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[GDS] JULY 2016 "Time's Up" - Critiques

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mindspike
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We have a winner!

Courier Now

by A Round Tuit

Only a few entries this round. Summer is getting the better of us! Timers are difficult to use creatively, so let's see what everyone came up with, shall we?

10pts (July 18) - Courier Now by A Round Tuit
9 pts (July 19) - Timestream Thieves by andymakespasta
7 pts (July 20) - Block Party by mindspike
4 pts (July 21) - Countdown to Collision by cousinted

cousinted
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critique of Courier Now

Thanks for letting me participate. It's my first contest!
I gave this game 2 points, because it felt well thought out, though why did you list the components? I liked the tension of the timers and the chance that players will miss their timer ending and play inefficiently. It was a nice way to split player attention. However I didn't think it was particularly creative in how it was using the timer beyond that since it is still a standard timer and still measuring the length of my turn. Even though my entry didn't do much beyond that either, haha!

Thematically I did not care for the game, because it felt a bit too much like Crazy Taxi, but focusing on efficiency over frantic dexterity. Maybe that's just because I'm reading a description instead of playing it?

Overall, nice work for a deserved win!

mindspike
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Courier Now

I liked the idea of a board game version of "Crazy Taxi".

(+) The basic idea is well thought out and the underlying mechanism is good in principle. The idea of moving cabs around the city in real time is appealing and I think could lead to some very chaotic tables.

(-) The focus of the game as written seems to be on moving strategically around the board. This doesn't seem to mesh well with real-time movement tied to an artificial time limit.

(=) I'd like to see the following changes.

*Less focus on planning the route and more focus on managing the timers. Difficulty comes not from "how do I get there" but from managing multiple cabs at once with a limited number of cab stops on the board.

*Each cab IS it's own timer, and can only be moved when the timer is stopped. The timer must be flipped after each move.

*Clients pay more for more stops. eg stop 1-$1, stop 2=$3, etc. Taxis can cash out at any point in the route.

*One cab per location on the board. This means that if your stop has a taxi in front of it, you have to wait for someone else's cab as well as yours.

*Players start with three taxis.

Great idea. Good potential. This could be very chaotic and amusing.

mindspike
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Timestream Thieves

I do like the idea of pillaging history and the challenges presented in moving around the board.

(+) The chicken aspect of the game and the inexact way that players move around the board are both intriguing. This challenge uses a stopwatch instead of a sand timer, and that opens up some interesting possibilities.

(-) A stopwatch is a very predictable device. Players who are good at timing their actions will have a decisive advantage.

(=) The real tension in the game comes from playing chicken with other players, trying to get to an artifact first. I think the game should be played simultaneously rather than in turns. This way, everyone jumps at the same time and every round you are trying to catch your opponents while still controlling your own jump. The board design will need to facilitate control of an era to make this happen. Alternately, game play might be by a single card flip, with players trying to hit a value on their timer. This would keep the players competitive with each other instead of splitting up around a board.

Fascinating idea with some very interesting possibilities.

andymakespasta
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I really like the concept of

I really like the concept of time management and escalating difficulty, but I imagine Courier Now to be a mess if played using sand timers on a tabletop.
Play starts out tame, but as taxis start increasing, players are reaching all over the board, and probably fighting physically to move their taxis and restart the timers. Miniature plastic taxis with a timed spring on them, where you can just push down hard and wait for it to pop would help alleviate this, but make the game pretty expensive.
The game sound pretty exciting, but I forsee problems physically playing it.

As for timestream thieves, the comments by mindspike really hit the problem head on: players have to start their timers at the same time.
I think it would work best for all the players to "jump" at the same time
, but do their actions in the order they are in time when they stop. In other words, a timetravel phase and a "do your stuff" phase So getting out after your opponent would place you earlier in time, and let you move first, but if you enter the next era, you would have to take an age penalty.

Block party definitely needs something to prevent a player from finishing the game in one or two 'turns'. Maybe more colors with fewer blocks, or some rule on which blocks you can take (otherwise who is going to use a round block). Also, stacking while being timed is going to be either great fun or incredibly frustrating, depending on how dexterous you are.

mindspike
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Block Party

This one is mine, based around a game played with my Cub Scouts.

(+) The concept is simple, it promotes dexterity development, and the pieces to make it are readily available. Controlling the type and number of pieces makes scaling difficulty very simple.

(-) There's a definite age limit on this. Older players will find it far less challenging than younger ones. There's very few strategic choices. The presence of a moderator is virtually required, especially for young players.

(=) Making the required structure taller will increase the challenge for older players, as will controlling the blocks to favor more difficult shapes. Adding a "master" timer for the game and judging based on tallest completed structure would increase the tension. I still see very few strategic options, the structure of the game just isn't robust enough.

mindspike
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Countdown to Collision

This could be an intriguing social debate game.

(+) I like the idea of creating problems and then using your hand of resources to solve issues. The "we're all doomed" aspect adds a unique flavor to the game as players try to pass the buck.

(-) The use of a timer as a way to randomize the length of the game does not use the component in a way essential to the game.

(=) This could be a really fun storytelling game, as players come up with wackier and wackier excuses for why the resources in their hand actually solved the problem presented them, and the *real* problem was someone else's fault.....

cousinted
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Timestream critique

This was my top choice. I liked that the use of the timer was in the uncertainty in the exact stopping moment. This is a great use combining dexterity with the timing - and the push your luck when watching other players' behavior.

For this I gave it top marks for creatively using the timers. The theme I also think is solid, and nicely tied in with the mechanic rather than just window dressing.

Well done!

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