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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

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

Hats off to Sebastian, Hamumu and doho123! I was really happy to see Under the Cupboard score well - it was special!

It seems that my strength is coming up with wacky ideas, and my weakness is putting them all together coherently. My David and Goliath entry suffered a glaring omission: I failed to clarify how Goliath could win. In the intro, I mentioned that Goliath must demoralize David. Somewhere on the cutting floor is the actual rule: if David's morale cards are all red, Goliath wins immediately. If I were to do this game completely, I'd scrap the auction and just let them buy stuff whenever they entered the market places. I'm not a hardcore RPG'er, I kinda winged it - but I was pleased that the map idea was well-received.

Mitch

Kreitler
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

grayscale wrote:
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.
Quote:

Yeah -- the rule about using your player marker to increase production would have helped to fix this. That rule states that you place your player marker on your lands during production. Any orthogonally adjacent city gains a bonus +1 to production. This discourages creating a city bottleneck. In the end, I just dropped it, thinking that a line of cities would crumble quickly after the first one fell.

Thanks for the notes, grayscale -- they're much appreciated.

K.

Anonymous
Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Kreitler wrote:
In the end, I just dropped it, thinking that a line of cities would crumble quickly after the first one fell.

It depends a bit on how hard it is to stack the wall pieces. I was thinking, if I can stack all 9 of my initial pieces, that makes me almost invulnerable on the first turn. 2d6 vs 9 is bad bet, since most of the time it will lose an elephant, and when it succeeds it only removes a few stones, which I can add back on my next turn. Knocking down that wall would probably require cooperation from about 3 or 4 players, and that's a losing proposition for most of them, so it doesn't seem likely to happen.

Sebastian
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Sebastian wrote:
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.

Firstly, thanks to everyone who voted for me. As promised, I thought I'd give you my thoughts on the various submissions this month.

Fall of the Raj: Mine, so I couldn't vote for it. I'll discuss my thoughts about it in a different post at some point in the future.

Gladatorial Elephant Cricket Racing - First place: I liked the idea behind this game a lot. Admittedly, in order to get it to work, I think that you'd need to change the course layout so that the various players interacted with one-another more - at the moment, I suspect the players are going to spend most of the game separated. Secondly, I think that the hazards aren't especially interesting, but they do all seem to work sensibly. I think that there's a pretty reasonable game in there.

Found Objects - Second place: The auction mechanic in the game is interesting, and I feel that the game works and hangs together proberly. Admittedly, I'm not at all keen on the rather abitrary scoring mechanic, which I'm sure will lead to kingmaking. I think that, say, awarding 5 points for each work by the best artist, 3 for the second best, 2, 1 would be a better method. My main fear is that the elements in general would end up too fiddly for the game underneath.

Quinti... Ice House - Third place: The rules, despite being hard to understand in places, all seemed to tie together in interesting ways. I liked the concept of having to get items geographically distant back to your home location, and how that distance worked in the other way for the traders. And on that basis, I awarded third place.

Under the Cupboard: There was an interesting reverse auction mechanism for entering the mousehole, and an amusing mechanism for inside the mousehole. Unfortunately both parts of the game were at best marginally linked, and I really dislike games which do that. Your choices in one bit of the game should depend on or have an effect on your choices in other bits of the game. Maya is another example of a game which does this, and I didn't like the feature there, either.

Raja: I noted a possible misspelling in the rules - I assume that x = attacker - defender - stones in wall. But that wasn't enough to deter me. What deterred me was the rather uninspiring market system, with a klunky flipping tiles mechanism, and as far as I could tell no way in which prices could ever be decreased which resulted in a game with rather limited scope for strategy - you buy to optimise your position, then mount what attacks you can get away with. It may well work, but I don't think it would ever be a game I could get excited about. And my feeling is that changing the way items are bought is probably the key to doing this.

David and Goliath: There's an interesting dynamic map, but I'd be concerned about what ambiguities the map creates. The game is also rather rules heavy for the amount of game it contains (blame the companants), and seems to have little strategy, even if there are reasonable tactics. I'm not currently sure how Goliath is supposed to win.

The Silk Road Encroaches: Pick up and deliver games generally don't work, and I don't see much here that convinces me that this one would be different. The influence cubes seem to be an attempts, but not one that I am convinced would work.

Game Designers Game: The game sounds interesting, but I cannot for the life of me understand what's going on in the exhibition, or indeed what I should try to be doing to win.

On the whole, though, well done. The games in general felt more convincing than in previous showdowns, and all the games stuck within the restrictions - not having to knock people off for missing bits was a welcome change. I enjoyed reading them.

Sebastian
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Sebastian wrote:
Fall of the Raj: Mine, so I couldn't vote for it. I'll discuss my thoughts about it in a different post at some point in the future.

My first thought when I saw the challenge was 'Werg. What on earth am I going to do with all those pieces'. My second one was 'I've been bemoaning the fact that I haven't designed any two player games for some time - this is an ideal oppotunity'.

Now, with a two player game, five different colours of pieces is not ideal. Especially when you have all the extra brown tokens as well. I either had to work out a way that all the pieces could be shared by both players - which seemed logistically horrible, or, as I decided, I just gave all the coloured tokens to one player. This pretty much dictates that all the others have to go to the other player, or they'll feel left out, so all the brown ones. This left the shields, the coloured tiles and the numbered disks.

