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[GDS] APRIL 2014 "Fool me once..." Critiques thread

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Tahrirfirma
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Who's the fool now

In a contest like this a purely abstract game is going to need to be innovative and clearly explained to get votes. It seems like there could be a simple and fun game here, but I think that it missed out on votes because of the lack of clarity in the rules and the absence of an interesting theme to hook people in. In particular the components and what the first player's "comment" and "compare" options are needed to be more clearly explained.

bike
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Medals

Gold: Idol flatery

Nice bluffing game. I think it does work best with two players. With three or more players too much will have changed when it is your turn again.

Silver: Countdown D.C.

Exactly for 2 players, well done. It could be that with perfect tactics the police are able to capture all red pawns, or vice versa, the bombers might rush (4 steps at once) towards the building. I think the movement can be improved by adding some random element.

Bronze: Agents and Agitators

Not everything is clear to me, but I see potential to develop this further. I like to give players the choice to reveal more information and get more dice with chance for revolt. I suggest starting with some regions already in revolt, and more chances of neighbour districts to revolt. That adds more deduction and makes bluffing smarter.

Fourth: Go Go Gatherer

I did not like the fact that the players have no influence on which will be the next pile. I think the game improves if the players take turn in deciding which pile the gatherer stands. Players can pick their own resource but might reveal their card, or they can force the other player to reveal some information. If any player wants to guess the card of the other player they can do so. If they are correct they win, otherwise, they lose.

nazcagames
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My Bronze went to "Yes, Peas!"

Pros: The theme made this a perfect family game of light bluffing and perhaps some laughs. This entry was nicely written and well presented. Combining bluffing with hidden role/agendas was delightful. And that combination of mechanisms I'm a big fan of. I can already picture this game on a store shelf under a company like Gamewright or Haba (after tweaking and development). This was close to getting my silver medal vote.. but I had a soft spot for Ninjas.

Cons: It seemed to me that the bluffing element is very light. I imagines players would be more focused on completing their recipes and scoring points more than bluffing each other. I also felt that this wasn't strictly a two player game, with more players making the game more enjoyable (perhaps up to 4-5 players).

Overall: This was one of the entries that had the best presentation and felt more like a complete game, but also felt that the bluffing/misdirection wasn't as strong. The game also appeared more like a multiplayer game that could be played two players. While it didn't nail the requirements of the contest like some of the other entries, I still felt it deserved a medal for being one of the best presented entries. Great job overall!

tgosiaco
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Silver- Cunning and Conjecture

I chose this game because I felt like while absent of theme it placed more of an emphasis on player interaction. Drawing 2 cards and being forced to give one to an opponent seemed like a really fun mechanic. Will need to try this one out

Koen Hendrix
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The bottom

Who's the Fool now?
I think this game's combination of bluffing and card-comparing can work really well in a game, and it felt 2-player specific. But there's little to no chance of escalation or rising tension, and the game also seems to last quite long. The Fool seems the only bit of 'spice', but it's super-easy to give away (if you see it, just say it's a 1 or a 5, then compare it -- if the other player doesn't bite first). All in all I think this game would end up feeling repetitive. The lack of a theme also makes it less appealing for me.

Trojan Piñata
This game might have suffered from being 16th in the list, because after 15 game descriptions, I could not be bothered trying to decypher the gameplay from this messy description.

Please work on the structure of your description, explain things in a logical way. You start talking about putting things in 'the Pinata' without explaining what that is. Same for 'the field','the stick', 'the horse', 'relics'...

Your game may be too complicated for a 500-word description. But if so, please just write an understandable high-level overview rather than dumping some action menus, combat mechanics and cards lists on my lap.

