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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

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Scurra
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You're all* amazing!
*well, the 9 of you that rose to the challenge, anyway.

Use this thread to comment on the 9 entries (found here) for the Bits and Pieces contest.

FastLearner
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Wow.

I'm nearly speechless. Those games are really fantastic, incredibly imaginative, and all very clever.

Wow.

Kreitler
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

FastLearner wrote:
Those games are really fantastic, incredibly imaginative, and all very clever.

Once again, I'm floored by the creativity of the entries. I expected at least a couple of entries about Hannibal and Alexander. You guys always reach well beyond ordinary themes and mechanics...

Can't wait to read them all.

K.

Challengers
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Fantastic Voyage

Each month, I get such a thrill out of reading the entries. I particularly love it when designers use the pieces in unexpected ways. Since I don't have any of these components, I was deprived of seeing the happy "accident" of a brown disk behind an elephant!
Hats off to Under the Cupboard! That presentation reads like a chapter from a Harry Potter novel (the latest installment of which I am now reading - so maybe there is a bit of influence....nahh!)

It was really tough to vote. These are all quality entries (mine could have used a more thorough proofing, but I liked mine, too )

Mitch

Hamumu
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

I was sitting here refreshing the page madly in the hopes of seeing some fun critique of my entry (which oh which can it be?!), when I decided that was a little hypocritical. So I have now carefully dissected each entry with a fine toothed comb (which is a very poor instrument for dissection, so please pardon the weakness of my critique), and present to you my thoughts on each, without giving away my own entry, or so I think.

1. Raja
It's interesting to me that multiple people thought of having 'dexterity' elements in their games given the small and fiddly components we were given! That's something cool about this game, it combines 'party game' dexterity silliness with some pretty serious strategy. My favorite thing here is the market price mechanic, a really simple and elegant way of handling supply vs. demand. The instructions are really sparse, obviously got chopped to bits in editing, and they suffer for it.

2. Under The Cupboard
The honey vs. willpower mechanic is a great simple strategic conflict that really reminds me of Category 5 (though heavier on the thinking). The multiple phases of the game, especially the last phase full of Guests and Hopefuls, make it more complicated than I'd like, though. This is a general problem with the entries this month, since it's very tough to make a simple game when you have dozens of unique components you have to shoehorn in! I think this game has a lot of good serious decisions to make.

3. Game Designer Game
Speaking of the problem with entries this month, this game takes the first idea I thought of when I read the contest rules and runs with it - making all the various pieces just be abstract "stuff" instead of giving unique meaning to each (kind of a big middle finger to the contest!). This is also the other game that includes dexterity elements. A really interesting game. Things I like are the idea of stacking pieces based on any shared aspect, the grabbing of pieces, and the giving of money based on how few pieces you grabbed. I disliked the bit about explaining your idea and making up what it means. That seems excessive for a game with this stacking and trampling focus, and with such a tenuous link to the idea of designing games. I did however like that it took a theme and abstracted it out in such a funky way. One last note: seems like pounding your fist on the table is an instant guaranteed knockdown of any stack... but maybe I just have a cheap table.

4. Found Objects
This was a funny, interesting and very unique theme. It's also one of two entries to recognize the brilliance of brown disks as elephant poop. The "Critique" action in this game is very reminiscent of the "Peer Review" action in the above game too. Maybe it's just me that sees the similarity there, but doesn't it seem like there are a lot of weird pairings in the games this month (two dexterity games, two funky wargames, two smashing/pooping-on criticisms, two that were hard for me to understand, two Raj(a) ones, two that significantly add extra components, and two poop-based entertainment experiences)? I think this entry does a pretty good job of boiling down the huge number of components to a fairly simple actual game. I like how the turn auction works, how any player can have any number of turns. But is that a runaway leader problem?

5. Fall Of The Raj
I really like how this game is a fairly standard wargame, but with really abstract and funky rules to give it a real flavor. It's also cool how it has two very distinct sides to play. I can imagine much playtesting needed to balance them. This is also a great use of all of the components. It almost seemed like they really belonged in it! Except of course the mysterious Indian leader "Onion Dome" and his brother "Dragon" ("Chair" I can handle).

6. David And Goliath
Another mysterious coincidence - this game is similar to Fall Of The Raj in that it's a wargame (sorta) with abstract and funky rules and two very different sides (one that only has one unit!). The RPG type elements are pretty cool, though I think it would be awfully complex to actually play because of them. But really though, I think this game works. I really love the randomly generated map by throwing blocks around (another thing somewhat like a dexterity element, or at least more 'light' than usual), although it could get tedious if the spacing doesn't come out right the first time. Gives me kind of a vibe of those huge simple wargames that have gigantic plastic mats to play on (well, I know one such game exists anyway... don't know what it was called, but one side had a cannon fired by flipping big tiles over, the other side had an ogre).

