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Rip Apart My Game - Abstract Strategy Board Game

15 replies [Last post]
Joined: 07/29/2008

I am submitting a board game for playtesting. It is a 2-player game. Materials that can be used for playtesting is a gameboard drawn on graph paper and two different types of coins in sufficient quantity. The object of the game is pattern recognition - To create a sequence of four of your pieces before your opponent does.

There should be enough illustrations, examples and explanations in the submitted PDF file to make the game fairly clear. However, I am always humbled by the blind playtesting process and would be delighted to be proven wrong. As always, constructive criticism isn't just highly appreciated, it is highly sought after as well. I thank you for reviewing my game.


* The title is tentative - I needed to name the game something and this was "good enough." If the game doesn't crash and burn, I'll put the time and effort into naming it something wonderful.

* Yes, the board game illustration is not perfectly straight. Dammit, Jim, I'm a game designer, not an artist.

* v1.02 rules - Now with gameplay example, no more "hypotenuse" & a few other very minor revisions that I can't quite remember off-hand.

* NEW v1.8 rules - New name, new board game illustration, integrated illustrations with rules, added a notation system & a lot of other minor revisions too numerous to mention here.

Again, thank you for reviewing and providing comments on my game.

Joined: 12/02/2012
I like it! This game sounds

I like it! This game sounds great. I really want to play it now. Just a few notes on the instructions, and I apologize if they have already been addressed or if I missed something that really is there:

I don't see anything specific on how to win. It would be nice to have a clear cut "You need to create 1 sequence to win" line at the top. It says at the top that the goal is to create "a series", but when I first read it I didn't initially realize this meant just 1 series and then you're done. I thought you had to create 3 or 4 to win. Or do you play until all the spots are filled?

Are you suppose to create a series that forms a pattern? Illustration 2's victory conditions all have patterns, I think. For instance, the diagonal one goes 1-space-1-space-1-space-1, while the vertical one goes 1-space-11-space-1. Does the horizontal one follow a pattern? it looks like it would if it continues. Anyways, I couldn't tell from the instructions if you needed to do this in order to have a viable winning condition, or if it didn't matter.

Just those two things I noticed. Again, sorry if I just happened to miss them.

Joined: 07/29/2008
Thank you for your feedback

Thank you for your feedback. The instructions have been modified to address your concerns.

1). "...a series..." was replaced with " line..." as the meaning was not clear enough. Is it clear now?

2). I'm not certain how to make Illustration #2 clearer. The explanation was slightly changed in the notes for that illustration &, hopefully, the modification to the object of the game explanation might make the Illustration #2 clearer by context. I'll wait for more input before I make more extensive modifications.

Again, thank you for your feedback and if you have further feedback, please let me know.

Joined: 01/30/2013
Nicely Done!

At first glance, I really like it a lot. I might have to whip up a playmat and test it out!

One thing that struck me was that, because the game is as abstract as it is, having a short section that shows how a simple game might go (the first few turns, maybe) to showcase the different kinds of legal moves might be useful. In particular, some of the terms are bit mathematical, and it might help illustrate concepts for those that don't know (or remember!) what a hypotenuse is.

Good luck with it - I'll give it a shot and let you know when I've tested it out!

Joined: 11/13/2012
I don't understand what i'm

I don't understand what i'm trying to do in this game very much. Maybe i just misread the rules. Cna you give us a play by play?

Never mind waht i said. After reading the rules i realized that his is not at all similar to what i was cooking up.. it's more like advanced checkers. I really like it, might have to pull it out and give it the ol' college try.

The game i was coming up with reminded me more of a bomberman-game played on this kind of grid too. It's exciting to see some of us working on new classic style games.

Joined: 06/07/2012
Okay, Ready to Rip :) You

Okay, Ready to Rip :)

You lost me at hello - trivia bonus points for spotting the paraphrased film quote.

Well not quite, but my interest in reading further started to wane when you mentioned hypotenuse - eek, I've wandered into a maths lesson. A brief flash of a funny hippo and I summoned the will to read further.

Large triangles, small triangles, intersections, between intersections - ekk, I've wandered into a flatpack IKEA shelving escapade.

And then the will to read further evaporated. Only the reflex action of my scrolling mouse finger took me to the end of the rules.

And while zipping through I noticed illustration 1 - which made everything clear ( I think ).

Okay, jokey rip apart over. The rules need to be a lot simpler and clearer. I think the problem is the game board depiction. It dosent lend itself to visual clarity and easy reference points.

It would be much simpler if the rules said, any token on a grey dot is on a "between intersection" and any token on a yellow dot is on an "intersection. And even clearer if the rules simply mention grey and yellow dots and did away with intersections altogether.

To do this you would need a new diagram for the game board, so I threw one together for ya. Hope it helps.

If you want the file - I doodled it in MS Paint (with full pixel dot glory) - drop me a PM and I'll email it over.

