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Set collection mechanic advice

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NewbieDesigner
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Visualize a 4X4 grid of cards that are collected each round (75 in all). The grid layout is important for thematic purposes but will likely have to be modified for number of players, e.g., 4X6 for three players. The cards will have various scoring symbols on them for scoring points.

I'm looking for unique ideas on how these cards can be collected. Right now, I'm strongly leaning towards a "take a row or play a card" mechanic similar to one found in Coloretto. Within this structure, I have two ideas:

1. Flip a card anywhere on the grid or claim a column of cards (unflipped & unclaimed cards in the column remain until the next round).

or

2. Play a card to a column or claim a column (similar to Cardcassonne). Thus, the grid will form as people play cards albeit unevenly. As in Cardcassonne, all cards will be played and revealed (unlike scenerio 1) each round but some unclaimed cards will carry over to the next round.

Visually, the first mechanic works better but the second adds more strategy and possibly tension since you can determine when and where the cards go.

Any other ideas on how these cards might be collected? With 75 cards, I think 3-5 cards (depending on number of players) per player collected each round should work.

Also, I'm not sure how the last round should be handled in "flip-a-card" scenario 1 since the number of cards collected each round will differ. Maybe a last round card buried in the deck near the bottom?

Big thanks in advance for any advice.

NewbieDesigner
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follow up question

I did some playtesting last night and it went relatively well overall with scenerio #1 where one flips a card or claims a column. However, I didn't like how it didn't really matter what card in each column was flipped. For thematic reasons (unique designed meeples will go on claimed cards during each round and would be designed to enhance the theme), I would prefer that the cards get claimed in a more distributed way across the board. So next time I am going to test where you can flip a card, or claim a column OR row. That way, the flipping element becomes more distributed across the board. I wonder if an additional option of claiming a diagonal path would be too spatial? Any other thoughts on how cards can be collected from the 4X4 grid keeping in mind that 3 or 4 a round per person should be the target?

Markus Hagenauer
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It´s hard to say what fits

It´s hard to say what fits best without knowig the game.
So some ideas to make the mechanic more unique and maybe more strategy is involved.

1. You only can claim colums / rows that fit some criterias (at least two different symbols for example)

2. Or, if there are exactly two fliped cards in a row, you claim the unflipped instead

3. Add some more effect to the flipping. For example, whenever a face down card is between 2 identic symbols, turn it face up

I don´t know if any of this ideas fits your game, but maybe they are some food for thought.

Good luck!

dnddmdb
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Diagonal is Iffy

I agree with Markus. You will need some sort of interesting mechanic to facilitate your card taking. The symbols idea is nice, but you need to make it so that there are some alternatives. Perhaps the matching symbols makes set collection easier, and is not a necessary element to take a card.

Diagonal card taking can be tricky, perhaps a bit too spatial. Perhaps 2-by-2 card taking? Just a suggestion.

Some more info about the theme of your game would help.

DnDDmDb

NewbieDesigner
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more info

Thanks for the input. Let me give some more detail about the cards (sorry about being paranoid about saying what the theme is). There will be four types of cards (5 primary suits, 1 special suit) that will be available to collect:

1. A majority of the cards will have Bohnanza/Archaeology style points scoring. 1-3-5-7-etc. The amount of cards in each suit will be the same unlike those games, i.e., no cards are more rare than others.

2. Suits of cards showing a symbol allowing you to dig through another deck of additional cards in order to collect matching sets (something like treasure pieces from Tikal) if possible. You get an additional bonus if you collect a set of 3. You'll be able to take two cards from the top, keep one, and put the other at the bottom of the pile.

3. A lesser amount of the suit cards will have -1 points on them. The rows and columns that have these will become less attractive when these come out.

4. A special suit (6th) that starts negative (think Keltis scoring) but turns positive the more you collect. You get -5 points if you don't collect any and dig out of this hole the more you collect.

I have in mind a light, family/filler game (ages 8+), so I don't want to get too clever.

