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Bower's Game Corner review!

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chris_mancini
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I just received the video review for the game I'm planning to Kickstart later this year. Forrest Bower of Bower's Game Corner as many of you know offers honest and objective reviews, and he certainly delivers that here with my simple party-style dice game "Scrambo."

Anyways I wanted to post for the community to watch and offer comments:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI8w1L8PvJw

Thanks!

Tedthebug
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Good review

That was a good & fair review. My daughter was watching & thinking it was easy until he explained the red dice, then she was complaining "oh no, that's to stressful" :D

Good luck,
Sean

chris_mancini
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It's interesting how divided

It's interesting how divided the "stress" element is perceived. For me and most who tested the game, it's the very thing that makes it appealing. Taking something that should be easy, matching a category to a letter, is made more difficult by the presence of the timer dice.

I tested with a group of 3 kids ages 11 and 12, and they loved the timed play, so I don't think it's a matter of age so much as personal preference. They also came up with the rule of rolling the timer dice multiple times in order to make the turns longer, reducing some of the stress and allowing more time to think; so some of the most impactful testing feedback came from these young players!

There's a history of very successful mainstream games - Pictionary, Perfection, Boggle, etc. - that use timed turns and the pressure they apply as a key mechanic. Scrambo has been designed specifically to attract that casual mainstream market, so I'm confident the game works for that player.

questccg
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Rule Variant

To "reduce" the amount of "stress", you could have players roll ONE (1) Timer dice at a time.

So instead of "BAM" getting three (3) Timers your first roll ... and pile on the stress. You only roll one (1) which may take a few rolls before you get your very first "Timer".

Just a quick idea - It could make the game appeal more to people who prefer LESS "stress".

Best of luck with your game!

Note: Is this the same method your Junior Gamers used???

chris_mancini
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They came up with the

They came up with the roll-all-at-once method, but once 5 clocks were rolled, they did another round of 5 clocks before the turn was over. Difficulty (and stress) could be set by the number of sets the timer player needed to roll; 1, 2 or 3.

I like the one-at-a-time idea and will test it; seems like it should add just a bit more time like the method the kids discovered.

The D6 timer dice are marked like this:
2 of them have 3 clock faces.
2 if them have 2 clock faces.
1 of them has 1 clock face.

The odds can also be adjusted, but as typically at least 2 clocks are rolled right out of the gate, it puts the pressure on immediately...which goes back to whether or not players find that appealing.

It's these odds that makes Scrambo different from other timer games, where the time allowed is always set (usually by a sand timer). The range I've found in a single "round" of rolling the timer dice is between 7-20 seconds, and typically it's the die with just 1 clock on it that gets successfully rolled last.

chris_mancini
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Bower's cons

One of the big "cons" from his review is that if a player forgets what the icons stand for mid-turn and has to reference the guide, it's difficult to locate the icon amidst the frantic gameplay. Currently, the icons are listed in alphabetical order, but I understand that that does little to help in this scenario.

As I've played this in slightly larger groups (4-8 players) someone always shouted out the category if a player got stuck, but if players are "every man for himself" and it's up to the player to figure out what category the icon stands for, this negative situation arises.

How would you adapt the game to help this? Perhaps a small number in the corner corresponding to the guide, so in a pinch you can cross-reference number to the icon? I think this would only be slightly faster than simply scanning the guide for the icon, but it could work.

Color-coding would end up being more expensive, and I wouldn't be able to price the game at $20, which I believe to be the ceiling for this little game. However I think numbers are one solution.

What else could solve this momentary lapse of memory?

questccg
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Umm... maybe this is not so obvious

Just write down the category... No icons. And be short with the descriptions. May force you to re-think some categories.

Like: "Movie Names" goes on two lines as below.

Movie
Names

That would be the simplest and most obvious decision.

Past
Presidents

(I would change to)

American
Presidents

Dog
Breeds

Board
Games

etc...

Note: I know you LIKE the ICONS for all 30 categories. It must have been an effort to select/design them.

BUT from a playability perspective - much simpler to have the categories on the dice themselves.

So you cut your rulebook in half - because now you don't need to explain the categories anymore... More obvious when playing, simpler to teach and no need to reference a chart while under pressure! :)

questccg
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Another improvement

Your timer dice are ALL the SAME color - yet have different amount of timers. As you said 2 have 3 timers, 2 have 2 timers and 1 has 1 timer.

I would COLOR-CODE the timer dice. My ideas on this are as follows:

-The 2 dice that have 3 timers should be GREEN. Player still has plenty of time to think up answers to the categories.

-The 2 dice that have 2 timers should be YELLOW. Player is starting to run out of time to think up answers...

-The 1 dice that has 1 timer should be RED. LAST CHANCE... You have almost run out of time.

Something like this could allow you to implement the ONE-DICE-AT-A-TIME variant rule where the roller rolls GREEN-YELLOW-RED. Much easier for everyone to understand also.

