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[GDS] NOVEMBER 2014 "Empires in autumn" Critiques

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richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009

Congratulations to the top placing entries. As usual, we have a schedule for feedback. When providing it, please focus on why you did/did not vote for an entry, the merits of the entry, and what you wanted to see more of.

Title Designer Points Critique Date
Geoengineering 101 firstcultural 11 Wed
19 Nov
Mystic Fog anthiasgames 9 Wed
19 Nov
Dynasty Ruy343 9 Thur
20 Nov
Avalanche Empires Telci 7 Thur
20 Nov
The Last Age of Kings boardgameben 6 Fri
21 Nov
Doomed Realm Level27Geek 6 Fri
21 Nov
ARC Garage
4 Sat
22 Nov
Autumn Falls Bubblechucks 4 Sat
22 Nov
A Hex on Both your Houses kindsight 2 Sun
23 Nov
The Emperor is Dead Tahrirfirma 2 Sun
23 Nov
Autumn Empires clwoodard 0 Mon
24 Nov

Joined: 07/03/2013

I'm a bit surprised that I'm the first commenter, but I'm hoping that others will help me out with their comments, so it's only fair that I comment.

Geoengineering 101 was a pretty solid-theme combined with a good concept for a game. It really was cool to see how your actions could have worldwide ramifications, and you could really hit your neighbor who was counting on a certain aspect by developing in a different direction. The only comment I have is that it's gonna be tricky to balance everything, and it might be a game with a steeper learning curve (not that's bad, mind you). But, it had a nice cutthroat element, and would give a feeling of desperation right up until you were eliminated, and it would ensure that a player that's ahead would likely lose regions faster, creating a great comeback mechanic. I believe that I gave this submission my silver.

I suggest that you make the territories of each nation have easily-understood icons that correlate with the sliders on the side of the board: make it easy for a person to see, at a glance, what it'll take to flood things. Size of the icon can help one to determine the risk level too. Aside from that, I can't think of much to add.

Mystic Fog struck me as a bit odd: The concept of losing terrain, consistent with the last submission, makes perfect sense as a way to represent losses. However, building a barrier to keep the fog out, while a fun mechanic, feels like it would take a long time to implement on a turn-by-turn basis (particularly monitoring fog growth). The other issue is that I could see it being very easy for one player to end up completely safe early on, and thereby guarantee victory while everyone else would dwindle down quickly. In fact, a potential strategy is to just encompass a small area and call it good: hedge your bets and not claim as much as you potentially could because you're counting on your opponents to overexpand and not be able to enclose their domain. this is somewhat mitigated by the requirement to control enough stone to build the walls, but I fear that this strategy, while obvious to more experienced players, will be rather punishing to newbies. The concept, though, is pretty cool.

Also, because the direction of fog growth is random, it could affect one player over others, making the game somewhat unfair. Perhaps reducing randomness by having a draw deck that determines movement (like you see in Forbidden Desert)?

Joined: 08/05/2014
Since here it is the 20th

Since here it is the 20th already I allow myself to comment on my two favorites which were Geongineering 101 (Gold) and Dynasty (Silver).

Both are games which I woukd definitely buy if they would play out as described. Mystic Fog als sounds interesting but personally did not resonate all that well even though it maybe comes closest to my own submission.. one reason could be that it is hard to understand how you would track the fog ..

Dynasty: This sounds really great! I like that probably every game plays out differently depending on which momarchs you get specifically in the early stages. One challenge in design would be to balance that the tyrant gives you a direction but not fully determines what you should do. So that I as the player have still some freedom of choice.

Geoengineering: pleas build this! Now! Otherwise I have to proxy it at home... I think the theme is really interesting and of general interest (marketing would be easy I think). It would be great if the factor determining when a specific region is lost vary with each game. (different sets of cards, maybe "easy" and "hard" mode..).
What I like is that even though the game allows for complex interactions ("That sun shield that saves one region from the heat might turn another into a frozen wasteland") it seems that the mechanic is simple enough (selecting only one program at the time) to make this a fun and engaging game even for non-regular gamers. If you can really make these interactions work and have enough ideas for geoengineering programs I think this could be great!
Now on the only downside.. it did not feel like a 4x game. But honestly I don't care because its so good ;-)

Joined: 09/11/2014
wow, did not expect to win!

wow, did not expect to win! Geoengineering 101 will definitely be developed to a finished game, probably coming out in early January.

