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[GDS] MARCH 2016 "Super Vote-a-tron 2016" - Critiques

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mindspike
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We have a winner!

Mine

by billarama

Quite a challenge, but our designers stepped outside the ballot box to meet it! Thank you to everyone who submitted games and took the time to read them!

Game Designer Total Pts Discussion
Mine billarama 9 March 17
Grass is Greener jbship628 7 March 18
Little Gods Corsaire 6 March 19
Kingmaker Arthur Wohlwill 6 March 20
It's All About Trust Opinioso 5 March 21
Viking Race PhoenixBC 3 March 22
Corsaire
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3-17 - Mine - Review

Hi,

I look at a challenge first in terms of how well an entry meets the spirit and constraints of the challenge. Then how successfully the game concept is communicated. Finally, whether I think the game is worth developing. I try not to have my interests as a gamer interfere with my perspective as a designer.

Mine - Congratulations... I liked the game concept a lot as is. I think the theme and mechanics gel. I'm not certain that voting and contracts would be the number one mechanic in play; I usually find trading takes over a game or is irrelevant.

The description was very clear and well balanced between details and concepts.

I have some concerns about the voting and rewards for the highest voter. It sounds like influence cards are a common draw deck, which means attribution wouldn't be clear for "is a reward (or penalty) to the highest vote-giver."

Secret voting probably needs some hidden player agendas to prevent analysis paralysis (without them, a player may believe they have a solvable problem set and thus over-analyze or suffer "buyer's remorse".)

I believe that's all solvable and likely worth solving in development. The biggest catch is that tuning and testing contracts would be a huge effort.

As an aside, for anyone wanting to pimp their submissions, I found this site that lets you try out markdown and see what it looks like to be a lot of fun:
http://markdownlivepreview.com/

Corsaire
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3/18 - Grass is Greener - Review

Presuming I read the rules for the showdown correctly, and that everyone who participates should be submitting feedback for the game indicated for that date (evidence to the contrary)... here is my review for Grass is Greener...

I like some of the witty aspects, and the mechanics fit the challenge. I think some of the description was not clear enough around items like using the timers.

There is a key problem in that it looks to be trying to be two types of games at the same time. I'm not sure they are compatible at the level presented. Basically mid-game fighting/voting/pitching is trumped by end game social voting. I think this would lead to frustrated players.

Separated out, the idea of selecting roles and having 40 hours to allocated them to is pretty cool. Voting for the role you want could work. Hashing out the rest isn't bad, but you quickly back into dog pile on leader and king-making for a regular game.

To maximize the game as presented, I would emphasize the design around creating these outrageous character situations and then allow for secret bet tokens; so a person can score from their builds or from backing/helping build the top pick. Somewhere in there you can get to a game where the process of selecting traits is focused on comic effect for all.

billarama
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Thanks!

Thanks for the thoughtful comments on Mine. Many of the points you raise were concerns of mine as well, so that's reassuring. The "analysis paralysis" suggestion was very helpful. I appreciate your comments and would welcome any more from other reviewers.

billarama
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Grass is Greener

This was my #2 vote.

When I first read this game, I had two concerns. First, I wasn't sure if it fit the spirit of the contest, which I took to have a theme integrated into a voting mechanic -- in particular, that the players play the roles of voting agents within the theme. But I can't complain that you interpreted it differently.

My other concern was that this was just another spin on "Cards Against Humanity." But then I saw it as more of a storytelling game and it started to sound very interesting. You get the crazy party game feel, but there is an evolution of the story from round to round as well. That could set it apart from other party games. It's going to depend a lot on the cards and the crowd, of course, but this could be a lot of fun.

billarama
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Little Gods

This was my #1 vote by a wide margin.

The theme is terrific and there could be a lot of interesting dynamics with the cards. I like the thematic idea of voting to configure a global religion.

The voting process seemed clear enough, but the rules get fuzzy on exactly how the actions work, so it's difficult to critique the details. In particular, the "converting meeples" action seems very important and I'd want to know how that works. Presumably the special abilities will play off of the various affinities to make this more than a combinatorial exercise, so the trick here is getting the balance right. I worry about a "rich get richer" problem, too. There are a lot of things to sort out, but overall I think think this an innovative theme and the core mechanics have captured my interest. I'd want to play this.

Corsaire
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Thanks

Thank you, billarama,
I appreciate the great feedback and positive response. My first pass at this ended up being a tight set of rules. That got a functional thumbs down from my wife, in rewriting to clarify the game feel in under 500 I lost some of the detail.

The conversions concept is that in the middle with the common gods, there are neutral meeples that can be converted to player meeples. I have the meeple range from six to twelve max. I'm seeing the meeples as more of an income than action placement, which should allow me to balance costs out so, that maybe converting costs three active meeples to do.

With the player board card slots, I'm seeing viable strategies in having one facedown god and four face up, or even five facedown. I want the victory point bonus to facedown gods to be strong enough that it is an interesting decision whether to use their power. Also, this may mask the rich get richer by hiding the victory point status.

I need to give some thought to affinities enabling powers, as that is an angle I hadn't quite designed for, but could make it really interesting.

Oddly this is a theme I've wanted to get get my teeth into for a while. But I'd been focusd on the idea of religions as a survival of the fittest set of memes. Sometime in the last year, I read a fantasy novel with gods in a medieval setting that had narrow interests and very small numbers of followers. This challenge made the dots connect in my head.

