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Help with Hidden Information

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questccg
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So I am working on my second "mash-up" title. Strangely enough this one combines Pandemic, Risk and Clue.

Some background about the game: the game is about the Second World War (WWII). And it is specifically designed around the time of the end of the war where the Nazis' are developing their ultra secret V-Bomb plans. As some of you already know, the Nazis could have maybe won the war had they finalized the V-Bomb and used them to attack England.

I am working with "Clue's" Hidden Information mechanic (namely hidden cards, removed from the game's central deck).

The game has 42 different country locations (all around Europe). Of those country locations, 2 are kept secret as being the secret factory where the V-Bombs are being built at and the secret launch site where the V-Bombs are supposed to take flight.

As players uncover country locations, they can eliminate locations from being the 2 secret locations.

The problem with this is that players need to "exhaust" the entire deck (40 cards) before being able to say which 2 locations are used for the ultra secret V-Bombs.

Can anyone propose OTHER types of Hidden Information mechanics or some kind of variant of Clue that makes it possible to either NOT exhaust the entire deck or have a way to keep secrecy (or winning conditions) from players???

As of today what I have planned is that the 10 last locations are kept secret and mixed with those cards is ONE (1) card, let's call it the V-Bomb card, which is mixed into the deck. If that card appears four (4) cards or later in the deck, players will win the game. If it appears EARLIER, players lose the game. The odds are 60/40 in favor of winning the game.

I'm not completely satisfied with this solution and wonder what anyone else might have as other ideas... Also there are NO Nazi players, that is handled by Artificial Intelligence (aka game rules). So that information must be kept secret from ALL players not just certain ones.

Feel free to also ask questions should clarifications be needed...

chriswhite
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to clarify

the players are competing against each other to uncover the missiles, right?

christof
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Am I understanding this

Am I understanding this right? The victory or defeat of the players is dependent on the random position of one card among the last 10 location cards? So players burn through 30+ different locations, just to find out if random chance has determined whether they win or lose?

Perhaps I don't understand enough about the game.

As far as alternate methods...
One way to keep information a secret is to not have any secret information at all. When players uncover a location, they can roll dice to determine if they've found the V-bomb. The more locations they've uncovered, the greater the chance that the roll will succeed.

If players are able to explore locations randomly, like moving around on a board, then you could place a random card face down on each location. Two of the locations would have a "V-bomb" card, and the rest would be blanks or something. Although, functionally, this isn't much different than the dice rolling mechanism above.

questccg
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chriswhite wrote:the players

chriswhite wrote:
the players are competing against each other to uncover the missiles, right?

No players are co-operating with each other. Each player has a maximum of armies at his/her own disposal (which varies according to the number of players). So players will need to co-ordinate attack on various locations (if the Nazi army is present).

Some locations will become Nazi "Strongholds". Stronghold produce extra troops each turn. So what happens at the start of the game, Berlin is the ONLY Nazi Stronghold. From that stronghold, more Nazi troops get produce and migrate to nearest locations in Germany...

This is sort of like Pandemic's outbreak mechanic.

questccg
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Not sure about it...

christof wrote:
Am I understanding this right? The victory or defeat of the players is dependent on the random position of one card among the last 10 location cards? So players burn through 30+ different locations, just to find out if random chance has determined whether they win or lose?

Yeah you understood correctly. That's why I'm not happy with the mechanic and searching for another method.

christof wrote:
As far as alternate methods...

Yes I am searching for an alternate method to accomplish the resolution of the game. See in the 1st phase of the game, players try to co-operate such that the Nazi's don't have 10 Strongholds. If the Nazis reach this amount, the players lose the game.

This is FUN and requires coordination with the different players. Each player has his own role and can perform special actions matching their role.

christof wrote:
If players are able to explore locations randomly, like moving around on a board, then you could place a random card face down on each location. Two of the locations would have a "V-bomb" card, and the rest would be blanks or something. Although, functionally, this isn't much different than the dice rolling mechanism above.