My top votes were for Avalanche Empires and Mystic Fog. There's something intriguing about the idea of a shrinking game board - it gives the game a sense of urgency and also keeps it from getting tedious, as the pace of the game accelerates towards the end, with fewer decisions and options available.

Level27Geek's picture
Joined: 08/08/2014
How is it after midnight already? My critiques for 19th

Geoengineering 101 I simply adore the theme for this game. If it would depend on me I would even push the timeline of the game another 100 years (so making it 2114). This way the artist drawing the regions and programs can put more sci-fi elements (I am thinking - overpopulated japan with tons of neons, almost frozen nordic countries etc.). I would also want to see some flavor text for each fail state per region. Temp >20, water becomes so scares that most of population dies of thirst. Rainfall >15 The whole region becomes flooded, remains of humanity live on the rooftops of the skyscrapers. Things like that would add a lot to my experience and would generate good stories. I would also like to see some non geo-forming program cards. Like maybe spying to look into central deck, or war that shuffles the central deck. I think it would be interesting to see those to add some variety.

Overall, very strong design, and, if I remember correctly, it got my GOLD (or at least silver).

Mystic Fog
I really like the theme, but the mechanics are not my cup of tea. I like my games more random and more ameritrashy. Beause of that, I haven't voted for it.

Joined: 11/07/2014
Sorry, I am a little late to

Sorry, I am a little late to the party! I honestly forget how I voted now, it has been a hectic month here so far. They were all so good, it was hard to choose. I was blown away to see such a positive result for Mystic Fog, and huge thanks for all the comments, which help me see its potential weaknesses.

Geoengineering -
great concept. I love the sense that you are setting things in motion you may not be able to control. I'd like to see some programs really interacting, so my work might sabotage yours etc, to make some player conflicts interesting.

Dynasty -
I loved the idea that you are working behind the scenes. There is some potential for this to work well as short term leaders ruin your long term plans. This could work well blended with the concepts in Geoengineering!

Avalanche Empires -
Love the shrinking gameboard - of course! But incorporating a strong mechanism around risk management, and gambling with the lives of your people because of the danger zones make this game's good potential.

Joined: 11/12/2012

So, I misunderstood the critique schedule and thought I was just supposed to post tomorrow. Glad I looked on here! Here were my thoughts for the first batch. (Fittingly, My top 3 were among the top 4 winners)

Gold: Dynasty
I really liked the idea of having a different leader to answer to each turn. I realize there are games that do this sort of thing already, with turn-by-turn objectives, but it fit the "empire" theme really well for me.

Silver/Bronze (I honestly forget which I did for which now, but liked both)
Avalanche Empires
Unique twist on the fallen empire theme, and again, loved the main mechanic. Felt a little like Pompeii, but on a civilization scale, with surviving cities rather than fleeing people.
Geoengineering 101
I can totally see why this one won. Playtesting is going to be hell with all the different factors in play, but playtesting is always complex, so go for it, I say! I would look at Tomorrow by Conquistador Games for inspiration/to avoid overlap, but the Butterfly Effect possibility in this game is really enticing.

Honorable Mentions
Mystic Fog
It came between this and Avalanche Empires for me, with the similar encroaching doom mechanics. This one felt like it might get a little more fiddly, with the more complex Civ game on top of it, versus AE which felt a little more streamlined to me. This was arguably my #4, though.

Joined: 11/12/2012
Aaaand Friday!

Doomed Realm
Interesting idea, especially playing your dice to either your card to activate them or your opponent's cards as an "attack".

I think I'm just diced out, though, and there wasn't a strong enough secondary mechanic to make me vote for it (to be fair, the same could probably be argued for my inverse deckbuilder design). That said, I think it's still a solid design. You'd definitely need to make sure that cards are being pared down effectively, so the endgame doesn't drag out with people stealing cards back and forth, but there's definitely a game here with a good use of dice.

Joined: 08/05/2014
The last age of Kings: This

The last age of Kings:
This should have won since it cites Tolkien ;-)
I like the idea of a deck-deconstructor! When playing deck-building games I often like the part of "thinning" your deck. But the question is whether deck building needs growing of a deck to be fun.. it definitely fits the theme since you have to think about which resoources of your falling kingdom you want to use... it also could be a problem for new players since they might be overwhelmed by all the pieces in their deck. And basically you have to know from the beginning what your tactic should be...

Maybe focus on the deconstruction mechanic and think about how and whether this can work. If it does, this could be very interesting!

Doomed Realm:
I liked the setting a lot! Especially that theywant to civilize you :-) I only found the description of the mechanic a bit loaded.

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