Any game with that number of pieces really had to be a war game. One side had elephants, so I stuck it in India. If it's a war game, there needs to be fighting - that uses the dice for the Indians, but the British need some random numbers too, so I stuck the shields and the numbered disks to the British side. Finally, you need something to fight over, so I chose the flippy tiles to do that.

Good so far - but I need an auction. Well, I have the cash, but I don't currently have an idea about what to auction off. So I took the number tiles off the British, and auctioned them off instead. I'd recently played Twilight imperium, and I liked the idea about the control markers, so I used that idea with the twist that the number on the marker dictated how effective the actions you took could be.

Finally, I made up a load of actions, put together a plausible sounding battle scheme (I haven't a clue how well it works, I'm afraid), and some plausible winning conditions, and hey presto, there it was.

...

So, how good do I think it is? It's hard to say, really. It's certainly a lot swingier than most other games I've developped, but you can get away with that a lot more effectively in two player games. The decision about what tactics are best seem non-obvious, and there seems to be a nice direction and flow about the game, though, both of which probably bode well for the game.

With regards to balance, again, I don't really know. The British are certainly a lot stronger economically, but I believe that they are behind in military strength due to the fact that there were a lot fewer wooden circles, and the fact that they will need to use their actions to replenish their shield tokens. They will also probably want to avoid using their economic strength to get to their victory condition. It's hard to read (certainly hard for me, as I wrote it to sound plausibly balanced).

I suppose, at some point, I'll have to put it together and see how it actually does work. But where would I find the pieces... ;)

Anonymous
Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Sebastian wrote:
With regards to balance, again, I don't really know. The British are certainly a lot stronger economically, but I believe that they are behind in military strength due to the fact that there were a lot fewer wooden circles, and the fact that they will need to use their actions to replenish their shield tokens.

The problem I ran into is the Indians can only get one attack die per caste, and they always lose one unit from every caste. The cheaper unit recruiting doesn't seem to compensate for that. Movement also favors the British, they only have to move one unit to use another shield, but the Indians will often have to move several units to use another die.

Sebastian wrote:
Game Designers Game: The game sounds interesting, but I cannot for the life of me understand what's going on in the exhibition, or indeed what I should try to be doing to win.

Ah, yeah. Thanks, that's helpful. Part of the problem is my idea for the game changed halfway through writing it, and it came in so close to the 800 word limit that I didn't want to mess with it too much. Most of the rules were about trying to make unbalanced situations become balanced in one way or another, and that makes it difficult to see the path to victory.

I think to redo it, I'd start over from the resolution phase and work backward from there. You're building structures out of pieces and bills, and then trying to make the bills fall without collapsing the pillars supporting them. You get some score if you've built well, but you get more score if you can make the bills from several players fall simultaneously without destroying the infrastructure, and that's ultimately more lucrative. It's meant to be somewhat like nuclear standoff.

Kreitler
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Sebastian wrote:
What deterred me was the rather uninspiring market system, with a klunky flipping tiles mechanism, and as far as I could tell no way in which prices could ever be decreased which resulted in a game with rather limited scope for strategy - you buy to optimise your position, then mount what attacks you can get away with. It may well work, but I don't think it would ever be a game I could get excited about. And my feeling is that changing the way items are bought is probably the key to doing this.

Ouch -- but at least you didn't disqualify me outright this month, which is a first!

You drive prices down by selling back to the market. Granted, you can never drive prices out of the range set by the tiles' numbers, but that's intentional. At the median values, it roughly balances the statistcal cost of the pieces' attack and defense values (2 wall blocks each of defense 1 cost 3/8 as much as 1 shield with average defense of 3.5 costs 4/7 as much as an elephant with average attack of 7). Furthermore, the cost ratios across the entire range of market prices favored defense, which helped balance the fact that some aspects of defense depend on dexterity, while attack never does.

The clunky flipping tiles mechanism aside, I think the market had some interesting aspects. Then again, if people dislike it, it doesn't matter what I think.

Sebastian
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Critique the July 2005 Showdown entries

Kreitler wrote:
Sebastian wrote:
What deterred me was the rather uninspiring market system, with a klunky flipping tiles mechanism, and as far as I could tell no way in which prices could ever be decreased which resulted in a game with rather limited scope for strategy - you buy to optimise your position, then mount what attacks you can get away with. It may well work, but I don't think it would ever be a game I could get excited about. And my feeling is that changing the way items are bought is probably the key to doing this.

Ouch -- but at least you didn't disqualify me outright this month, which is a first!

You drive prices down by selling back to the market. Granted, you can never drive prices out of the range set by the tiles' numbers, but that's intentional...

I suppose my problem is that, given the inclination of most players, they'll want to build up their forces. I therefore can't see any selling doing anything more than temporarily depressing the market price, which will immediately spring back up to maximum. Yes, the first person to market may get away with cheaper prices, but the rest of the time, it'll be at the top.

Kreitler wrote:

The clunky flipping tiles mechanism aside, I think the market had some interesting aspects. Then again, if people dislike it, it doesn't matter what I think.

Some interesting aspects, yes, but I'm not convinced about them for this game. My feeling is that you either want the market to be boring 'you can buy this at this fixed price', or a lot more interesting 'Create 6 lots at random, and auction them off'.

This, admittedly, is just my take on the situation ;)

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