7. Silk Road
I can't believe this game actually adds several MORE components to the list. Ouch. I am intrigued because in general I like the concept of producing goods and making them into stuff (even though I still have yet to play Settlers Of Catan, sadly). Overall, this game seems really complex. It reminds me a lot of Sands Of Time. Could it be a jwarrend creation?

8. Gladiator Elephant Racing
It may be a culture thing (I'm gonna have to call "Brit" on this entry), but this is the one entry I had the hardest time really understanding. With a lot of re-reading I think I have it mostly down (for the longest time I thought your goal was to get to the middle of the board!). I like the freeform nature of it, how you stick your tiles together to build a path and see if you touch any hazards. Overall, it seems too complicated, with too many actions and elements to consider, though that may relate to my inability to, as they say, grok it. Which in turn may relate to the unfortunate confluence of the 800-word limit and the 6000-component contest.

9. Quintessentia
A very interesting and strange choice of theme. I have no idea where that came from (or what the title means in relation to it...). It's also another game I didn't really understand. Again this seemed like a problem with the contest - this many pieces means your rules are just full of all these different terms for all the components, and I'm always having to reference back to see just what it's referring to, and so on. It looks like this game needed another 5,000 words or so to get explained well enough for me to follow it. I got the basic gist (and like the idea of trying to have your house ready for when guests arrive), but I can't picture how it plays out at all, other than the cute cleverness of how the ice flips over and then vanishes.

And yes, I know I used the word funky too much, but it was the appropriate word in each instance.

Sebastian
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Hamumu wrote:
I was sitting here refreshing the page madly in the hopes of seeing some fun critique of my entry (which oh which can it be?!), when I decided that was a little hypocritical. So I have now carefully dissected each entry with a fine toothed comb (which is a very poor instrument for dissection, so please pardon the weakness of my critique), and present to you my thoughts on each, without giving away my own entry, or so I think.

I, on the other hand, don't think that I've got the skill to hide my entry, so I'm going to do the traditional 'wait until the votes are in, then critique' thing I've done previously.

markmist
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

I am going to take a wild guess and say that your game was #4 Found Objects.

Your clue was that you used this description to talk about all of the games in general.

Am I right?

Kreitler
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

markmist wrote:
I am going to take a wild guess and say that your game was #4 Found Objects.

Your clue was that you used this description to talk about all of the games in general.

Am I right?

I pegged him for #4 as well, but just based on a gut feeling. Your analysis is pretty shrewd...

doho123
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

hmmmm, I'm having a bit of a hard time deciding on how to vote here. Unlike last month, where you could simply imagine that you were going shopping for an Alien themed game, and then you just pick out the ones that best suited your needs, this group seemingly has too much variety to peg down. And the monster list-o-components doesn't help since that makes all the games a bit too complex and fiddle-ly than I'd like. and the fact that there seems to be the same amount of components as there are words allowed to describe the rules doesn't help!

So.....a big chunk of my voting criteria is probably going to come down to who used the components efficiently, even though I'm not really sure what that means!

Scurra
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

doho123 wrote:
the fact that there seems to be the same amount of components as there are words allowed to describe the rules doesn't help!

Frankly, that worried me too, right up to the moment that the first couple of entries arrived :-)

I do understand your dilemma though: I did think of adding a theme as well, but considered that the component restriction was tough enough. I don't think I realised the impact it would have on voting.

Hamumu
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

I will never give up my secrets!! But I will say that I threw the discussion of the general pairings into that one just because that was the point where it was getting crazy to me (and that game 'paired' with two others at the same time). What was weird about the designs to me was that they had those similarities, but the similarites didn't seem to come from the contest rules at all - the rules almost explicitly declare "no table-pounding or careful stacking allowed!" with the list of various little tokens, yet two of the games have that. I don't know, it was just funny.

seo
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

OK. Here I am. Back from vacation, connected to the net once again. :-)

I wasn't able to get enough time in front of a computer to submit my game idea for the GDS in time, so I officially missed this one. I had one idea ready, though. Should I submit it out of competition, or just post it as a journal entry? What do you guys (specially Scurra) think?

I haven't read any of the entries or the comments yet. I'll try to catch up with the thread in the afternoon.

Saludos,

Seo

Kreitler
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

seo wrote:
Should I submit it out of competition, or just post it as a journal entry? What do you guys (specially Scurra) think?

Hey Seo -- welcome back!

