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Fresh eyes on this

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Joined: 11/24/2009

Hi everyone. I have a game that I'm about to submit to Hippodice. I have never been published, but had a couple of publishers hold onto my previous Hippodice submissions (Alea with my third place one year "Midgard Maurauders", and in the top 10 before that "Megalopolis" Abacus Games), and then return them with no explaination of what they didn't like. I'm hoping I do well this year, but was hoping one or more of you would look at my rules and picture (links above) and tell me what you think. My own self criticism is that maybe a publisher will look at ALL those pieces and roll their eyes. It has been playtested quite a bit, but with a limited pool (as were my other 2 submissions that did okay). So fresh eyes looking would be appreciated. I'll return the favor if you have something in the works.


Joined: 06/07/2012
I had a quick read through

I had a quick read through your rules and they conveyed a relatively clear explanation of the game. However, I did notice a few things that might be changed.

The list of game contents doesn’t identify a number of pieces used in the game and some of the pieces are referenced by other names in the rules.

I’m guessing the game action boards are the ‘game palettes’

The contents indicate 75 triangular tiles – but they don’t mention what they represent. Do they represent a singular set of game objects or do they contain a number of game object sets?

It could be that you’ve listed them as a group in order to play down the component list. However, it might be nice to provide some clarity in relation to what they feature.

Looking at the list it doesn’t appear to be super costly in terms of the components required. Punched counter sheets are ok and you can fit a healthy amount on an A4 sheet. The game doesn’t seem to need any custom dice and stock d6 in variant colours can be found quite easily. Wooden huts can be sourced as a stock provision – or replaced by blocks. Camels can also be found and the river pawn could be a boat.

All told, while the list of components is larger than a simple card only game, I can’t really see anything that would automatically scream ‘stop the publishing presses’ from a manufacturing point of view. Although the large number of wooden pieces will certainly up the production costs.

The bidding – a few niggles here.

The ownership of the high chief tile is a little bit muddled. In one place it says that the tile goes to the player who is acting as the chief if it isn’t won via bidding. In the building action descriptions it says it goes to the player with the court building, or is there more than 1 court building?

Tied results are addressed, but the provision has potential gaps. 1,2,3,4,5,6 plus a blank die beats 1,2,3,4,5,6. Okay, but what happens if two or more player have 1,2,3,4,5,6 and no blank dice is present or multiple players have lesser straights of the same value. In respect to the other bidding resolvers, an equal number of identical dice or an identical number of dice with exactly the same pip score, who wins then?

You could make it so the chief wins or decides all ties, or you could have it that the player who placed their bid first (in turn order) wins the tie. Talking of turn order, this brings up something I noticed which puzzled me a little.

The turn order for the bidding starts on the round chiefs left and passes through the players. A left start will result in an anti-clockwise progression. The turn order for the building phase is then given as a clockwise progression. Is this, one way and then the other direction for turn order, an intentional inclusion to balance turn order over the two phases?

Borrowing dice – I like the inclusion of the borrowed dice. Is this a mechanism for reducing the random results from dice rolling?

I think it would be a good idea to list the cost of ‘turned over’ dice counters instead of detailing the calculation. Calculations put people off because they mean work. With only 6 possible outcomes you could simply list the costs (1x1=1, 2x2=4, 3x3=9, 4x4=15, 5x5=25, 6x6=36).

Or for clarity, 1 token turned over costs 1, 2 tokens cost 4, 3 tokens cost 9, 4 tokens cost 16, five tokens cost 25 and 6 tokens costs 36.

End of round scoring – mistake (iafter) happens after the Kings pad every time

A few niggles here, first of all it’s the hut scoring, is the value of 7 important somehow?

With four players that will throw up some funny numbers in terms of tie breakers. 7/2 = 3.5 points, 7/3 = 2.33 points, 7/4= 1.75 points. It might be my love of equality and round numbers, but it makes the scoring seem a bit wonky. And players generally don’t like to do maths, even simple maths, if there isn’t a sound reason for having them do so.

What about 6 points for a single score, 3 points each when two are tied, 2 points each when three are tied, and 1 point each when all four players are tied?

Next up, is the tree, well and building scoring. I think I understand it. The completed sections/areas (those surrounded by walls) are compared. The area with the most trees is then used to determine the actual scoring. The players score 1 point for each district they own in this area. Then it all gets a bit confusing.

I’m going to guess some values to give an example.

