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[GDS] May 2011 "Royal Wedding" - Critiques

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sedjtroll
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Use this thread to post constructive critiques of the entries to the May 2011 Challenge in the Game Design Showdown series.

This month's Challenge was entitled ["Royal Wedding"](http://www.bgdf.com/node/4771).

-Seth

richdurham
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Brief comments

Congrats to Ron for winning this month!

While reading the entires I had some quick initial comments that I'm posting here. If you'd specifically like a more in-depth commentary on what I personally liked about a game, let me know and I'll write a bigger one. Here goes:

Royal Divorce - 1 Wait, does it already exist? Since this game is mechanically very simple, I'd like more of an idea of the "special powers" that they Ploy cards have to get an idea of how the interactions will occur. Otherwise the theme alone or basic mechanic doesn't draw me as much as it could.

Blood lines - 1 I love role selection games, but with the role descriptions alone I don't think we get a full view of what this game could be. For instance, with just the roles it seems that using the Battalion General will build up your armies (by taking another player's) very quickly and result in a run-away effect. Also, is the goal for points by "generation" simply to produce tons of offspring and marry them off so that they can't be stolen? Do they do anything else?

Royal Ushers - 0 Lots of games here to seat people at a wedding. It seems like a game like endeavor in its own right, doesn't it? For this game, if I'm laying things down next to each other, I'd much rather be laying down tiles than cards. Although I like that the placement rules are simple, but was a bit confused by something: Each player has 5 waiting areas by themselves, or there are 5 total that are available to all the players at once? The wording implies that EACH PLAYER has 5 waiting areas (rows of 6)…so that's 30 cards a piece to place but only 54 cards? I'm sure you've playtested already, but that seems like a lot of unused rows if you only score when you fill one. Also, if scoring is done only when a row is filled, why note that "empty rows are scored with zero?" I thought they were only scored when they filled?

Royal Wedding - 2 I like this game, and the spending of dice each turn. My only hope is that the actual playing of this game doesn't slow down due to Analysis Paralysis since you can't make many choices until after you've rolled your dice. Perhaps if each player had their own set? Also, I feel this game fits the gamey-nature of the folks here at BGDF, and will most likely win this month!

Please be Seated - 2 Wasn't entirely compelling for me, but I liked the trade-off of wanting play lots of low cards to get more tokens in a row, vs. closing off a row fast by playing high value cards. With so many cards that equal 10 or near it, I wonder if the deck wouldn't better be made with more disparate values, like "1,3,7, and 10?"

loonoly
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Congrats to the winner!

Congrats to Ron. :)

Royal wedding was one of my picks. I really liked Hubert's Royal Wedding and Royal Divorce as well.

Royal Wedding's use of both cards and dice to influence the order of the suitors seems to be well thought out. Weirdly, the game feels more like some sort of racing game to me, though.

Hubert's was interesting because of the way tiles could influence the points scored. Plus, I'm a sucker for non-square tiles (hex tiles in particular) in a game.

With Royal Divorce, I like the playing of ploy cards to assets in an attempt to win them. It reminds me a lot of of Battle Lines (which is a great game) in that respect.

richdurham wrote:

Please be Seated - 2
Wasn't entirely compelling for me, but I liked the trade-off of wanting play lots of low cards to get more tokens in a row, vs. closing off a row fast by playing high value cards. With so many cards that equal 10 or near it, I wonder if the deck wouldn't better be made with more disparate values, like "1,3,7, and 10?"

This was my game and I'm surprised it did as well as it did (Considering the more thematically oriented designs everyone else submitted). I wanted something that could be played without much in the way of work on the part of the forum readers so I chose to use a standard deck of cards. Perhaps I should have described it in more thematic terms. Would that have made it more compelling? I think you are right and a different mix of card values would make the game more interesting. Should I ever have interest in developing it forward, I'll keep that in mind.

rcjames14
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Thoughts on the Entries

A majority of my votes went to Please Be Seated. Although I was concerned about the degree to which luck of the draw might influence the outcome of the game, it seemed to be the most deep and elegant of the all the games. As loonoly mentions at the bottom of the design, it is easy to imagine the deck being custom designed, perhaps with a few special abilities as well, to solve the luck of the draw issue and make it a publishable game. But, the strength of the game is that there is an interesting resource allocation problem complicated by two rounds of scoring. So, you could go for quick points at the beginning only to fall behind in the end. I thought it was a well thought out game.