I don't have a problem with you entering the competition late. Sure, we'll know it was your design, but I don't think that would make much difference to most of us.

As for a journal entry, I'd like to ask anyone whose design got impaired by the word limit to repost their full rules. There are a couple of games that I just couldn't fully get, mostly because abbreviated rules left room for multiple interpretations. I'd really like to read what people originally intended...

K.

seo
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OK. I finally found some time to write up my notes. Here is what would have been my entry (784 words):

Elephant Cab

Overview
In old Bombay, it is not easy to succeed in the taxi business. There’s no shortage of opportunities, as tourists are eager to go sightseeing, but you need to get porters for sedan chairs and elephants to be able to carry groups. You also need agents to find tourists and prevent them from going with the competition. If you are successful, you might even earn enough Rupees to take your family on that cruise to Sri Lanka you always wanted.

Components
- Personnel to be used as sedan chair porters or elephant drivers: 155 Wooden cubes (31 each of five different colors).
- 50 Tourists (wooden discs).
- 36 Obstacles: double-sided square cardboard tiles (one side blue, one side red).
- 30 Trip Fare tokens (10 each of three types, labeled 1, 2, 3).
- 16 Auction bidding wooden disks, numbered 1 to 16.
Tourist “capturing” agents: 15 plastic Pawns (3 each of five colors).
- 10 six-sided Dice (2 each of five colours): used to determine trip destinations, and tourists and agents moves.
- 10 Wooden Elephants.
- 5 Sightseeing attractions: markers in the shape of a chair, onion dome, head, square and dragon.
- Cash (1, 5, 10 and 50 Rupees denominations)
- Board:

Set-up
Each player receives 50 Rupees.
Obstacles are distributed evenly among all players.
Players then place on the board, in turns, either one of the five sightseeing attractions (on one free green area), one tourist, or one of his agents (on any free beige road cell).
Trip fare tokens and bidding discs are placed in separate piles, face down.

Game Play
At the start of each round, elephant auctions take place in the central square of the city (brown 3x3 area). One elephant per player will be auctioned in separate auctions. (Auctions are explained in detail in a separate section.)

After the auctions, each player, on his turn:

    a) Rolls the 10 dice and moves agents and tourists according to the resulting values. Dice values determine available steps for his agents moves (player color dice), and tourists (rest of the dice). More than one die value can be applied to the same agent or tourist. Moving an agent along with his captured tourists counts as just one move. b) Moves his sedan chair porters and/or elephants & drivers up to a total of 20 steps. Moving four sedan chair porters or an elephant and driver count as a single moves.
    c) Places as much obstacles on the board as he wishes (see rules below).
Auctions
Each player takes three bidding discs from the pile, and keeps one or more of them to make his bid (bids are equal to the sum of the values on the discs kept), returning the rest. Once all players have their bids ready, the discs are turned up and the highest bidder gets the elephant, paying the bank as many Rupees as bided. Elephants enter the board at the central brown square, and must be accompanied at all times by a driver. If the player has no unused cubes, he can disassemble an empty sedan chair or buy new personnel (1 Rupee per porter/driver).

Players pieces
a) Agents
Agents are used to “capture” tourists (convince them to take one of your taxis). When an agent reaches a cell with a tourist, the tourist is captured. He will move along with the agent until a taxi (sedan chair or elephant) of the same player comes to take him. One agent can capture up to three tourists at a time.
b) Taxis
Four porters form a sedan chair, and can carry one tourist at a time. Once they reach their destination the tourists are left and the sedan chair can take a different passenger.
An elephant accompanied by a driver can carry up to three tourists at a time.

Trips
When a taxi reaches one of his agents with captured tourists, the player rolls one die to determine the destination of the trip:

    1 – Chair 2 – Onion dome
    3 – Head
    4 – Square
    5 – Dragon
    6 – Roll again
Once the destination is defined, the player draws one trip fare token per passenger. The sum of the token values will be paid by the bank once the passengers reach their destination.

Obstacles
Obstacles are used to block the rival taxis paths. A tile is placed on a free cell adjacent to a taxi: blue side up (water) to block a sedan chair, red side up (closed road) to block an elephant cab. Once placed, the obstacles remain on the board until the end of the game. Elephants can pass through water. Sedan chairs must sidestep all obstacles.

End of Game
The first player to save 250 Rupees for the cruise to Sri Lanka wins.

[/][/]
seo
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Kreitler wrote:
I don't have a problem with you entering the competition late. Sure, we'll know it was your design, but I don't think that would make much difference to most of us.

Ouch! Does that mean 'your design will be so lousy that we won't vote for it anyway'? ;-P
Just kidding.

