement, but I think it could be interesting.

Re: Mirrors.
I was a little confused about the Shatter tokens remaining in play. Does this mean each successive round starts with the net value of the previous tokens already in effect, or is it simply meant to prevent the tokens from returning to the available pool of tokens?

Re: Strategic Partnership
The more I look at this game, the more I like it. I don't think I gave it a vote, because I had a hard time visualizing the dial system as described, but I wish I had. I quite like the built-in count-down using the vitality token. It gives a sense of urgency, but gives them the option to extend the game-time at, I assume, the expense of other options. I can see games really building a sense of tension as players try to earn as much cash as they can while trying to keep the vitality token just one or two turns ahead.

Does the cash flow work similar to your "vitality" system, in that if the dial catches the token that represents $0? I did a mock-up ( HERE ) of what I pictured your dial system to look like, but I was not very clear based on the description how many concentric rings were actually supposed to be present (I drew 3, but that may not be correct).

I really like the idea of the dial with interchangeable/replaceable sections, but it seems impractical as I'm envisioning it right now. Maybe there's a way to make it so the actual mechanism runs behind the rings (see my diagram above for a better idea) so that you don't have to try to work around an arm.

polyobsessive
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Mirrors

I don't know about the long-term appeal of this game, or whether this would get "solved" quickly, but reading the rules had me grinning. I love the idea of using the draft as a method of telepathy and the use of the shatter tokens is a nice bit of icing on the cake. My suspicion is that revealing the cards as you go might make the game too easy, but I'd love to try this out. (I would also love to see this as a 3-player game, though that is out of scope for this showdown.)

This gets a medal off me just for the way it made my brain bounce around with ideas.

andymakespasta
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Mirrors

I like how the shatter tokens are "one time use", and how they can signal information. On the last draft of a round, players can do a back and forth with their shatter tokens to work out which card their friend picked. The game would be good for sharpening your memory, but not at all interesting for hardcore board game players, as the only true interesting choice would be the last card, for which both players should quite likely have an optimal choice, which would be complemented by shatter tokens if needed. So for hardcore bg players, optimal play is reachable, and after that it's just luck. Young and elderly players might find this game challenging, but the theme is artsy, and not story driven.

andymorris
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Thoughts on Up a Creek

I really like how the movement is setup. I think that fits the theme quite well. Great choice for two people working together. I think the game would benefit from a modular board. I feel it may be a bit too simplistic, so maybe there could be certain points you have to get to as well things to avoid? Also, there weren't any examples of the special actions. What kind of things were you thinking of?

Thanks for the thoughts on my game. I appreciate you trying to tackle visualizing it, but the link didn't work. Any chance you could try posting it again? Yes the cash is the same idea where the pointer equals zero, but you can put more cash in.

polyobsessive
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Up a Creek

I liked the look of this, but it narrowly missed out on a medal, I'm afraid.

It's not clear from the description whether players are allowed to communicate at all. If they are, the game might be a bit dull (and probably as well played solo), but if not this sounds like fun chaos, so I'll assume the latter.

angela876020
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Up a creek

I really liked this game concept. The only thing I had trouble envisioning is how long the board for the game itself it would be. But it seems like it would be an awesome cooperative game.

polyobsessive
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3..2..1.. Showtime

I'd like to know more about the contents of the decks, but this sounds awesome. Kinda like advanced Roshambo but where you are trying to coordinate with rather than beat the other player.

This game got a medal from me and I can't really elucidate why, other than it got me excited about the prospect of playing it. Like Mirrors, I expect the replay value to be a bit limited (certainly with the same partner), but it should be fun learning how to win the game.

andymakespasta
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Thanks for the vote. I've

Thanks for the vote.
I've been thinking about showtime, and I'm not so sure how the signal cards would work.

I know I want them to signal time (a number), and hint at different things, but my first idea of just putting in a bunch of symbols doesn't seem elegant enough, or thematic at all.

I'm considering either
making the cards Mysterium-like, where they have tons of information (and nice pictures).
~OR~
making the cards merely suggestive, showing an item each, with a number in the corner. Such a bag of cash, a mask, laser pointer, etc.
~OR~
putting short lines of awkward small-talk, with color-highlighted key words.

Also, I think the rules would be more fun if facial expressions were allowed.

andymorris
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Thoughts on Showtime

I wasn't sure what to think of this one at first. I think it would be pretty challenging. It's an interesting idea. I like the focus on nonverbal communication and trying to think like your partner. I actually think it'd be fun if there were teams racing each other. You could keep score over multiple rounds where you lose points for missing, gain points for matching with a bonus for matching first. It would go pretty fast, so having teams would give you more incentive to play more rounds.

andymakespasta
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andymorris wrote:I actually

andymorris wrote:
I actually think it'd be fun if there were teams racing each other. You could keep score over multiple rounds where you lose points for missing, gain points for matching with a bonus for matching first. It would go pretty fast, so having teams would give you more incentive to play more rounds.

That's... a great idea. Why didn't I think of that.
This opens so many possibilities.

killerkilroy
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Up a creek

@andymorris - I fixed the link (stupid formatting error, I forgot a " in the URL)

Thanks for all the comments. To answer a couple questions:

Regarding the board - I was considering a modular board. A couple ideas was to have a set of double-sided rectangular tiles that would be laid out randomly with the "dock" tile as the farthest down-stream, dock side down. As the players moved off a tile it would be flipped and added to the "downstream" side of the board. This would effectively halve the space required for the game. Also, a set of hexes could be used, allowing players to create a "river" that had twists and turns more easily.

Otherwise, since the deck size limits game length (18 cards, 18 moves) and players will be moving 1-3 spaces (probably average about 2+/turn over the game length) forward on most turns, I'd imagine a board with ~40 spaces would be required. This might make for a long board (or one that has fairly small spaces), or it could have curves and switchbacks to eat up some of the length.

Regarding communication - I realize I didn't mention it, but yes, player communication about cards in hand would be prohibited. I am unsure about whether communicating about direction would be allowed, but I think it would be fine, because there's still a chance that the cards played will negate any plans. Though not explicitly mentioned in the rules, I saw players leaving played cards in view for the whole game, giving players a better idea of what might be available to their partners as the game goes on (mirroring the growing communication of the imaginary paddlers in the boat).

Regarding special cards - The cards I had in mind were:
Backpaddle : Players move one less space downstream than indicated by their space (possible to move 0 spaces)
J-Stroke : Affects horizontal movement (not sure how exactly)
Communication(?): Next turn this player reveals the card they are playing before their partner chooses.

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