Then the game would be simply about travelling to ALL the locations and then the game ends... But I understand your idea, I'm seeing if it can be changed into something that can actually work. Thanks for your input, I will reflect on your suggestions to see if I can come up with anything that may work.

questccg
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Special Operatives (SOS)

So the game allows for up to 6 players to play together. But there are 8 SOS:

1-Infiltrator: Required to penetrate a Nazi stronghold
2-Bomber: can fly to a location and bomb it (50% odds of success)
3-Explosives: Use a special explosion token during battles
4-Sniper: Use a special snipe token during battles
5-Engineer: Moving around cost less APs (Action Points)
6-Scout: Has MORE APs than other roles
7-Medic: Second chance during battles
8-Commando: Can battle twice on the same turn (same location)

I think these roles add some *NICE* flavor to the game...

questccg
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Some more and interesting thoughts

questccg wrote:
Then the game would be simply about travelling to ALL the locations and then the game ends...

The nice thing about your idea is that it could create REAL TENSION. How? Well if there was a method to CROSS-REFERENCE Clues to a location. Instead of Dice and Cards, perhaps we could simply use a circular token (shard). Two of these have V-Bomb icons. The first one displayed is the Factory and the second one is the Launch site.

Two (2) cards are removed from the 42 deck of locations. That leaves 40 locations to travel. When a player draws a location card, this shows all the players that the location is NOT one of the two locations.

If you reveal BOTH markers, players LOSE.

Again the ONLY problem I have with this idea - is again you need to "exhaust" the deck. Otherwise it's like a 50/50 odds of winning or losing the game when you come to the LAST card in the deck...

questccg
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Player's Deck

As I am relying on some of Pandemic's mechanics, the Player's Deck is supposed to be the *dynamic* Clue cards that get revealed as the game progresses.

Note: Please be aware this is a very *volatile* design - since it is still rather immature in the development stage.

Pandemic says Player's LOSE if they "exhaust" the Player's Deck (A player cannot draw 2 Player cards = LOSS). In this game, Player's would ALWAYS WIN if they "exhaust" the Player's Deck... Because this means ALL card locations would be revealed and the two (2) locations would be OBVIOUS.

So I need some kind of MIDDLE GROUND: something that means players can WIN or LOSE but that it has to do with the actions they take, more than random factors (such as card positions).

Obviously stopping the Nazis from achieving 10 Strongholds is one thing. But I really wanted it to feel like an "all-out slaughter/struggle" when it comes to battling the Nazi armies. And during all of this battling, players MUST stop the building/launching combo of the V-Bomb.

I still think it's possible - just needs some fresh ideas as to how this 2nd phase is executed!

questccg
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I really believe

I think this "mash-up" can really work. As with any "mash-up", you need to balance out the game and borrow some mechanics (those that work). The end result is a completely different game with only SOME similarities.

Take for example Pandemic: I am only interested in the *escalation* mechanics. So how the Infection deck works to create more game TENSION. I could care less that the game is about creating four (4) cures to win the game.

And so it's a fine line of figuring out HOW to make the pieces work together and what are the necessary part used in the end result.

BTW hope you are all having a good time designing new and fascinating games!

questccg
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Curious

chriswhite wrote:
the players are competing against each other to uncover the missiles, right?

Did you ask this because if I DID have competing players, it might be MORE POSSIBLE to make this "mash-up" work???

Like if the Player's Deck get's dealt to each player (evenly), players could go travel to locations and try to "uncover" the secret plans. And the OPPONENTS could dismiss the location... And then it would be the OPPOSITE, it would be a RUSH to FIND the two (2) locations (or three - a variant).

Something like "Research Facility" (where the plans are designed), "Factory" (where the V-Bombs are made) and "Launch Site" (Where the V-Bombs take flight)...!

kos
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Less choices or Guess Who

42 locations to explore seems like a lot. You could reduce the number of locations that need to be explored (even if there are all 42 locations on the map), for example:
- If using cards, at the start of the game deal out 20 cards face up. This means there are only 20 left to be explored.
- If using tokens on the map (where 2 tokens are "real" and the others are fakes), only place 20 tokens instead of placing 42 tokens.

Another different approach would be to include "Guess Who" in your mashup. Each location has a 3 different attributes (e.g. coast, forest, train station), and by performing certain actions in the game you can get clues as to where the bomb and launch site are.
- E.g. You draw an Informant card which says, "I heard that the bomb is near a forest". That lets you cross off all the locations which don't have a forest.