High Noon
If there was a game called High Noon, it probably didn't get any medals because it wasn't in the contest thread. (Or am I missing something?)

richdurham
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High Noon

You're right. High noon didn't get any votes because it was submitted after the deadline; It shouldn't be on the list of votes received. I've removed it. Sorry to the submitter - feel free to start a thread of your own with the entry if you want feedback on it!

nazcagames
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Feedback for "Who's the fool now"

I felt the game was missing one critical element: context. Each player has the option to call out the value of the card. The other player has nothing else to go by other than looking into his opponents eyes and guessing whether he's lying or not. In other bluffing games like poker, players have some context (an therefore hints) by the way players bet. Games like "Resistance" have voting, and based on the way players vote will give color to the canvas to draw your conclusions as to who are the traitors. Since in this game, each bluff is a distinct transaction, it doesn't build up context that leads to the next bluff (or non-bluff). Or if it does, it's on the same level as RPS (Rock, Paper..)

The description doesn't go over what happens when a player announces a value and his opponent doesn't make an accusation.. only what happens when an accusation is made. I assumed the player keeps the card(?). But perhaps the card is returned face down(?).

The second action a player can take is "choose one of his card and one of his opponent´s card and turns them around. Player who has the card with higher value gets the opponent´s card and places it in front of him face up." What happens to the higher card? Is it discarded? This seems that might add some interesting game play... but it was just difficult to visualize how it would work.

Now, as negative as the above sounds, I think if the game was able to provide a solid context for bluffing, it would have been a medal contender for me. As I pointed out above, there were a few holes in the rules that made it difficult to imagine how the game plays out. Overall, if some parts were reworded and the bluffing tweaked to have a little more depth, it would a solid entry for sure.

Mr.S
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Entry #16 – Trojan Pinata

It’s too bad that there were so many entries this month and this one was so far down on the list. I really didn’t want to put as much effort into sorting it out like the first few entries. There is a lot to take in and this game is quite liberal with wording, which makes it unclear. This game really needs to be explained better, but I think you would have had a hard time getting it down to 500 words.
The theme is interesting and the piñata idea would make it fun for everyone to play. All of the monsters and heroes need to be explained more to get an idea of how the battle will commence. I just think you tried putting too much game into such a limited word count. Next time try to focus more on mouth feel if you want to explain a complex game like this. Leave off all the card names and focus more on the mechanics.

Mr.S
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tgosiaco wrote:I chose this

tgosiaco wrote:
I chose this game because I felt like while absent of theme it placed more of an emphasis on player interaction. Drawing 2 cards and being forced to give one to an opponent seemed like a really fun mechanic. Will need to try this one out

Thanks for the review:
I can send you the files for the original game if you PM me. Its printable and I would love to have it play tested by more people.

bike
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Who's the fool - suggestions

Two points from other critiques that I share:
- No clues about cards, just guessing
- Too long/repetetive

A good thing (with just about any game) is to remove as much as possible, without removing the game. I think this game still holds well with 11 cards (1-5 2x and one fool).
As for guessing, one way would be to have the players look at their 5 cards and put them down sorted. Highest vs. highest, lowest vs. lowest.
Instead of commenting on a card of your own, the player points to a card of the opponent and asks what it is.
Only score the 3-cards.

(When a card must be replaced, take the 4 remaining cards in hand, add one, sort, and then put them down again - the shifting in order should not be visible for the other player)

Astrium Rex
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Bronze: Agents & Agitators

Agents & Agitators got my bronze mostly because the dystopian theme appealed to me and I thought the asymmetrical gameplay and win conditions was interesting. Granted I only read the write up once, but the actual mechanics of giving clues and using spy's was a bit hard to understand and vague. I really like the idea though of multiple districts having the same symbol as part of their combo and limiting the possibilities with each detail learned by the imperial. It seemed like a good deduction mechanic. I do worry though that there would be insufficient combination options to really provide a logical problem for every district.

Overall I thought this game had a lot of potential and would be interested to see where it evolves.

nazcagames
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Feedback for "Trojan Pinata".

I'm afraid my feedback isn't going to be all that helpful. The reason being, after reading the entry three, maybe four times.. I can't quite grasp how the game works. Too many aspects of the game are unclear to me:

Where are the pinatas?
Why would your stick power change when you attack a soldier of equal battle?
Where/What are the walls?
How do you attack something with a value of 15 when the highest value on the die is 6 (Demigod being the highest)?
How do you successfully attack your opponent to win?
"Letting the horse pass thru" sounds like it should be the same as "Open the horse".. but is one sending yourself the Trojan Horse?
You only untap one soldier per turn?
ect.. You get the idea.