I've just finished reading all the entries (I only begun reading today after I posted my non-entry). As many of you, I am surprised at the creativity shown. Hats off to all the entrants, and to Scurra, for the toughest GDS so far, and a very interesting one. Too bad I coudn't make it in due time.

When I first read the list of components I almost fainted! I honestly thought it was almost impossible to use all those bits in a reasonable way, yet, as Hammumu said, some of the entries really succeeded.

Congratulations to all the entrants.

Seo

Kreitler
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

seo wrote:
Kreitler wrote:
I don't have a problem with you entering the competition late. Sure, we'll know it was your design, but I don't think that would make much difference to most of us.

Ouch! Does that mean 'your design will be so lousy that we won't vote for it anyway'? ;-P
Just kidding.

Er...what I *meant* was, "I think we can all be objective about it."

Besides, we can always tell which entry is yours anyway because the art is way better than anyone else's. Just like this time. :-)

I haven't finished reading yours yet, but what I've seen looks very nice.

K.

Scurra
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Vote reminder - the deadline for voting is this Friday at noon GMT (so get your votes in by the end of today if you want to be sure they are counted.)

Kreitler
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Scurra wrote:
Vote reminder - the deadline for voting is this Friday at noon GMT (so get your votes in by the end of today if you want to be sure they are counted.)

David, thanks for hosting this month -- it was a great challenge.

It also got me thinking...

What if each month's winner had the option of choosing and hosting the next month's challenge instead of participating? If the winner didn't want to do this, he'd simply decline and the duties would fall to Bryk.

I'm not trying to suggest the Bryk is anything less than fantastic with the challenges. I just think it would give us a really wide variety of challenge styles.

This may not be an appropriate, depending on the administrative privileges and whatnot, but if that isn't a problem, it could be fun.

K.

seo
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Kreitler wrote:
What if each month's winner had the option of choosing and hosting the next month's challenge instead of participating? If the winner didn't want to do this, he'd simply decline and the duties would fall to Bryk.

I like the idea, and Bryk might like it too, as your system would let him take part more often (though if my guess for this month winner is right, this would mean Yogurt and Hammumu taking turns...) ;-)

Seo

doho123
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Quote:
if my guess for this month winner is right, this would mean Yogurt and Hammumu taking turns

Who's games are those?? I spent a little time trying to match up the way the rules were written with previous entrants and got nowhere. Again, I think the massive component crippled this bit of investigative reporting due to "creative editting down to the 800 word limit".

As a side note, I've got an idea or two for running the contest one of these months if everyone in charge is willing.

Scurra
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doho123 wrote:
As a side note, I've got an idea or two for running the contest one of these months if everyone in charge is willing.

This was why I got in quickly, as I figured that someone else would beat me to the "components spec." idea :-)

Yogurt
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I think seo means that he knows which game is Hammumu's, not that he knows which one is mine.

I didn't enter a game this month, sinking my time into Z-man's monster game instead.

Although if seo did think he knew which one was mine, he'd probably guess Under the Cupboard, just because it's about honey. :)

Yogurt

Hamumu
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

There clearly was no Yogurt game... not a single mention of the word "pudding" anywhere!

seo
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yogurt wrote:
Although if seo did think he knew which one was mine, he'd probably guess Under the Cupboard, just because it's about honey. :)

You got me! :-)

Seo

Scurra
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For the record:

Just for the record, although they were pretty much all identified correctly:

Component List
155 Wooden cubes (31 each of five different colors) El Grande
50 tiny Wooden disks (in one single color, Brown) Puerto Rico
36 plain double-sided square cardboard Tiles (blue on one side, red on the other) Fire and Ice (yes, I know that was a bit of a cheat!)
30 cardboard Shield tokens (in one single color, Blue, with 10 each of three types, labeled 1, 2 and 3) The Lord of the Rings
16 Wooden disks (in one single color, Yellow, numbered 1 to 16) Ra
15 plastic Pawns (3 each of five colors) I honestly have no idea!
10 six-sided Dice (2 each of five colours)Perudo/Liar's Dice (yes, I know there are more in the game, but that's all I had...!)
10 Wooden Elephants (in one single color, Brown) Mammoth Hunters
5 Wooden markers (in the shape of a chair, an onion dome, a head, a plain square and a dragon) St Petersberg / Carcassonne - The Princess and the Dragon
Cash (in 1,5,10 and 50 denominations) Power Grid

--
I think I said this elsewhere, but it was the wooden elephants from Mammoth Hunters that inspired the idea - I'd used practically all the other bits from that game in other prototypes, but not the elephants...