Once you have identified all 3 attributes of the bomb location, you will have maybe 5 possible locations on the map which match all of those attributes. At that point you could use some other randomization technique (e.g. placing tokens on the map with 1 real token) to identify the bomb.

Regards,
kos

questccg
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OMG - it WILL work!!!

questccg wrote:
Did you ask this because if I DID have competing players, it might be MORE POSSIBLE to make this "mash-up" work???

So I have figured it out! chriswhite's suggestion of player competing against each other is THE KEY!

Let me explain:

1-Out of 51 locations, 3 will be set aside and are the components to the ultra secret V-Bomb plans.
2-That leaves 48 locations in the Players Deck. That divides well into 2, 3, 4 and 6. So those are the # of players for the game to be even and fair.
3-Each player is dealt 48 / # of players Player Deck *Location* cards.
4-Players check off on their ULTRA SECRET location minder sheet the locations they have received.
5-All those location cards then get reshuffled into the Players Deck.
6-On each player's turn, they draw TWO (2) Location cards and reveal them to the rest of the group.

What this does is that AT SOME POINT in the game, ONE (1) player will know the three (3) locations before all the others. And that player will WIN the game. This will NATURALLY occur BEFORE the Player's Deck gets *exhausted* (the problem I was forseeing).

BUT at the same time, players must COLLABORATE to ensure that the Nazi forces do not overwhelm the board with Nazi strongholds. Remember 10 Strongholds and EVERYONE LOSES.

SO the key is CO-OPETITION, a mix between co-operation and competition.

questccg
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Accuracy

The key thing is *accuracy*. You need to be observant when players reveal their cards and if you had 8 cards (6 player game), the EARLIEST that a player can *know* the locations is four (4) turns before the end of the Player's Deck.

As for card counts, 48 locations isn't too much. It's not as if you need to TRAVEL to these locations, all you do is DEDUCE the locations. Unlike Clue where you actually need to be in the correct room.

48 locations boils down to 26 turns. Winning 4 turns earlier means after 22 turns. That's 85% into the game. This is not unreasonable.

Another *INTERESTING* option is trying to figure out WHO will WIN and force everyone to LOSE! Haha. Some players might want to play like that if they get the feeling that a player is close to victory!

christof
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How will this mix of

How will this mix of competition and collaboration work out with the story of the game? The Allied Forces were, well, allied... they shared information and worked together.

questccg
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There are allies and then there are allies...

christof wrote:
How will this mix of competition and collaboration work out with the story of the game? The Allied Forces were, well, allied... they shared information and worked together.

Well players MUST share information regarding Location cards. And generally, most of the time, the players work together to prevent the Nazis from taking full control.

So I guess it's got to do more with *bragging rights* when talking about who wins the war.

The Americans claim that THEY WON the war. I am only going to focus on Europe and not have any North American locations in the game. And this makes the game somewhat fictitious.

Zag24
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Just luck?

questccg wrote:
What this does is that AT SOME POINT in the game, ONE (1) player will know the three (3) locations before all the others. And that player will WIN the game. This will NATURALLY occur BEFORE the Player's Deck gets *exhausted*

But again, this has the problem that it's just luck. That player wins not because of anything clever he has done, just because he was the one fore-ordained to win as long as they didn't all lose by letting the Nazis get out of hand.

How about a slightly different spin? I think I'm eliminating the 'Clue' aspect of the game, but hear me out.

The theme is an alternate reality, in which the Nazis did develop the V-bomb, but no effective delivery system. (Perhaps it is too large and heavy for their aircraft -- whatever.) Also, the materials to create these bombs are extremely limited, so they've only been able to create a small number of them. They have secretly placed the bombs in 3 locations, and they are set to explode if the Allies take one of those location, which will completely wipe out the invading force.

The win condition remains as just keeping the Nazis from developing an overwhelming force (measured in number of strongholds). The big tension is that the Allies can not afford to commit too many forces to taking any one stronghold, because that might be where one of the bombs has been placed. If they commit their whole army at one point and it is wiped out by a V-Bomb, the Nazis will walk to victory. On the other hand, if they don't commit enough forces, they'll just lose that battle.