Thanks again for any other collection ideas.

dnddmdb
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Sounds Very Cool

Nice idea. Will regular suit cards be in the additional deck? Or will they be completely different sets of cards? You seem to have enough going on so that simply row or column collection should suffice. Plus, since it's a family/filler, the row and column collection should be enough. Will collecting the -1 cards still count towards scoring in that suit (So if a set of 3 Suit A cards gets you 5 points, then can you have 2 Suit A cards and 1 Suit A -1 card to get 4 points?

This seems very cool. Good luck.

NewbieDesigner
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thanks

No, the additional deck is just a separate set of cards that are pictures of items that complement the theme. I think you are right in that row/column should suffice & I'm looking forward to testing it again this weekend. I went to Michaels today and purchased some "crafty" parts that will be used to claim the cards. :-) All the testing has been 4-player mode. I have to figure out how two and three player will play. Should I keep the 4X4 and still allow just one row/column per player, or 2 rows/columns per player in the 2/3 player game (6X4 grid in 3-player game)? Not sure yet.

Thanks for the positive feedback- much appreciated!

sedjtroll
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And now for something completely different

This might be totally different from what you have in mind, but I thought it might be cool if in the beginning of the game, players are playing down 2 cards into "the grid," then in midgame, they're playing 1 and picking up 1, and finally in the very late game maybe they're picking up 2 cards. So you'd build the grid, then take it down, with the aim of collecting sets.

So how might I go about this? Off the top of my head:

Components:

2 Player pawns per player
108 cards

  • 81 Symbol cards (use a SET deck)
  • 27 Action cards

Deal some of the cards in the game out to players, put the rest in a draw pile.

On your turn you have 3 action points to spend on the following - but can choose each option a maximum of twice each turn:

  • Draw 1 card
  • Play 1 card
  • Move one of your pawns from card to card
  • Pick up the card where your pawn sits

DRAW A CARD

Simply draw a card from the deck, these cards will either have symbols that you will want to collect, or special actions you can play, such as:

  • "Displace an opponent's pawn"
  • "Swap the position of 2 pawns on the board"
  • "Gain 3 additional Action Points this turn"

PLAY A CARD

Play a card from your hand:

  • Symbol cards are played into the grid on the table, maybe you have to play it adjacent to an edge or a card already in play.
    • You cannot play a card on top of another card, nor on top of a pawn (or at least, not on top of your own pawn)
  • Action cards are played, their effect resolved immediately, then discarded.

MOVE A PAWN

Move one of your pawns orthogonally (or possibly diagonally) to an adjacent card. It might be cool if pawns only move orthogonally, and then there's an Action card that stays in play and allows you to move diagonally.

PICK UP A CARD

Collect a card that one of your pawns is standing on.

  • You cannot collect a card where another player's pawn stands.

Game End

The game is over when the last card is picked up.

Winning

The winner is the player with the most complete sets. A set is 3 cards which, for each of the 4 attributes (Color, Number, Shape, Shading), are all the same or all different.

NewbieDesigner
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suggestion

Very cool ideas, Seth, thanks. Unfortunately, it doesn't work well with the theme I have in mind but I may tinker with some of those ideas later down the line. That is, if you don't publish your own version. :-)

rcjames14
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Diagonals

It seems to me that there isn't any particular reason why you couldn't use the diagonal directions. Especially since the longest diagonals run past each other, and late movers may end up with three cards no matter what they choose, it seems to me that you should be able to collect cards/tokens in any direction you want.

As far as the scoring mechanism goes, it seems to me that there may be one too many scoring elements. You have a bohnanza progression, a negative value card, a set that you need to collect in order to not get negative points and a separate deck to collect from. Coloretto uses three: positive geometric progression, negative geometric progression and flat rate points. Poison uses three: negative points for potions, canceling out for the most, more negative points for poison. As a casual game, I think you could get away with three which are a little more integrated with each other as opposed to four where they operate very independently of each other.