Kreitler
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Re: For the record:

Congrats to Sebastian, Hamumu, and Doho! Nicely done!

Overall, I thought that this month's designs were all closer together in terms of quality than in previous showdowns. It certainly was a tough competition in terms of creating tight rules with so many components.

Here are my critiques of individual entries:

(my apologies, Seo, but I haven't read your design, yet. I'll add the critique when I get to it.)

Under the Cupboard
This game has a charming theme and lots of tough decisions to make in the Mouse Hole phase. The rules for collecting willpower weren't quite clear -- the yellow disks determine the player order but the value on the shields determines how many disks I can remove? Since cash can't be earned and is used only for auctioning, it seems a bit out of place. I would like to see the "Mouse Hole" phase played out. The rules leave a lot of room for subtle strategizing.

Game Designer's Game
I like this game a lot. By abstracting the meaning away from the components, the author has avoided unnecessary complexity. Building "sets" is a great general mechanic. I also love the fact that players auction *away* their money. I agree with you that Exhibition seems a little forced. Also, I wonder how well the peer review round will actually work. It's a neat idea, but I'd like to see it played out. This got my #2 vote.

Found Objects
I love the parody of avante garde art culture! Again, I like the fact that the designer has abstracted away many components' individual meaning (now it's "Component Rummy"). The mechanics seem solid, but none really stands out (except for slinging poop, which is hilarious). This was my #1 choice -- a game with tongue firmly in cheek and easily-understood rules.

The Fall of the Raj
An interesting war game that makes excellent use of the components. I agree with you when you say that most of them felt like they really belonged in the game. The rules are clearly stated and seem simple -- a real feat given the component count. I wonder about some particulars: how useful is investing in a region when there are only 4 spare economic tiles? How exactly does combat work (the wording is ambiguous -- is there a maximum of 2 dice for the Indian side, or 2 dice per caste, which the Britsh then cancel?). This game got my #3 vote, though I suspect I would have rated it higher if I understood the rules more clearly.

David and Goliath
I like the terrain generation mechanic and the fact that there are characters with stats. The random character generation could result in some pretty skewed games. Also, since there's no way for Goliath to force a confrontation, it seems like the game could degenrate into "David fights a strategic retreat until the best possible moment, then attacks." That could drag out. I would've liked to see "separate but equal" victory conditions for each side -- maybe Goliath needs to "trample" all the yellow cubes in order to win.

Silk Road Encroaches
I like the complex blend of pick-up-and-deliver and build-your-vp play. Unfortunately, some ambiguity in the rules made it hard to understand (for example -- does a player's influence in a city accumulate, or exist only for the turn during which he sells?). Also, it seems like games could get quite long with 4 or 5 players. Overall, this game feels quite complex, but I couldn't grasp the rules well enough to see potential strategies and their interactions.

Elephant Cricket Racing
I marvel at the designer who was able to make a race game from the required components -- nice job! By the second read-through, I think I grasped most of the rules, but I still had some questions. For example, do "slide" hazards accumulate? In other words, if my opponent "slides" me over another "slide" hazard, does he slide me again? Also, I was never quite clear on this, but are you running in a clockwise circle, trying to make as many laps as possible? The use of the red/blue squares as movement markers is very clever. Overall, I thought this game stood out for its genre (racing). I'd have to see it played to understand the interactions of its rules.

Quintessentia
This was another game that seemed ripe for deep strategizing. I had to read the rules twice before I understood the basic play elements. I never did get a comfortable feel for complex interactions. I like the fact that what you can do depends mostly on who is visiting your house, so ice becomes an indirect resource for special actions. The interactions of goods, cash, and ice are deeply intertwined, which is good for strategy, but makes insight into the game difficult without a play session. Also, some ambiguity in the rules hurt my comprehension (e.g., do you have to commit a confidant to a "protection" role to use it as a defense against murder?).

Raja
This is my entry. I was really pleased with it, given that I thought I'd never come up with a game using the given components. The design actually flowed very easily. Unfortunately, the original rules draft weighed in at almost 1500 words. After serious trimming, I had a nice "lean and mean" set of rules at 1000 words. Removing the final 200 really hurt the game. Some additional concepts I'd had -- like using your leader to increase output during the Production phase -- would have added some tough decisions, but there simply wasn't room. I'd like to flesh out the design and try the game at some point -- I think there might be some good stuff in there (but I've been wrong before...).

That's it folks. Congrats again to the winners. I'm looking forward to next month's showdown.

K.

Hamumu
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Okay, so I guess I didn't hide my game too well. And yes, I put in that other chatter about other games because the stuff I had written on mine was too short compared to the others. Foiled again!! I think I might have to reserve my commentary until after voting in the future.