This had the potential to be a very interesting idea.. but I suspect it wasn't feasible to fully describe the gameplay in the 500 word limit. I wish I could give better feedback on this one.

Mr.S
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Versus Critique

Richdurham, the schedule says today is High Noon but the third lowest total vote was for Versus. Probably a typo, so here is my review for Versus:

This was an interesting way to do an auction game. It lacked substance though. If you could through a little theme in there, it would be great. For example, name what you are bidding on.

Mr.S
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Remaining Reviews

Entry #1 – Go Go Gather Are the number cards only used to place the villages? Why is this even important? Does village placement have any impact on the game? Perhaps the opponent can place the villages (or just let the player decide where they go.) After the game gets going, the villages become important, but not at this stage yet. I think that the “villages” provide a nice way to randomize the game, giving it replay ability.
This game reminds me of the recent experiment – “Twitch Plays Pokemon”. I feel like this game will be exceedingly frustrating as most of the time you are just trying to get a dude to move around. And in this case, I think the frustration will not translate into fun. This is not so much about misleading or bluffing as it is about wits. Last month’s challenge had an entry that had the same basic mechanism as the gather, but with a spinner instead (the weather control game).
This game is not a resource management game, so I would suggest moving away from that theme. Perhaps the selector can be a selector and it ‘chooses’ Tetris pieces to create something (or be played like Tetris). I feel like the resource gathering makes this game boring. A re-theme will make this game worth playing.

Entry #3 – Hidden War I like this game because you don’t need to purchase it to play it. It also looks like fun and a great game of wits. However, it missed on medals for me because it’s not a new game. It’s just a twist on an old game. For example, you can play Pictionary by using the intended cards, or making your own. But, don’t get down about it, I’d rather play this game than ‘war’.

Entry #4 – Sheep or Cow The premise of this game made me cringe, but I suppose most gamers don’t know much about farming anyways. Without tearing the story apart too much, I’ll just ask a couple questions: Where would farmers on communal land NOT be part of the local community. If water is so scarce and for some reason, the town’s people are not exploiting this water supply, are there no other farmers in the area that would compete for the supply? I separated the ‘story’ from the game and judged it based on the mechanics instead. I think that a game focusing on cooperation (like sand bags preparing for a flood, or moving humanitarian aid in a train fashion) is more appropriate for this game.
All that being said, I liked this overall concept game. I think this game falls short of the medals because there is no way to stop a player. There is no benefit to bluffing. The winning player will just be luckier. I also think this game is more complex than it needs to be. I think if you strip down the game and make it about linking to a resource, this game would be much better. But hey, that is just my opinion.

Entry #5 – Rakshasha I would like to see the other forms also carry with the hindu theme. Admittedly, I didn’t know this before researching it. I feel like this game lets me down by using ‘dragons’. I would like to see what the other forms are, but I am sure they were a victim of the word limit.
I liked this game. It’s not exactly as I would have done the game, but I think it works well enough. I would have simplified the game a bit, but having the players race past obstacles that are placed in front of them. Skirting the obstacles seems like a cop out. Maybe a card is played each round to overcome an obstacle and the other player has to decide whether or not to call their bluff. Cards always remain face down, unless a bluff is called. A new card is selected from the deck of ‘forms’. This is just my humble offering towards this game.

Entry #6 – Auction Showdown A good auction game with secret bidding. I think this game would be better if players had competing and overlapping interests (I see you tried to do with extra character cards – though you could use more). While it is possible, it is not likely in the two player game. If this game were expanded to 4 or more I think it would work better. To make the game more competitive, consider reducing the number of auction cards. You could add another parameter as well. This game is about competing for items (like any auction game)… so the only competition is to send out as many $0 bids as you have. As far as the game goes, I think it fails to offer something unique enough to make me want to purchase it. However, I would play it if it was in front of me.