NewbieDesigner
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one too many

Thanks for the additional feedback. I think you may be right about being one too many scoring opportunities. The one that I would drop would be the set you need to avoid negative points. I may ditch that (most unthematic one) depending on the feedback of the group I play with and perhaps mix up the negative value cards (-1, -2's & -3's) some more. Also, I plan for each player to have 4 player pieces each to designate the card they claim each round. However, there are times when players only collect 2 or 3 cards each round, so perhaps the players who pass before other players can use their unplayed pieces at the end of the round to claim flipped, uncollected cards. This would be a risk since all flipped cards would have to be claimed so you may get stuck with a negative card if those are the only ones left. But perhaps there will be some good ones left that didn't get claimed as well. I'm worried that the diagonal option would make the choices less constraining and easier to avoid negative cards but that may not be a problem if all cards have to be claimed based on when you passed and how many unplayed pieces are left.

rcjames14
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Claiming Cards

Do you need pawns at all?

As I understand it, you lay out sixteen cards each round facedown in a 4x4 grid. On your turn, you must flip a card and then you may claim all the flipped cards along one row (horizontal, vertical and/or diagonal). Unflipped cards along the line that you claim remain there for other players to claim and the game continues... but once you claim a row you cannot participate any more.

So, players have an incentive to hold off to the end in order to see everything but if they do that they are likely to also miss out on the opportunity to claim 4 cards. However, if someone really likes three cards along a row, they can also claim it early without risking what is under the fourth card... and because you don't want to set up players to claim four good cards, there will be an incentive to flip cards along staggered dimensions unless you specifically want one row for yourself. So, in my mind, there are a lot of things to consider regarding where you flip cards and when you claim cards. Adding a diagonal claim to this should not change these constraints to player decision... and in fact, it may allow people to evade cards they don't want. But, often at the cost of not acquiring as many cards.

As far as negative cards are concerned... one of the nifty aspects of Coloretto is that you can poison someone else's well by loading them up with cards that will end up counting against them. But, you can't do it with too many cards of the same type otherwise they may simply claim those instead. So, the late game gets fairly tactical (even if strategically straightforward).

Given the similarities already in how cards are collected, I don't think you want to adopt the same scoring mechanism from Coloretto. But, it does suggest a problem with your negative cards. They aren't really integrated in a very nuanced way... they are simply cards you don't want.... no one wants them. In Coloretto, it is often the case that the cards you don't want someone else does want. So, players have to decide whether to try to keep certain cards for themselves or give them to players who don't want them.

Poison also has a mechanism that makes it so that the same card can be both desirable (if you have the most) or undesirable (if you don't). So... it's not clear where you should collect cauldrons or not. The Poison cards are just negative... but that is necessary to balance the desire to collect as many cards as you can and players have a lot of control over where they put the poison. So, I would encourage you to introduce a mechanism that integrates positive and negative points more dynamically.

I mentioned two of the set collection scoring systems, but there are also others:
Most of the least (encourages the opposite of single color collection and really only works with 5 or less color)
Poker (allows both numbers and suits, balances the value of each card fairly well and a good deal of swinginess)
Rummy (allows both numbers and suits and weights, encourages the collection of certain cards over others and is relatively accumulatively stable)
Perhaps people can think of others.

Of these, I think Rummy is the only one which allows some kind of negative score for incomplete sets. So, you might consider how the game might look with some kind of Rummy type structure. Especially if you want to keep it light.

NewbieDesigner
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pawn effect

No, the pawns are optional but if they are designed the way I have in mind, then the effect will look really compelling. I just sent you a private email explaining the theme and purpose of the pieces even though they aren’t mandatory.

On a turn you must flip a card OR claim a row. You can’t do both on the same turn. I think there is more tension this way. I’m not sure how much this changes the dynamics of what you understood it to be but perhaps a bit.

Let me know what you think of the theme without mentioning specifics and thanks again for your thoughts.

