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[Feedback please] The Trick to Survival - A semi-coop trick-taking card game about survival

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MayuPolo
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Joined: 11/12/2012

THE TRICK TO SURVIVAL
A semi-cooperative trick-taking game about survival for 2 to 5 players

Setting & Theme
Flora and Fauna have declared war on humanity. Pets all over the world started attacking and killing their owners. Whales turned on their hunters and started coordinated attacks against whaling boats, passenger ships, etc. Deadly mold outbreaks all over the world lead to millions of deaths. Algae found their way into the world largest drinking water reservoirs. Diseases that had been forgotten resurfaced over night. It seems that Nature has had enough of the abuse inflicted on it by humans and decided to get rid of what it considers to be nothing more than a virus attacking it.

In “The Trick To Survival” players take on the role of regular people who has managed to survive nature’s relentless attacks. Whether it is was fate, the will of a greater power or just coincidence, the players all ended up together and have to make their way down river to a safe location. However, humans are flawed and when it comes to survival, people tend to show their worst characteristics.

The main mechanic of the game is “trick-taking”. Players take turns playing cards from their hand into the “trick” in the hopes of gaining resources necessary to survive and possible become the leader of the group. However, most likely, not everyone will survive. Once a player dies, Nature takes over, and they will actively seek to prevent the alive players from reaching their goal.

Goal of the Game
The general goal of the game is to reach the safe location which is several weeks of travel away (represented by several rounds of play). However each player has a character trait that is kept secret from other players which may modify this general win condition. If things go badly and a player does, they are not eliminated, instead they become “one with nature” and now actively try to prevent the other players from succeeding.

Feedback Request
If this sounds at all interesting to you I would be hugely greatful if you can read through the first rules draft for the game and comment away on things you don't understand, find confusing or broken, etc.

Here is the link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10RiPb3CZqC-5h_WZ26hgdavVBVPoEMtOJdrT...

Thanks in advance!

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
A few comments

Looks interesting, but too complex from just reading it. However, I think it is the sort of complexity that you just need to play though a couple of rounds to get it.

First off, I love the idea of a co-op, but if one player dies, he becomes hostile to the rest. This makes for that much more incentive to keep your fellows alive, and adds some extra drama when you fail to do so.

"Each alive player must follow the suit played by the leader, unless they play a trump (a card that matches the suit of the revealed challenge card)." What if the leader plays a trump card? Also, in night phase, how do they know what suit the leader played? When deciding who won the trick, do trump cards automatically beat the suit led (as I might expect from the term "trump")? I don't quite get the reason for your interplay between the led suit and the challenge suit. I would think you'd just say that everyone must play a card in the revealed challenge suit, if they can.

Do dead players play cards at all? (In the description later of dead players, it sound like yes. But what is the point of them playing cards? -- ok, reading on, it says that they can win the trick, and then the live players don't get their resources. Ouch.)

In the modify cards step, do you only modify your own? Or can I change the suit of someone else's card? If the latter, can dead players modify other people's cards? It seems a little to easy for them to sabotage a challenge if they can.

Even if you never use resource tokens to modify cards, it sounds as if, on average, you receive at most 4 each round but spend 6. They're going to be gone pretty quickly. Do people actually survive this game, ever? :)

Shelter suit action says that Players can only have one shelter token at a time, but the dead player action says "Target player with less than 4 shelter tokens ..."

Is it the new leader or the old one who distributes the bonus resources after a success?

What are some of the character traits? Are there any for which I would not want to reach the safe house? (It sounds like no.) Are there any for which the character trait is still meaningful after I'm dead, or are they all for living players only?

Considering the difficulty of getting resources, I think you might lighten up on the role-based exchange. You might say that each role has one target resource and one source resource. They can convert the source to the target one-for-one, or they can convert any two of any other resource to one of their target. Of course, this doesn't work if players are allowed to exchange freely.

Speaking of which, you say, "Dead players can only trade with other dead players and alive players can only trade with other alive players." but I didn't notice any other mention of trading. When can you trade and are there restrictions on it?

MayuPolo
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Joined: 11/12/2012
Thank you so much for all the

Thank you so much for all the feedback!

Zag24 wrote:
Looks interesting, but too complex from just reading it. However, I think it is the sort of complexity that you just need to play though a couple of rounds to get it.

Cheers! Yes I definitely think this needs a lot of playtesting. I've only been able to do some solo playtests so far, but am hoping to get some people from work to test it next week.