But 2nd place, I am very happy with! I believe the #1 winner was my #1 vote. That was great work. I think it did the most impressive job in terms of the actual contest because it really felt like the components belonged there. Everybody else, myself included, had some shoehorning to do (well, except the Game Designer Game, which probably would work even better with MORE components). And I don't know if those rules were just made up at random or what, but it sounds like they come together to form a really interesting cohesive game.

For my own game, I think it would work well as a real game, and I'd like to try it, but I'd strip out some of it. I put in more than I wanted to, just because the components demanded it. I think the Masterpiece Board is cute, but ultimately pretty pointless. The one mechanic I couldn't resist including, even when I was trying to trim things down and I knew it was the least important, was the idea of s****ing all over someone else's work. Because that is just funny. It originally involved placing the poops onto the Masterpiece Board, locking down spaces so they couldn't be counted in a picture or flipped, but that was far worse, it would almost have to be done at random.

One idea on mine that I had after release was to turn the auction around. Say that the boss is auctioning off NON-working hours - there are 16 hours to be worked in a day (it's a sweatshop), all back in the framing and matting section. You can pay the boss off to not have to work certain hours (bid on the time discs), freeing up that time for shmoozing with the modern art crowd, your 'side' work. With that 'story', each person would receive income every round for however many discs they did NOT win, reversing the runaway leader problem, so that people who were unable to get a lot of discs (turns) would get a lot of money that they could use next time. Oh, and also I was thinking that you'd actually have to pay to complete the artworks instead of getting paid for them (maybe you have to pay the other players to look the other way on your usage of all these stolen goods). So the better you did, the more you'd be held back on the next round. Something like that. Paying for the artworks might be going too far, though.

One entry I liked that ended up just falling out of my top 3 once I realized I had to include Under The Cupboard was Raja. I think it could be a very good game. It's funny how it's a serious strategy game, but your success in it can be cut down by your fumbly fingers. The idea of building walls and having that as your defense value is nice. I could see other physical constraints - like saying the discs have to touch, but if your wall goes from one side of the tile to the other, you can prevent guys from crossing it somehow. Or that your wall is 'worth' the number of stacks it contains times the height of the shortest one (assuming you require specific stacks as opposed to making pyramids and such). There's a lot of interesting things you can do with that basic idea. The problem with this game, of course, lies in the chopped down rules, which are practically a haiku.

Oldest player first,
Play proceeds clockwise from there,
Roll six-sided die.

(an interesting idea for a contest...)

doho123
doho123's picture
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Quote:
The rules for collecting willpower weren't quite clear -- the yellow disks determine the player order but the value on the shields determines how many disks I can remove?

Actually, the rule is:

A)Remove will power equal to the yellow disc number played
B)Then decide how many shields to play, based on the fact you can only play, at most, one less shield than the previous player.

So, playing a low yellow disc gets you a low amount of definite will power removal, a lot of random removal, and some control over how much random removal for future players.
--A high amount gets you a definite high amount of removal, but a relatively low amount (or none!) of random removal. And a chance that someone previous has entered the mousehole. HOWEVER, if noone else has entered, there is a very good chance that the will power has been reduced enough that you can easily enter.

buthrukaur
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

I figured I would post the more cohesive version of the rules (800 words for all those components?!?) and fill in the inspiration since I am not a Brit.
I have always thought that the chair from St Pete looked similar to a cricket picket. Since cricket is one of the most useless sports and they have lots of elephants in India where the games is more popular then it is in GB why not combine them. What could be more useless then racing ponderous elephants.

w/oFA here are the more complete rules:

Gladiatorial Elephant Cricket Racing
Components:
Cubes (31 each)
Red: Damage
Yellow: Stun
Brown: Slip Hazard
Blue: Slide Hazard
Green: Stop Hazard
50 Wooden disks: Poop
36 1” cardboard Tiles: Movement
30 Shield tokens: Attack Counters
16 Yellow Wooden disks: Score markers
15 plastic Pawns (five colors)
10 d6 (five colors)
10 Elephants
5 Team pickets
Cash

Object: To cross your finish line while riding an elephant more times then any other player.

Setup:
Each player selects a team marker and pawn color, matching dice and 50 cash. Divide the hazard markers into 5 random piles of approximately matching size, colors do not have to match. Set one movement tile in the center of the table blue side up. Players then place 5 tiles edge to edge away from the central tile and place their picket on edge of the 5th tile. Once all pickets are placed remove the tiles but the blue center tile, this forms the raceway.

