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I, Spy – My first design, now on Kickstarter

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chriswhite
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Joined: 07/10/2011

My esteemed colleagues,

It is with great excitement and anxiety, that I announce that the first project from my little start-up (which will also be my first 100% design) is now on Kickstarter.

I, Spy is a delightful romp of bluffing, misdirection and strategy, set in the early days of European espionage –– just prior to the first World War.

Link to the Kickstarter drive: I, Spy

Link to our company website: Lost Boys Productions

A few members of this community have tried I, Spy, and I took their response to be quite positive. (I'll leave it up to them if they want to post here about it! *gulp*....)

In addition to this announcement, I'm happy to use this thread to answer any questions about any aspect of the project or design or the (very) long road that has brought us here. (You can also PM me, as well.)

I would love to add I, Spy to the list of BGDF successes!

nswoll
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Joined: 07/23/2010
Whenever I've tried to design

Whenever I've tried to design similar games I encounter the same problem every time.
Either the penalty for other players guessing your secret identity is too low so players just make the best moves for their "country" and don't care if the other players figure it out. Or the penalty is too high leading to players playing almost randomly to avoid the other players guessing.

How have you solved this issue if I might ask?

chriswhite
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Joined: 07/10/2011
Attempted Answer

Hi, nswoll!
This is a complicated question. It's also difficult to address this topic without a great many specifics regarding this game or your designs, but I'll try my best ––

In I, Spy, the penalty for someone knowing your identity with 100% assurance is very high, and you will almost always be fighting an insurmountable uphill battle, unless it's very late in the game. However, they can't know with total certainty until the end of the game, and they are therefore taking an enormous risk if they 'go all in' against a certain Nation while playing a 2-player game. Of course, this possibility could occur, but probably only when very experienced players are playing against rookies, because being able to read someone's intentions goes hand-in-hand with being able to mask them.
You say –– "Or the penalty is too high leading to players playing almost randomly to avoid the other players guessing." I suppose this could happen for a short while in I, Spy, but it wouldn't be very effective, since at some point, anyone who wanted to win would have to make an effort to push their Nation to the front. But if you did so early enough to allow other players to respond, then they would likely exert their limited time and resources into devastating that nation–– but will be less capable of doing so to other nations. (In other words, being in 2nd place by the end of the game is a very powerful position.) Therefore, there's a very high incentive to fool your opponents about your allegiance, and your opponents will be very wary of committing too much. This might be hard to describe if you haven't played I, Spy, but the reality in this game is that it's fairly easy for an given player to severely hurt a given nation, but doing so will result in figuratively hemorrhaging points in all other directions, and helping the other nations, so you have to be pretty damn sure!

Another factor: One maxim of the design is that there is absolutely no action you can perform that serves only one function. For example –– Playing the "Smuggle" card generates resources for your person, and also gives 3 Influence points to France. So when someone uses this card, you can never truly be certain–– Does she really want money... or does she just want to give points to France? Even use of the Sabotage card (the mechanic which severely punishes a nation of your choice, and therefore is the incentive to keep your identity hidden) provides Influence points to Italy, so even this simple action can have a hidden motive. This makes it very hard (and dangerous) to have too strong a conviction about someone else's identity.

But also leads to an inevitable metagame element–– Everything you do in the game helps or hinders at least one Nation (and often more than one) and there is usually more than one way to accomplish any given thing. For example, the actions which allow you to move effectively are the Private Line (which helps Austria), the Overnight Line (which helps Germany) and the Courier Line (which helps Britain). Hold that thought.
Imagine that it's the middle of the game and all the countries are basically even in terms of Influence points. Now, let's say that on my turn, I travel to the German Empire and commit Sabotage, which causes Germany to lose a lot of Influence. Well, on your turn, if you want to move, no matter who you are, you have a huge incentive to use the Overnight Line card – because this way you get to move and it won't be such a big deal to give points to Germany, because they just lost a bunch. After all, if you chose the Private Line or Courier Line, you might be helping me.
So, even though the penalties for being discovered are very hash, there is a natural swing-back for any country that gets too far behind.

I hope that answers some of your question. I'm happy to elaborate about specific elements.

nswoll
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Joined: 07/23/2010
Thank you. This answers my

Thank you. This answers my questions very well and I'll probably end up backing it.
For me, the big deal is the action cards you described. Such a smart mechanic!

Redonesgofaster
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Joined: 11/14/2012
Great news!

I'm very happy to see this making it to kickstarter. My group tested it and had some mixed reviews but I was very happy to see that our opinions of the relative strength of the countries changed after virtually every game. Asymmetric play is a very attractive thing to me because it injects extra play-ability and often times you can give a new player a more straightforward option to lessen their learning curve.

chriswhite
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Joined: 07/10/2011
Video Review from UndeadViking

I just wanted to make a quick announcement that UndeadViking of BGG reviewing fame has just released a video review of I, Spy.

Although he bungles a bit of terminology, he gave a very positive report. You can catch is on the campaign page, or on youtube–– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Codhed8dnRE

@ nswoll –– Thank you very much for your support! If the campaign is a success and you're pleased with the game, feel free to hit me up for any discussion or explanation you're interested in.

@ Redonesgofaster –– Thanks for your words of encouragement! I hope we can get a copy to you. May I ask which group you were part of? (Feel free to decline! No biggie!) Or maybe you were part of the original "Clueless" playtesters? I only ask because the blind test-groups we did were unanimously positive.

nswoll
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Joined: 07/23/2010
That's good news about the

That's good news about the video. I was worried that the low level of marketing might keep the project from being funded. (I still am). But undeadviking is a popular reviewer so that will give the project a good push. Hopefully some GenCon buzz will help as well.

Redonesgofaster
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Joined: 11/14/2012
We were one of the later

We were one of the later groups. Don't feel offended that some of our players had mixed reviews several of our players are impossible to please.

nswoll
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Joined: 07/23/2010
Congratulations on reaching

Congratulations on reaching your Kickstarter goal!

chriswhite
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Joined: 07/10/2011
Thank you! Can't wait to get

Thank you! Can't wait to get it out to everyone.

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