KrisW's picture
Joined: 01/15/2013
Marketing Idea

Hi there,
I like your game. While trying it out I was reminded of the various wooden pub games with pegs or marbles as pieces. You might do well approaching companies that make finely crafted wood game boards.

- KrisW

Joined: 06/07/2012
Nods in agreement Has all the

Nods in agreement

Has all the makings of a sweet little game - simple rules, but with lots of tactical depth.

Oops, I forgot the four corner grey dots. Easy fix, if needed.

Mindware have a fairly open submission policy and Gigamic will be accepting submissions after February

Both of them publish abstract games in wood.

Joined: 07/29/2008
Thank You For Your Feedback So Far

Hi, and I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback so far. v1.02 of the rules is at the top post.

@ BadStrategist & BubbleChucks -

It's clear - "Hypotenuse" is good for mathematics, bad for game instructions. Gone.

@ BubbleChucks -

Thank you for your illustration. Unfortunately, I was not able to use it for v1.02 (which was mostly done by the time I read this latest series of responses). And it's "Jerry McGuire," if I'm not mistaken.

@ Everyone Else -

Simpler rules... Got it. The next revision of the rules will most likely be a complete rewrite. The gist is that the rules were initially confusing but most people "figured it out" (the "between intersections" part must be clarified, for instance). Nevertheless, rules can always be made clearer and that's the goal - For practically everyone to understand the rules on the first read-through.

Perhaps my question to everyone so far is... How does the game actually play? Are there any "killer strategies" that I might have missed that makes the game unbalanced? Does the first or second-player truly have an unfair advantage? Is the game too short? Too long? Did you find that you missed opportunities to win the game while you played? How many turns were there before someone won? Did you find a better starting position that is fairer than the one provided? Is the "alternative board layout" better then original one?

Again, I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback so far. Your feedback has been most gratifying and I look forward to making more positive revisions to the instructions. Thank you.

Joined: 01/30/2013
I tried a couple of games

I tried a couple of games today (solo, unfortunately, so you only hear my own thoughts):

- Feels a bit like chess in that a player who knows what they are doing will slaughter a newbie. There is a LOT to look for on the board as the game develops, and I could see a skilled player being one who, like in chess, can see several board moves ahead and eliminate bad moves immediately.

- I did not notice a balance issue with the starting position, but did not play enough games to give you any meaningful statistics there. To continue to beat the same dead-horse example, it is theoretically advantageous in chess to be white, but the number of combinations and permutations in the game make it almost impossible for a human to optimize on that basis. My guess is that you're fine... I would hazard a guess and say that you have more legal board positions in your game than chess does (I have not done the math to back that position up).

- KrisW nailed it above... it TOTALLY felt like a pub game, and I could easily see playing this over a pint of Guinness or two. Not sure if that helps you or not, but there you go :).

I'll try to get a few real games in with my oldest son, who seems wired for this type of game... if someone can crack the code, he probably can. It might be a few days before I can pull that off, though. Will keep you posted.

Joined: 12/02/2012
I think the new instructions

I think the new instructions work much better. I like the inclusion of the diagrams outlining a full game. It really helps to drive home how the game plays. I can't imagine anyone having trouble with the game after looking at the example you've included.

My only other note would be that I'm still confused as to whether the line you create with your pieces needs to include a pattern or not. Maybe I'm just missing something? I know in some of the examples (or maybe all of them?) you clearly show patterns within the winning condition lines, but I don't see that spelled out anywhere. So if completed a line that went BLUE space BLUE BLUE BLUE, would that still work? I guess the only reason why I'm so caught up on this is because I could have swore I saw somewhere in your description (not the rules, but in your forum post) about pattern recognition, yet don't see any official rule about this in the rule book. Again, maybe I'm just thinking about it too hard :)

Joined: 07/29/2008
New Rules Being Worked On

I am beginning to perform a complete rewrite of the rules with an emphasis on clarity. The strategy is to merge the illustrations with the actual rule text to provide definitive reinforcement. The advantage is that, hopefully, the use of illustrations right next to text will further clarify the rules. The disadvantage is that it makes the rules section seem larger (I was told that, once upon a time, anything past one page of rules and people begin to mentally drop out). I have two strategies - One is to use BubbleChucks' very artistic template that I am fortunate to have at my disposal and another is to see if I can somehow improve on on my own design without too much difficulty.

To answer questions / comments:

@ BadStrategist - Thank you for your feedback. My concerns are any obvious first/second player bias or if there is a "sure-fire" killer strategy that can't be defended against. After umpteen solo playtests, I've gone as far as I can before others take a crack at it to see if they find any glaring faults.

As for the pub game feel, that opens up a whole new merchandising level! Just imagine using shot glasses as pieces. You have to take a shot, then put the new piece onto the board. Or, for the beer lover, you drink a beer and then crush the beer can on your forehead and use that as the new piece. Many possibilities. :)

@ SinJinQLB - Thank you for your feedback. I am taking your feedback into consideration as I am rewriting the rules. Hopefully, the next version will be absolutely clear on the issues that you have raised.

