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Game #37 - Good Cat Bad Cat by Steve Sisk (SiskNY)

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Game #37 - Good Cat Bad Cat by Steve Sisk (SiskNY)

With the holidays, this game has been getting quite a lot of playtesting. Of course it doesn't hurt that it's the only game that my wife will play (she regularly threatens to "kick everyone's butts"). I have taken the opportunity to try out a variety of changes to the game to improve on it overall (taking into account quite a few of the suggestions made here). Here's a list of the changes that are making their way into the new version of the game. I'll post the updated rules as soon as their ready.

1. Card Distribution. The first change I made was to the distribution of the numbered cards. There are far fewer of the highest and lowest numbered cards than there are of the middle numbered card. The rest of the numbered cards follow a rough bell curve distribution. This minimizes the effect of the highest and lowest cards. This was actually a change that I had wanted to implement almost as soon as I created the game! It really improves the play of the game (fewer dramatic swings in the game play, more control).

2. Smaller Hand Size. Reduced number of cards drawn at the start of every round to 5 (instead of 6). There were a few complaints that this limited a player's ability to maneuver their and other players' scores. It does to a degree, but this is offset by the reduced playing time (games before went for far longer than the light-nature of the game would allow). In my mind it's a sacrifice whose benefit outweighs any negative aspects.

3. Changed endgame scenario. Rather than play until one player reaches 100 points, I have been playing to a set number of rounds based on the number of players (so that every player has at least one chance of going first). Here's the breakdown:

2 players: 4 or 6 turns
3 players: 3 or 6 turns
4 players: 4 turns
5 players: 5 turns
6 players: 6 turns

I don't like that the game now runs from 3-6 turns depending on the number of players, but this greatly reduces game time (we played 4 players, 4 rounds in less than 40 minutes, down from more than 60++). I'm not sure if I like it this way, but for now it's working well.

4. Play one card upside down. During the card laying phase of the every round, every player has one opportunity to play one of their cards upside down (on anyone including themselves). That card remains hidden until the end of the round. This really gives players a chance to either build themselves up or bring someone else down in secret (without giving away their intentions).

Of course, all the MOVE cards have been changed from behavior specific (Move 1 Good, Move 1 Bad) to a generic "Move Any Card" so that upside down cards may be moved as well. Since a large portion of the game is about bluffing and outguessing your opponent, this aspect has added quite a lot of surprises and fun to the game (while also adding a little more strategy).

5. Best Cat/Worst Cat. The player with the highest Good Cat or Bad Cat Score in the game gets a bonus 10 points at the end of the game. This is tracked by using a token that can be claimed at the end of any round. If a player's Good Cat or Bad Cat Score exceeds the Best Cat/Worst Cat score for the game, then that player takes possession of the token and their score becomes the new Best Cat/Worst Cat score to be beaten in future rounds.

The nice thing about this addition is that a player can claim the token without having their Attempted Behavior match their Actual Behavior. Even if a player can't bank their score for the round, they can still shoot for the bonus point token. They just need to hang on to it until the end of the game. This adds another layer of strategy. Players need to ensure that no one runs away with a single round and therefore locks in the bonus token until the end of the game (which is exactly what happened in one game).

This adds a little more strategy for players who want a little depth of decisions.

Of course I don't have any delusions of making this a great and deep gaming experience. It is still a light weight game with a lot of theme and a lot of fun built in. But these changes go a long way towards polishing the rougher parts of the game.

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