NewbieDesigner
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further thoughts

I've been thinking some more about what you said here:

"But, it does suggest a problem with your negative cards. They aren't really integrated in a very nuanced way... they are simply cards you don't want.... no one wants them. "

Now that I sent you the theme, do you have any more thoughts on the negative cards considering what they represent in the game (I agree it's not nuansed but I'm not sure of another way handle that particular "event")?

Also, I'm wondering if ditching the quasi Bohnanza scoring element in favor of squared scoring might be a better way to go. With 7 available cards in each suit, I think capping it at 4x4 (16 points) or 5X5 (25 points) might be ideal. Collected cards are open, so this way, other players would have an incentive not to let other players collect too many cards. Or maybe I shouldn't cap it? The ability to get 49 points seems a bit high though.

Finally, I think the "flip and decide to take or not" is worth playtesting along with diagonal collection since the 4X4 grid is limiting and players going later in the round need more options.

rcjames14
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Scoring & Negativity

Given the theme, it makes sense that you have non-events more than negative events. If everyone were able to claim four cards per turn, then a non-event would be a negative event because of the opportunity cost. And, provided that you could only score a few of the colors, even claiming another color could represent a lost opportunity. If you would need all your turns/tokens to claim the maximum score possible, then losing just one to an off color would be undesirable.

But, whereas certain constraints may be incorporated into the design, there are parts of the mechanic which do not support such an opportunity cost dynamic. Notably, the fact that claiming four often means that other players can only claim three or less, and the fact that if you claim an off-color, you deprive anyone collecting that color of the opportunity to acquire it. So... there is strict competition and this form of competition requires that you somehow create a mechanic that bundles the good with the bad.

As I mentioned, there is the Coloretto mechanic: score three colors, all the rest count against you. Or the Rummy mechanic: score your sets, all non-set cards count against you. In each of these cases, you don't want to take extra cards if you don't have to so other players can act much more strategically to either poison the well or count on the ability to collect the cards they want. So... you might consider these two types of scoring methods.

Any non-linear scoring system (like squares) with an exponent > 1 is going exacerbate marginal differences in play whereas any non-linear scoring system (like log functions) with an exponent < 1 is going to dampen marginal difference in play. What do you want to encourage? Bohnanza is a linear system with a minimum threshold. Coloretto is a geometric system with a cap. Rummy is linear with a minimum threshold. Poison is a negative linear system with a cliff. Hearts is a negative linear system with two special cases and an inversion.

NewbieDesigner
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thanks

Lots more to think about, and at this point, I think I just need to playtest some of these idea to see what feels fun and elegant.

sedjtroll
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NewbieDesigner wrote:I've

NewbieDesigner wrote:
I've been thinking some more about what you said here:

"But, it does suggest a problem with your negative cards. They aren't really integrated in a very nuanced way... they are simply cards you don't want.... no one wants them. "

Now that I sent you the theme, do you have any more thoughts on the negative cards considering what they represent in the game (I agree it's not nuansed but I'm not sure of another way handle that particular "event")?

Also, I'm wondering if ditching the quasi Bohnanza scoring element in favor of squared scoring might be a better way to go. With 7 available cards in each suit, I think capping it at 4x4 (16 points) or 5X5 (25 points) might be ideal. Collected cards are open, so this way, other players would have an incentive not to let other players collect too many cards. Or maybe I shouldn't cap it? The ability to get 49 points seems a bit high though.

Finally, I think the "flip and decide to take or not" is worth playtesting along with diagonal collection since the 4X4 grid is limiting and players going later in the round need more options.


We might be better equipped to comment if we knew the purpose and theme of the game.

I think you're right about Flip OR Collect - it's the basic mechanism of Coloretto (and thereby Zooloretto).

NewbieDesigner
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theme

This will still be a bit vague but assume the grid represents a game of target practice with the miss cards representing a missed shot for the intended target. You will primarily be aquiring sets of targets you hit. The side deck that players will be collecting from (see description above) will be a "treasure" deck that will consist of "booty" or rewards for hitting certain targets. Hope that helps a bit.

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