Zag24 wrote:
First off, I love the idea of a co-op, but if one player dies, he becomes hostile to the rest. This makes for that much more incentive to keep your fellows alive, and adds some extra drama when you fail to do so.

Cheers! :)

Zag24 wrote:
Do dead players play cards at all? (In the description later of dead players, it sound like yes. But what is the point of them playing cards? -- ok, reading on, it says that they can win the trick, and then the live players don't get their resources. Ouch.)

Yes, dead players can also play their lowest cards in order to prevent the alive players from reaching the target score in order to successfully complete the challenge.

Zag24 wrote:
In the modify cards step, do you only modify your own? Or can I change the suit of someone else's card? If the latter, can dead players modify other people's cards? It seems a little to easy for them to sabotage a challenge if they can.

Alive player can modify someone else's card not only their own. They could use this to change the card a dead player played or to prevent an alive player from winning the trick so that they can become the new leader. Or of course simply to help the group. :)

Zag24 wrote:
Even if you never use resource tokens to modify cards, it sounds as if, on average, you receive at most 4 each round but spend 6. They're going to be gone pretty quickly. Do people actually survive this game, ever? :)

Yes I need to balance this. Luckily it should be as easy as changing the starting resources or how many resources players get during a successful challenge, or both. Right now it seems too tough.

Zag24 wrote:
Shelter suit action says that Players can only have one shelter token at a time, but the dead player action says "Target player with less than 4 shelter tokens ..."

This is because I am using the same term for different concepts. :) The Shelter Token I am referring to in the suit action is basically like a "shield token" which is different from the shelter resource tokens. Need to rename that. Thanks!

Zag24 wrote:
Is it the new leader or the old one who distributes the bonus resources after a success?

The new one.

Zag24 wrote:
What are some of the character traits? Are there any for which I would not want to reach the safe house? (It sounds like no.) Are there any for which the character trait is still meaningful after I'm dead, or are they all for living players only?

Most of them require the player to reach the safe house, but usually have a selfish element as well. For example one card is: Addict. In order for this player to win they need to reach the safe house alive but also have the most Medicine Resource tokens. There is one that is kind of like a traitor card: Eco Terrorist. This player wins if they die and at least have the players (rounded up) are dead at the end of the game.

Zag24 wrote:
Considering the difficulty of getting resources, I think you might lighten up on the role-based exchange. You might say that each role has one target resource and one source resource. They can convert the source to the target one-for-one, or they can convert any two of any other resource to one of their target. Of course, this doesn't work if players are allowed to exchange freely.

Good suggestion. Will try it out!

Zag24 wrote:
Speaking of which, you say, "Dead players can only trade with other dead players and alive players can only trade with other alive players." but I didn't notice any other mention of trading. When can you trade and are there restrictions on it?

Gonna add a section for trading but basically you can trade at any time.

Thanks again!

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
If trading is free and any

If trading is free and any time, then allowing one-for-one role-based exchange won't work, because you can always trade, exchange, trade back, possibly going through a chain of exchanges to get the resource you want. As long as there is an established trading period which is either followed or preceded by the exchange period, this is probably not a problem. I would allow unlimited trading, followed by unlimited exchanges (but no more trading) just before each challenge is revealed. Or even, to make it more clear and give a little more room for strategy, trades, then reveal challenge, then exchanges.

Also, there's no need to restrict the trading between teams. If a dead player and a living player want to trade, one of them is probably making a mistake, so it won't happen much, anyway. But you shouldn't prevent them via the rules.

I don't recall if there is any way for dead players to get more resources, or what they can do with their resources. Since they're working for Mother Nature, now, it should be easy for them to get most resources but there are not a lot of effective things they can do with them. At least, that's how it feels to me. I do think that your game will benefit is there is a distinctly different "feel" to playing as a living player vs. a dead one. Of course, you don't want being a dead player to be more fun that being a living one, or people will just want to die.

Hmmm. One other thing: If the dead players "win" if the living players don't make it to the sanctuary, then won't they all be dead by then? (... which means everybody wins, which is boring). OTOH, you don't want to say that only the first player (or first two players, or whatever) to die get the victory if the co-op fails, because that will give incentive to be the first to die. It needs to be more of a consolation prize than a victory; I'm not sure how you'll spin that, exactly, but I still like the basic idea.

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