2 player

5 player

Player’s finish lines are drawn from the center of the blue tile to the center of their picket. This imaginary line extends outward to the edge of the table. Players will generally move their pawns clockwise around the raceway as they can never cross any player’s finish line counter clockwise. The area inside the pickets is considered to be out of bounds (in a two player game this comes into effect as soon as a pawn crosses the center of the raceway.)

Players then perform an open auction for the hazard pools. Winning player takes the pool he wants and drops it from 12 inches or higher. Repeat until all players have dropped hazard pools. This will randomly place hazards on the board that must be navigated to compete in the race. Players place their pawns in a line next to their pickets. Each player places 2 wooden Elephants about halfway between his picket and the next picket. No player owns elephants and they may be used by any player that wishes. Place the score markers shuffled in a pile in the center of the raceway. Give each player 2 of each attack shield and shuffle the rest off to the side.

Game Play:

Players closed fist auction for the right to choose to go first or last each turn. Other players take their turns in clockwise order. Each player then rolls both dice or places one die with the 6 side up. Each player that rolls a 1 on any of his dice will place a poop counter directly behind any one of the elephants not ridden by another player’s pawn. If none are available you may not place poop.

Attack and stun counters are placed beside your pawns as needed during play. These can be removed at the end of the turn. Your pawn could end up with multiple counters during the course of a turn.

The number on the dice is a player’s Action Points. As you spend APs decrement your dice. Players spend APs on one action at a time passing to next player clockwise. Your pawns are moved when you spend your last AP (if you spend you last AP before any other player you may move all your pieces immediately,) all tiles you played are removed from the table. You may spend APs for the following:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Foot) Move one of your pawns: 1 AP
You move pawns by placing one edge of a movement tile on the edge of one of your pawns. You may move a pawn as many times as you want to as long as you have action points. Pawn’s movement tiles cannot touch another’s so that no pawn from any player will cross paths. Movement tiles may overlap previous tiles in the same path for times you may need to move only half a tile to get into position.
If your movement tile touched or covers a hazard you must resolve the hazard immediately. Hazards are removed from the table as they are resolved. In case of multiple hazards you choose which one to resolve but you only resolve one hazard even if you land on multiple copies of the same hazard.

(Rider) Move an elephant you are riding: 2 APs
Elephant movement resolves much like foot movement with the following exceptions. Elephants require 2 APs to move. Also you may place Elephant movement tiles over another pawn. If your movement resolves before that pawn is moved you will add a wound counter to that pawn.

Hazards
Slip – Riding elephant: left opponent places your pawn next to the elephant. You pawn receives a stun counter. Foot: no more movement tiles for this pawn.
Slide – Foot: left opponent places a tile for movement for this pawn. This does not require an AP.
Stop – Riding elephant: no more movement tiles for this pawn. Foot: lose an AP.
Poop – foot: no more movement tiles for this pawn.

Mount an unridden elephant: 1 AP
Place a red tile on top of an elephant that your pawn will move next to or is next to. Place a pawn next to elephant on top of elephant when resolved. You cannot move an elephant that you would mount this turn.

Fight for ridden elephant: 2 AP
If your movement tiles would end your pawn next to a ridden elephant you may place a shield counter face down on the last tile. You may add additional shield counters for 1 AP each. Opponent may place shield counters beneath his pawn for 1 AP each. When resolving actions both players reveal shields at same time.
Attacker wins: defender knocked off elephant (place to side of elephant) and takes stun counter, attacker mounts elephant.
Tie defender knocked off elephant (place to side of elephant.)
Defender wins: attacker receives wound counter.

Push pawn: 1 AP
If your movement tiles end your pawn next to opponent’s pawn you may place a red tile next to opponent’s pawn for 1 AP, resolve this tile when resolving your movement. You may not push a pawn riding an elephant. Pushed pawns do not trigger hazards but do remove them.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pawns ending the round inside the out of bounds (area enclosed by the pickets) are returned to their starting picket. (In a two-player game a pawn is considered to be out of bounds when it crosses the center-line and are placed at the starting picket immediately.) Pawns may not be moved counterclockwise across finish lines but can be moved any direction as long as they do not do so.

Any time something prevents resolving pawn movement completely resolve as much as possible. For example: Player 1 has placed 2 movement tiles on one of his pawns and player 2 moves his pawn into position and pushed his pawn and resolves his movement pushing player 1’s pawn. If player 1 cannot place a movement tile to get back to his original path then he loses the tiles he placed previously.

End of the turn: You may remove only 1 stun OR attack counter at the end of the turn. A stun counter is removed for free. Wound counters must be removed by paying 2 shields. Wounded or stunned pawns may not use APs. All players draw 1 random shield if have less then 6.