A section is identified. In this section the blue player has 4 districts, the red player 3 and the yellow player 2 – all with trees.

The blue player would score 4 for their own districts and then another 3 points because red has fewer districts and a final 2 points because yellow also has fewer districts. This would give the blue player a total of 9 points.

The red player would receive 3 points, and because yellow has fewer districts than red a further 2 points. This would give the red player 5 points.

The yellow player would only score 2 points, because no other player has fewer trees.

I’m not sure this is even correct. It all seems a little muddled and unclear to me and the 'same as above' referencing irks me a little. It’s similar to when people use etc instead of taking the time to complete the portrayal of their thoughts. I could have gone to the trouble of doing a little more work, but I decided to take the easy way.

You could improve the clarity of this scoring information if you included some graphic examples. The problem with submitting the rules is that the readers only have those and a picture to work from to figure things out. When you actually have a game in hand you can read the rules and relate them to the visible pieces in front of you – which makes link forming a lot easier.

I think it would improve the overall clarity of your rules if you added example pictures, especially in the scoring and piece placement sections. In relation to the scoring aspect I talked about previously, you could use a different example for trees, wells and most buildings. This would remove the same as above (which I’ve never seen used in any rule document) with a brief summary and a graphic example. The same as above is replaced and the reader gets three easy to visualize scoring examples to work with.

Architect Buildings

The owning player must place one of his large buildings upon it. I presume this means a hut, because no other building pieces where listed in the contents. However, looking at the picture of the game I can see some large building pieces that definitely aren’t huts.

Which gives rise to a second question, what happens when a building is destroyed by raiders?

The rules state that the building tile is returned to the bag, but what happens to the large building on it?

Additionally, what happens when an area that isn’t walled in is destroyed by raiders - the tiles are returned to the bag, but what do the players do with the walls and huts?

And because this is a good place to include it – how can the players draw raider tiles when they aren’t in the draw bag?

The set up requires the 4 ‘C’ raider tiles to be placed next to the Raider area of the final board. There isn’t any indication that these tiles should be placed in the draw bag.

The contents also mention a river pawn. However, the only mention of a river pawn is in the King Board section under the sub heading raiders – the river pawn is returned to the left of the river pad.

Overall Niggles

Women buy and play games as well. So reading a rule sheet that uses only he and his instead of he/she and his/her is a little inconsiderate to the female gamers out there.

A lot of multiple name references are used in the rules, game boards are called boards,pads and palettes for example. It will make things easier to understand if you only use one term for each component and stick with it.

Hopefully these comments will help a little bit. If you make some changes and require me to read through the rules again I will happily do so.

Joined: 11/24/2009
Awesome thanks

Thank you very much BubbleChucks.
A lot of good catches.

I guess I've been working on it through so many revisions that many of those terms are interchangeable in my head. You did manage to figure out my scoring mechanism. Again, lot's of great comments, now that I've read them I'm going to start fixing; Except the he/she thing. Nothing against women and girls playing games, I just think it's an unnecessarily awkward way to try to appease the overly sensitive.


Joined: 07/02/2012
Gender assignment

Instead of "He or his / she or hers", consider using "They or theirs". Simple, yet not awkward.

Whitey's picture
Joined: 12/24/2010

One of the things I've seen done that seems to read well and I've used it myself is to alternate between male and female pronouns between sections or concepts. I.e. I may describe using dice as HE but have an example of dice use as SHE or keep it all HE and change to SHE when moving to card mechanics once dice are explained.

Joined: 06/07/2012
It entireley up to you, but

It entireley up to you, but either voodoodogs or whiteys suggestion would work well.

If you really want to eliminate as many potential points of objection as possible its sometimes necessary to appease the overly sensitive. After all, women don't just buy and play games - sometimes they judge game design competitions or fulfil important roles in publishing houses :)

Joined: 11/24/2009
Gender sensitivity training.

Thank you for the suggestions. Both are pretty good. Let me tell you why it is going to stay "He" for now. In German (which these Hippodice people are) the noun "Spieler" (Player) is masculine, and would be less confusing with the masculine pronoun in English of "He". I know who I have communicated with in the past was very good with his English, but I don't want to assume everyone is as good. Plus, it makes it simpler. I actually speak fluent German but write it only in a labored fashon (game terminology can be tough), so I hope to have the German translation ready by the time they ask for my Prototype in December (Crossing my fingers). None-the-less it is an interesting discussion. :)


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