NASG's picture
Joined: 10/15/2012
Gaps in the board

After reading through your game, thought the concept was great and there's scope for plenty of strategy.

One thing I didn't pick up on from the rules was how/where you could move one of your pieces in a gap, onto the grid.

Does it have to be a node immediately adjacent?

I've mocked up an example board where the gaps are connected by lines (these could be painted onto a wooden board, or a finer groove than your main grid, or similar), could you take a piece on a vertex on the gray line and move it to another vertex on the gray line, as an alternative move? To remove it from a situation where it is about to be surrounded, or to move it into a position that would be more advantageous when it was moved onto the grid?

Maybe that would just slow the game down or over-complicate it, as you're almost playing pieces on two separate grids?!

Joined: 07/29/2008
Moving a piece from "between intersections"

Thank you for your feedback. As I receive more feedback, it is becoming increasingly clear that this part of the rules is not as clear as it could be. I was hoping to debut a rewrite of the rules first to see if that could help clear up some issues where readers had questions. Unfortunately, my proficiency at using word processors and drawing programs isn't allowing me as much success as I had hoped.

To answer your question directly - Yes, a piece that is in a gap (either inside of a square or on the long side of a large triangle ["between intersections" as it used to be called] must be moved to the nearest open intersection (or 'node' as you've called it) of your choice should you want to move that piece. In the case of being inside of a square, that means the nodes immediately above, below or to the sides; It is similar for the triangle... The nodes that are immediately next to piece (think of the square cut in half). You don't have to move that piece; It can remain there for as long as it is not completely surrounded.

As for additional game rules, I have not considered additional game rules at this time. I may consider refining the present rule set if it appears that the game is sufficiently unbalanced (one side always wins because of some statistical advantage not presently seen, there is a "killer" strategy based upon the opening positions that hasn't been uncovered yet, the game "plays" too fast because games might be resolved too quickly, et cetera).

Again, thank you for your feedback.

Joined: 07/29/2008
Minor Update - "Advanced Rules," 9x9 & 5x5 board

I haven't stopped working on the game. Unfortunately, Real Life(TM) has interfered with development and has slowed down v1.03 & even work on a prettier version (v2.0.)

Some notes on my work thus far:

1). NASG got me thinking about advanced rules. As much as I am satisfied with the rules as is (even if I have not written them as clearly as needed), I know that the desire for more options is never far away. Therefore, I have worked out some advanced rules that are going through solo playtesting. Nothing concrete yet but, hopefully, the advanced rules will add a new wrinkle to the gameplay for those who feel that the present rules are fun but a bit too light.

2). 9x9 game board - I did some solo playtests with a 9x9 gameboard using the goal of five pieces to win instead of 4. It worked out surprisingly well. I can't trust myself anymore in solo playtests when it comes to first/second person bias but I couldn't find any "killer" strategies. My only overall sense (in both 7x7 & 9x9) is that an extremely aggressive strategy by one player only works if it succeeds early - Otherwise, it disadvantages that aggressive player later on because their pieces are not placed as well for later attempts at winning.

3). 5x5 game board - Somewhat disappointing after a few solo playtests with 3 instead of 4 pieces to win along with a modified opening position. The games were too fast and I felt myself "avoiding" solutions in order to draw out the game. I'll have to take a fresh look at it in a few days to see if I notice anything different with it the next time around.

4). I'm presently exploring alternative opening positions in the 7x7 & 9x9 boards and, perhaps, that is where some solid growth in the game might occur. It may well be that a multitude of starting positions might be a good basis for alleviating first/second player bias - One person picks the starting position, the other player starts first or second.

Anyway, that's all the work I've done lately on the game. I'd like to thank everyone for their comments so far and, if you have any further comments on the game, please let me know. Thank you.

Joined: 07/29/2008
V1.8 rules released - Requesting New Rippage

I'm releasing the v1.8 rules (it's in the first post) for my still tentatively titled board game. Amongst the improvement / revisions:

* A new title (still not convinced that it's THE title but it's closer)

* A new board game illustration that looks more professional.

* Integrated illustrations with the rules. As you read, you see the rules as demonstrated on the game board.

* Added a notation system in the rare event someone wants to save their games for posterity (hey, why not?).

Why is this not a v2.0 release? Because I want to see if this ruleset / art style / layout is absolutely clear before producing the work for all the other items like:

* 9x9 & 11x11 normal board illustrations.

* 7x7, 9x9 & 11x11 alternative board illustrations.

* Advanced rules for 9x9 & 11x11 boards (both types).

I would like to thank everyone who has offered their input so far for this game. Your input has been invaluable towards refining the game and the presentation for this game. I look forward towards hearing any further advice and input that you may have concerning the presentation of these rules and / or the playability of the game. Thank you.

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