I gave a single vote to Hubert's Royal Wedding because I like tile laying games and I felt that there would be some complexity to how the game develops. But, I was slightly concerned about a clearly optimal strategy being discovered fairly quickly, thus making it a game of luck of the draw. But I thought with one more cross cutting property to the tiles the game could overcome that.

I cast one vote for Bloodlines as well. It was very clearly not fully developed, but it looked like it was getting somewhere interesting. The design cuts off almost as if you were writing a term paper an hour before it's due. But I thought the idea was interesting, so I gave it a vote on promise. Plus, right now role selection just seems to be fascinating to me.

Brad and I worked on royal divorce and crafted the intro before we wrote anything else. In fact, you could say that the game was designed to the intro. I thought that asset division would be a very robust mechanism and irony is a little more marketable than seriousness, so this was a game created for its concept. We talked about a number of different designs (and created diagrams), but as the deadline loomed, we put forward a game that was a little similar to one of my other games.

Ultimately, the game rests upon the special abilities of the ploy cards as well as the qualities of the asset cards. However, we hit the 880 word count before we could list the spoiler lists, so that stuff was left to the reader to infer in favor of the flavor text. You can imagine cards like: draw another ploy, move one ploy to another asset, play one more ploy immediately, your ploys count double on this asset, add one to all your ploys, discard another ploy card. You know... Typical tabletop card zone manipulation abilities.

However, that stuff was not stated explicitly... so I did second guess my decision not to include it. But, the game was about the theme, so it got submitted as a flavor first, explicit game mechanics second. I just hope that people got a good chuckle out of the idea.

bhazzard
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Last Minute

Ah yes, you picked up on my last minute entry. I think there are some interesting but under developed ideas in the concept thought, so I started a separate thread to discuss some of the possibilities and problems I encountered here: http://www.bgdf.com/node/4848.

rvkrause
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Initial review

All,

I enjoyed reading through each game and glad that we had several submissions. Thank you for the votes, after reading the others I did not think I would come as close as I did. I truly appreciate being able to take part in these designs and get to the forums when I can. I am constantly amazed at how creative the members are here. Below are a few of my thoughts on the games.

1.  Hubert's Royal Wedding:  This game seemed light hearted and fun.  It was my second selection out of all the games.  I enjoy the aspect of bidding and especially blind bids.   I also like the thought of special qualities for the family members I believe this makes the game more challenging.  While I read through the rules I became a bit confused with what might be the best way to bid and how to best use the blind bid.  I was not sure I understood the "families" and if it was a random shuffle how a player ensures the have the ability to score best.  I believe some imagery and a walk through would help flesh out concerns and clarify any unknowns.  

2.  Royal Divorce:  Out of all the games this session I was taken by this one.  Maybe it is my  twisted humor, but I really thought that with a bit more on the ploy cards this would be a lot of fun.  This reminds me of a simple purchase/bid game with a wicked twist.  I would enjoy seeing how the ploy cards would adjust game play.  Without a unique twist in the ploy cards it might be hard to draw in and keep repeat players.

3.  Blood Lines:  This game seems interesting but I did not feel the theme fit as well as the others.  There is a lot of potential but just not enough detail to grasp the depth of game play or mechanics.  

4.  Royal Ushers:  With this months theme I was surprised to find such similar enjoyable concepts.  I had fun reading and comparing the different seating arrangement games.  I feel that I might enjoy this game, though without play testing I was not quite sure how well the scoring or my grasp of it plays out.  The diversity of the guests seem to make this more like a rummy game, which I enjoy playing.  O e of the drawbacks for me was the rules were a bit hard to read through at times.  

5.  Royal Wedding:  Due to travel and work schedule it was hard for me to clarify and clean this up the way I would have liked to.  Talk about a topic that is no where near the areas I normally design in.  The game that came to mind as I was working on this one was one that my family and friends enjoyed several years ago, Guillotine by Paul Peterson.

6.  Please Be Seated:  I liked the fact that this game came with directions on how to easily play test it.  The need to make the best decisions on taking over rows before the each jack comes out provides the timing crunch that can be fun; however, a straight bidding game like this does not draw me back into play again and again.  I feel that with more time and theme design could make this more enjoyable and a higher replay value.  The mechanics, from what little I had a chance to test, seemed a solid start to this game.

Cheers,
Ron

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