When your pawn cross you own finish line while riding an elephant you take a random score marker from the middle and gain cash equal to the number. Player with most markers is the winner. Ties are broken by most remaining cash.

Kreitler
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Hamumu wrote:
The idea of building walls and having that as your defense value is nice. I could see other physical constraints - like saying the discs have to touch, but if your wall goes from one side of the tile to the other, you can prevent guys from crossing it somehow. Or that your wall is 'worth' the number of stacks it contains times the height of the shortest one (assuming you require specific stacks as opposed to making pyramids and such). There's a lot of interesting things you can do with that basic idea. The problem with this game, of course, lies in the chopped down rules, which are practically a haiku.

Oldest player first,
Play proceeds clockwise from there,
Roll six-sided die.

Tell me about it. I had several other "wall" rules that didn't make it in:

1) The amount of surplus grain in a city is equal to the wall's height at its lowest point.
2) The max number of defense dice you can roll is equal to the wall's height at its lowest point.

etc.

Some I abandoned because they seemed forced, others because of room.

I really wanted to include the rules for using your player marker to enhance grain production, but there simply wasn't room.

When I finally submitted the rules, I wondered, "Will anyone understand this gibberish?" I like to think Raja would have fared better had I published the longer ruleset, but I wonder -- the top 3 games were awfully good.

Of course, today I had another idea for a design that was probably simpler: build towers using the cubes and the red/blue tiles. You use the wooden disks as workers placing blocks, use elephants to lift the very heavy stone slabs (tiles) up into place. You can also use wooden disks as saboteurs to raid other players' supplies. You decorate your towers with statues (pawns) and gardens (numbered tiles). All the building materials contribute toward the total VP of the tower. Game ends when somebody uses up all 7 of his tiles. Use dice to resolve theft attempts and generate resources for trade and cash. So simple. Makes me wonder if I could write it up in under 800 words.

Ah, well -- there's always next month...

Ah, well.

Anonymous
Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Hi. I didn't vote, because I didn't see any way to choose. When reading the entries, I was mostly thinking about how the rules work and where they might be broken, but that seems kind of irrelevant here, since they're not finished games, the descriptions are crippled by the word limit, and the problems are generally easy to fix.

Anyway, this is from my notes on the entries.

Raja. I think I'd arrange my cities in a corridor so that they have to be attacked one at a time. The city in front gets a tall single-column wall to make it hard to attack, and the city in back gets a short broad wall to earn grain.

Under the Cupboard. As a Hopeful, I'd make one row of the Mousehole all blue and put all the Elephants on that row, which makes it unlikely that the Guest will exit, for the first three rounds. The fourth round will have most of the Elephants and probably award most of the points.

The Game Designer's Game. This was my entry. I think I didn't explain something right. You're not limited to single-column vertical stacks. I was thinking players would build pyramids out of pieces, put cash across pyramids like a bridge, and put other pieces on top to weight and unbalance the cash, but there might be better ways to approach it. I tried to structure the game so that open-ended creativity doesn't break it, but there are still some things broken. The design is kind of a consequence of the thought, "I want to auction off the cash, how can that work?"

Found Objects. If I don't get enough consecutive Work Hours, other players can sabotage the progress I make toward cashing in an Art Card, and there's no other way to recover spent money. It's difficult to bluff when everything is open, so I think I'd be conservative about bidding, and hope the other players compete to bankruptcy.

The Fall of the Raj. The British have more cash, which lets them get better AP, which gives them more resources to take and hold territory, which gives them more cash. I don't see how the Indians can disrupt that cycle.

David and Goliath. Since Goliath can't force David to fight, Goliath can't win. If David is slower than Goliath, then David can't win either.

The Silk Road Encroaches. This one is hard for me to analyze without trying it. It's not clear to me the shields have much effect on the game. I think I'd ignore the auction unless I were the last player to bid.

Gladiatorial Elephant Cricket Racing. The shortened rules didn't mention you score only on an Elephant, so it didn't seem like the Elephants were useful except maybe to use up AP to get my moves resolved first, and 2d6 variance in AP makes that kind of iffy. I think with the longer rules I'd still try to do most of the race on foot, assuming I can dismount. It depends on the attack balance, and I don't have a feel for that without trying it.

Quintessentia. I didn't see an explanation of how to get more Sons, and it's hard for me to analyze the game without knowing that.

Elephant Cab. There's no asymmetry, delivery targets are luck, so it doesn't matter much where the attractions are. I'd place tourists and attractions near the center to make it easier to affect other players with my obstacles, and I'd save obstacles until the end, since playing them early would affect me too.

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