Entry #7 – Odds and Evens It was difficult to follow where the tokens go for each roll and WHY do they go there. I do not understand this game. I get the mechanics… I just don’t know why I would want to play this game. Why do the rolls move tokens? Have you considered the probability curves for rolling pairs and straights? It seems like you should call a bluff on every turn. What are the playing cards for? Can’t you just make two piles of tokens? I also don’t understand the center dice. Are they necessary? What is the difference between a die being on the bluff or face up pile? Can you use the dice if you win them? Why would you want to put your dice in the middle? There were just too many questions about this game to give a medal.

Entry #8 – Dragon’s Dojo First, I would challenge the two bag rule. Any smart player will start the game by taking both piles, mixing them together and put them back into the bags. It is not stealthy, but completely legal in this game. Therefore there is no reason to be sneaky about that. Why not just use one bag?
I liked the ideas of ‘relics’ and traps, though I feel ‘relics’ was a poor choice and that a more suitable name for those could be sought.
I have some questions about this game: Is the 9x9 square large enough to accommodate all of the tokens and movement of the ninjas? Can multiple tokens be placed on each square?

I feel like this game lacks the bluffing and misdirection of the challenge. Misdirection relies more on the cards and how to play the cards than the abilities of each player to deceive.

This game would be interesting in the form of “jack the ripper game” as the opposing player tries to catch the other ninja through the streets by following the trail, but along the way there are traps and misdirections to confuse them.

Entry #9 – Agents and Agitators A word to the wise: be consistent in naming your parameters. The title of the game and introduction used Agents and Agitators and then the instruction switched to Radicals and Imperials without ever explaining it. It was confusing.
This game looks like it has a rather complex battle mechanic that is key to the game. I fail to see where the misdirection / bluffing comes into play. The “guess my cards” part of the battle seems to be randomly inserted in and unnecessary for this game. It was not a key mechanic.

Entry #10 Cunning and Conjecture My game. It was a re imagining of another game I have made called clairvoyant. One player is the clairvoyant and knows the winning conditions. The other players try to work out what the winning conditions are before the clairvoyant wins.

Entry #12 – Stranded I don’t see how this relates to the challenge criteria. The voting stage surely can’t be the misdirection.

#13 – Fight or Fleece Love the name of the game. I think this game would become more interesting if you can place the facedown card on either player. I think I’d have to play this game to really understand how it works, but as far as I can tell, there is not much deception in this game. There is no bonus for lying, etc.

Entry #14 – Countdown DC I was with you on this game until you added the movement points. I think this game would be great just going after each other. Alternating turns. The police could get overrun and have to try to stop as many people as possible while the bombers try to sneak through and blow up a building. Bombers could also send the police on a wild goose chase after a blank red token. I am also unsure how much misdirection is really going on in this game. It doesn’t seem like much.
I could also see how this game may be a little offensive to some people. You are essentially trying to be a terrorist. Some people may not want to play a game where the goal is to destroy and kill the innocent.

Zag24
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Thanks!

Mr.S wrote:
**Entry #3 – Hidden War**
I like this game because you don’t need to purchase it to play it. It also looks like fun and a great game of wits. However, it missed on medals for me because it’s not a new game. It’s just a twist on an old game. For example, you can play Pictionary by using the intended cards, or making your own. But, don’t get down about it, I’d rather play this game than ‘war’.

Thanks for the feedback! I'm wondering if it would have done better if I hadn't compared it to the existing game, since the similarities are only superficial. In our play-testing my son and I actually found it to be quite fun and nothing like War at all. The relatively late rule change where the aces (the highest cards) are worth negative points made the game interesting, with bluffing opportunities on every declaration.

I'd love to hear from anyone who actually tried to play the game. OTOH, I don't actually plan to move forward on developing it, because, as you pointed out, everyone already has all the materials required to play -- there would be nothing to sell. (But I guess I still feel somewhat invested.)

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