This is going to be a slow side project of building out the gods and trying to balance everything. If this tests out to play fast I may be able to go looser with balance.

billarama
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Kingmaker / It's All About Trust

Catching up...

These two games did not get my vote, although after my top 2 things get a little murky.

Kingmaker:

I don't see the connection between the theme and the voting mechanics,but they are interesting. I like rewarding different kinds of wins in a multi-candidate vote. I did have trouble understanding the game play, though. The candidates differ in their scoring, but then the scoring seems to be just 5-3-1. I wasn't clear on why a player would vote for any candidate in particular. The role of districts was also muddy to me. I think there is a kernel of an interesting idea here worth developing, but as is I couldn't vote for it.

It's All About Trust:

This game is mostly about players valuating things correctly so it should balance itself. I don't have a sense of how the rotation of players standing for election will play out -- in particular, I worry that opportunities to run could overshadow the auction/reward system. But the corruption rule in the scoring is cute.

When it came down to voting, this one lost my #3 vote because even my little concerns above aside, I just wasn't excited about playing it.

PhoenixBC
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All games

Sorry I couldnt space these out as per the schedule but here are my thoughts on each game:

Little Gods
I like the overall theme, but the mechanics seemed confusing. This could be a function of just needing to play it once to clear up but I didn’t vote for it this time because I felt there were too many mechanics in operation between new gods, old gods, powers, affinities, neutral tribes, etc. I think if the author had more than 500 words to work with this could be a pretty entertaining game though.

Kingmaker
I really liked this game. I didn’t give it top marks solely because it was an American election themed game, albeit with a spin. I enjoyed the themes that took the election idea and brought it to another level outside of US elections. Plus that was one of the criteria. I think if they had just stuck with Xenia and left out the word ‘Ohio’, it would have even been enough to consider then, but still wouldn’t have received my top vote as it’s too close to actual elections.

Grass is Greener
This received a vote from me. I thought it has some great potential for humorous cards and high replayability potential a la cards against humanity.

Mine
This one was my favorite. I really like resource games and have been bouncing a similar idea in my head around for a while. I think the author did a great job using contracts, trade, and building in a unified manner and I liked the way they used the voting mechanic.

Viking Race
This one was mine and was a last minute addition. I sent a copy to my brother and he had some great feedback for me (alas, that he emailed back too late), including that the second phase pretty much involves no choice, and is essentially just acting out the results of the first phase. He gave me some tips for altering it a little bit but I was not surprised by the last place finish 

Its All About Trust
Again, I didn’t like that this was an actual election for an actual Parliament (better than the word Congress which would have been TOO American though!). However, I do like the social aspect of the game with rewards and supporters, etc. It could get interesting quickly!

Nice work all around!

billarama
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Viking Race

Very fun game theme, and an interesting use of the contest restriction. The mechanics seem straightforward. I think its success is going to depend on how interesting the cards are.

Phase 2 was my biggest concern, as it sounds like a long exercise in calculating who won Phase 1. From Phoenix's comments, it sounds like this problem has been discovered. The idea of watching a race play out could be fun, if not very stimulating, but it has to be done well. If there is some actual game play where the racers use their boats to maneuver and race, this could be something.

I voted this #3 with some optimism, but as I mentioned earlier, the differences among my #3-#6 picks were pretty marginal.

Corsaire
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Viking Race - Review

I didn't see any vote mechanism in this and couldn't vote for it. What cards were being drawn and discarded at the start?

I couldn't make clear sense of the game in the draw and buy or draw and bid mechanic. There are so many ways for that to turn unfun and/or grindy: getting what you want early, running out of money, etc.

Arthur Wohlwill
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Kingmaker

Thanks for the feedback. This game grew out of a game idea I had in which players had to pick sides in a number of contests (military, business and politics). 5-3-1 is the base, but some candidates will modify this.

Arthur Wohlwill
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Thanks for the feedback. I

Thanks for the feedback. I had interpreted the rules as that the game was not intended to reflect actual elections. Xenia, Ohio is a fictional creation of Sinclair Lewis (Babbit). It seemed appropriate. I am glad you liked the game.

Opinioso
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My remarks

Sorry for taking so long, I was traveling for work.

Thank you for the feedback, I really appreciate it! I have only one point to clarify about my pitch: the idea of my game isn't an election for Parliament, but for president IN Parliament, a indirect election (quite different from the process here in the U.S.). It was an idea that I had after I discovered that a professor of mine ran for president in the Czech Republic, and the election was indirect by then.

So, to the feedbacks:

Mine
It was my #1 vote, for sure. I liked very much the idea of mixing economy and political power, and it really did it - with a twist of the space theme. I enjoyed it, and I guess that some polish could make the rules quite understandable.

Kingmaker
If my memory doesn't fail me, I went for this as #2 vote basically because of the theme, the idea of being the "mastermind" behind the election. I find it really funny, but I've got confused by the rules (and that's why I went with Mine)

Little Gods
I'm crazy about theme. It's the first thing I look at a game, and political power in ancient times was basically religious power. But the lack of details on the rules and how the cards would work (I understand, it a very restricted pitch) made me go with this onle as #3 vote.

Viking Race and Grass is Greener
It really seemed to me that both were kind of out the spectrum of the rules for mechanics and theme (the second more than the first). Nothing against the viking theme, and the idea of creating a crew and then pillaging seems amazing, but I understood that it was a long shot to be understood as "gaining power in a political system".

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