You could make the decision of whether or not a particular stronghold has a bomb be based on initial draw of cards, though then it is hard to find a way to check after an attack is launched. You also could make it based on a roll of dice, such that it gets more and more likely as the game goes on (e.g. if 3d6 plus the turn number is > 18, there is a bomb). This puts a fundamental limit to the game, because eventually the Allies know that every time they take a stronghold, the entire invading force will be wiped out, once it is 100% that a city will have one of the bombs.

questccg
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Clue is about LUCK...

Zag24 wrote:
But again, this has the problem that it's just luck. That player wins not because of anything clever he has done, just because he was the one fore-ordained to win as long as they didn't all lose by letting the Nazis get out of hand.

I'm not saying it is perfect. But TURN ORDER also has a factor in determining the winner. I believe it's NOT as if the game can be STOPPED and another player can intervene just because he knows the winning sequence. He must wait his turn before revealing the locations.

I don't know, would you say Clue is more luck-based??? In a way it is, because on your turn you can reveal ONE or more of the secret cards. And that can affect who will win the game. So it's LUCK based on what accusations get called out...

This is luck based on how the Player's Deck is built (and shuffled).

Zag24 wrote:
How about a slightly different spin? I think I'm eliminating the 'Clue' aspect of the game, but hear me out.

I really wanted Clue to be part of the "mash-up" even if it is in a variant form... It has a GOOD element of TENSION, hoping to uncover the ultra secret V-Bomb plans... Towards the END of a game, there will be SO MUCH tension:

1-Firstly fighting off the Nazis and ensuring that 10 Stronghold do not occur will be a highly challenging (and FUN) task.

2-Next seeing who will resolve the ultra secret plans is another aspect which will be filled with tension.

But playtesting will determine what fine tuning needs to be done. So far I am *excited* that Deck Exhaustion is not the end-all to winning the game. But as with Clue, there is an element of LUCK when it comes to winning!

questccg
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Based also on Pandemic

The other thing to NOT forget is this game is also based on "Pandemic".

Players who have played that game know that on many times the players LOSE the game to one of the diseases or to outbreaks or just running out of Player Deck cards.

So don't think that "OBJECTIVE #1: Fighting off the Nazis" will be an easy task. On the contrary this will be TOUGH and require much coordination among the players. And hopefully like in Pandemic, players will lose the game most of the time...

I want this to be a challenging game - where players want to go another round to try to WIN the game.

Playtesting will show if the Player's Deck can be exhausted in which ALL players LOSE also. This has to be playtested to see if it is at all possible.

MarkD1733
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Another idea to consider for revealing hidden information

I didn't read the entire thread, so bear with me if I repeat something that someone else has already contributed. Also, if this strictly cooperative or even co-opetitive, then the mechanic would need to be randomized, but if it is asymmetric competitive (like 1 Nazi vs all the other players) then this mechanic could involve player selections).

How about another mechanic where ALLIED scientists are trying to break a code like the ENIGMA code thing. This design is represented by some matrix of cards or tiles, let's say it is 4 pairs, or maybe a 3x3 grid. Whether it is programmed each turn or a specific action that someone does, the tiles/cards get revealed along the way and the complete sets/combinations clue you in as to the hidden locations. For example...

Let's say that the locations selected are represented by 3 symbols...any of which could be A,B,C, or D. And no location is represented the same way--each is unique. So LONDON is ABD, and PARIS is BCD, and so on. Someone can figure out the UNIQUE combinations mathematically to see if this give enough mystery..

At the start of the game, you have 4 sets of tiles that have exactly one of those codes (A,B,C, or D) on each tile. You place place them down but during the game, you simply reveal the 3x3. This grid now makes a 3-digit code (or two codes--one vertical, one horizontal). Eventually, all but 1 symbol in each column is revealed--that's the code. If you get what I am driving at, this plays as a sub-game like Clue, but also like the game Mastermind which was color/position code breaking game.

By revealing a tile here and there you can potentially narrow the choices, making the players start to zero in...but there are two locations. You could have 2 matrices, one of the factory, the other for the launch site. If one is a more secret location, then the matrix could be a 4x4. Or you could use the same matrix and simply use one code down and another code across...but depending on how you randomize the tiles onto the matrix, you could end up with a greater (and therefore tougher) number of codes to potentially figure out.

While there are a lot of holes in this concept because I just explained it off the cuff, I hope it helps you with your design nonetheless.

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