And of course you can asses your situation in the ALL-AT-ONCE roll if you notice the RED dice is already used by a timer, etc...

questccg
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Another comment

To distinguish between ONE-AT-A-TIME play and ALL-AT-ONCE play, perhaps you could have extra dice. Yeah, yeah you won't want to add components... But hear me out.

ONE-AT-A-TIME uses 5 COLOR-CODED dice (as per your original game).

ALL-AT-ONCE uses 5 RED dice ONLY with 1 Timer each. Makes it probably less stressfull and will probably make the game seem more natural.

And you can MARKET your game as TWO-GAMES-IN-ONE! NORMAL mode for those who don't want too much stress and EXPERT mode for those who love playing against the fast clock.

Wish you all the best with your game!

Note: I watched the complete video and re-visited different parts before commenting... I like have a video of the game - to me makes it more functional to review and understand...

Note #2: So basically you would add $2.00 (4 dice) worth of components - but your game now has two modes... All you need is 4 extra RED dice, since you already have 1.

chris_mancini
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Fair point...takes a lot of

Fair point...takes a lot of the visual appeal out of the game, but it certainly avoids confusion.

I haven't encountered all that much of this issue, as players are only asked to remember 5 categories at a time. Even the kids didn't have a problem with it after a couple turns. They were off playing on their own, and playing the game correctly, within 10 minutes.

This is also specifically why players can take as much time as they want after rolling the category dice to note them and remember them, THEN roll the letter to begin the game.

I think this is a problem at first, and likely to occur in the first few rounds of play, which I think were all that BGC played, as is to be expected for a reviewer with a constant stream of new games to understand, play and review.

Again it's a very valid point, but one I think becomes much less of a concern as players become more familiar with the game.

Incidentally, here are some average times for different dice:
Current mix of probabilities: 10 sec.
All 5 dice feature 2 timer icons: 10 sec.
All dice feature 1 timer icon: 15 sec.

Admittedly I roll a bit faster than the average person, so add a variance of about 3-5 seconds to the above for a slower dice roller.

Tedthebug
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The stress wasn't a complaint

She still seemed excited by it in a 'good' stress kind of way.

I have to admit I did agree with his comment on all the symbols, it's one of those things that would take a long time to learn but I don't know how you can have that many topics easily identified unless the player wrote down their topics after they rolled them.

I could see it as a team party game as well, like pictionary or something, where a whole team is guessing. That way there are more players guessing & they could specialise in one topic each.

let-off studios
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Feedback From Criticisms

You could explicitly suggest that players write down the categories they've rolled prior to rolling the alphabet die. That way you keep the icons on the dice, don't increase costs for components, and leave the responsibility in the player's hands. If you want to be really stingy you wouldn't even need to include a pencil and scratch pad. :)

I have a feeling if players played the game enough, seeing the icon, looking it up in the rulesheet, then writing it down on a piece of paper would be enough to help them eventually remember the categories.

I also agree with the reviewer that a ceiling of 6 players seems to be the realistic limit to prevent too much down-time, although I've seen 12+ players sit through a game of Martian Dice or Zombie Dice while chatting and waiting for dinner to arrive. There are ways to mitigate the negatives, but that seems highly-dependent on the group of players as well. In a six-player game, it leaves each player with 4 turns of spectating, which - when turns are about 35 to 45 seconds long - that doesn't seem so bad to me. That's like five painless minutes of being a spectator of a dramatic, loud game.

chris_mancini
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Writing down categories would

Writing down categories would certainly be an option, especially recommended for beginners. Simple enough to put in the rules, and it addresses the issue without sacrificing the icons for plain text.

Team play is absolutely a variant, and has often occurred naturally in larger group testing. This also helps with the recall of the icons, as players are incentivized to help their fellow teammates.

The timer dice I think I may alter; rolling multiple sets of clocks is a workable option, but I came up with a different way that changes the odds of rolling a clock on a single die:

- All timer dice are the same, which lowers tooling cost of the timer dice from
$2100 to $700. This lets me reduce my funding goal!

- Each die features 2 clocks; one in white, one in yellow.

- Harder mode requires you to roll a clock of either color (1/3 odds, 10 sec time average)

- Easier mode requires you to roll only white clocks (1/6 odds, 15 sec. time average)

I played with this option, and it works. Need to test with a group, but it shows promise...and I like having variability "built" into the dice...makes it just a bit more unique. Changes it enough that it may render the review obsolete, but if the game isn't as good as it can be, there's no point in trying to fund it.

Tedthebug
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The dice change sounds good

But can I suggest finding a different colour combo because in some lighting I find some whites & yellows start to look the same. Maybe go for something with a lot more contrast so one is light & the other is dark.

chris_mancini
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Helps with color blindness,

Helps with color blindness, too...black and white or blue and white would be the strongest. Great suggestion, thanks!

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