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[GDS] AUGUST 2014 "Immortal in Time" - Critiques

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Mr.S
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Catching up on Critiques

I was away on holidays, so this is my attempt to catch up on the reviews. I haven't read the other comments yet, so I apologize if there is repeated information.

Monument

This game is number based. The tallest monument is the most blocks. Therefore, it didn't place in my medals.

My Dad is Immortal

I like how the game invites creative matching of cards to make superpowers. I really like that mechanic, but I am not a fan of how the challenges work. I’d like to see players have to add one more card for each boast. Then it becomes almost a story telling game. Anyways, I think this game has potential, but it missed out on medals because it doesn’t meet the requirements for the challenge (immortalized – not immortal)

Raido

A simple storytelling game. It is fine, but doesn’t seem that original or interesting to me.

Mosaicus

This game feels more like an abstract game than a thematic game. So, I couldn’t give much points for immortalizing theme.

Infamous

Ok, so this was inspired by Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog? I just don’t feel that this party game was that inspiring. There is not enough game here.

Mr.S
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Written Into History Responses

Thanks for the reviews everyone

Zag24 wrote:

I wonder if this game might be more fun if the players have their hands revealed rather than hidden.

Revealed cards may be interesting, but will be too easy for other players to steal cards, though shuffling up cards would help… maybe during play testing, that is something that could be looked into. The big thing about this game is memorization... including memorizing who has the cards you need. It’s unlikely that Ill develop this game though.

davidwpa wrote:

This was my gold medal winning game.... I think it would be an interesting game to play and it seems to me that it would be easily expandable to increase its replayability.

Thanks for gold medal. There are so many possible character cards, that I just wrote “many” in the description. There is also the possibility of adding extra cards to the set collection deck. You are right that this game can really expand. I think it is also fairly easy to retheme.

DifferentName wrote:

The rules were written in a confusing way, and included many more numbers than were necessary. You also got some of the numbers wrong, explaining that players are dealt 4 cards, then after one player gives a card to another, one would have 6 and another would have 4. If they were dealt 4 cards, after giving/stealing one would have 5 and another would have 3.

I’m sorry you had a hard time understanding the rules. In previous entries, people have had a hard time understanding my concepts, so I added more explanation at the end. I realize that my concepts may be a little more unorthodox than some entries, but I would hope fellow game designers could understand. I feel numbers are easier to follow and consume fewer words than written explanations.
Good call on the mismatching numbers… I guess I must have missed that as I was tweaking the game.

EthosGames wrote:

This is the kind of game I think could shine with a historical fiction theme instead.

Absolutely.

andymorris wrote:
I voted this one for silver…. do the character cards have two possible winning sets on them and you could work on either one? Did you mean that one player has 5 cards and one has 3 or is the character card included in the cards that get passed around?

Thanks, it feels good to get votes from GDS mainstays like you and Davidwpa.
Choosing two characters may reduce the number of character cards required. I added the second winning conditions to reduce the chance of two players competing for the same cards while a third player has an easier time because there is no competition. If a player feels they are going not going to get a certain set, they can just work on the other one.
I think the numbers got confused while tweaking the game.

Mr.S
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Pinfall Olympics and Temple of the Gods Reviews

Pinfall Olympics

Thematically, I don’t think this feels much like a wrestling match. The mechanics don’t revolve around moves and counter-moves. I don’t see how the tokens are needed. Why cant you just discard cards? Also, winning a wrestling match isn’t exactly imortalization.

Temple of the Gods (my silver)

There are A LOT of cards to this game. It looks like a pretty solid game and thematically matches the challenge.

andymorris
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Thoughts on Pinfall

The way colours are ranked and compared seemed to go against the contest restrictions. I like simultaneous play, but this seemed a bit fiddly. I think you could eliminate all the tokens and just have each player choose one card to play. It might make sense to have the different moves have restrictions on what moves you can do next.

andymorris
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Thoughts on Temples

This sounds like an interesting game that would give players lots to think about. I felt like there were too many numbers to consider it for a medal. Especially where you need four of the same colour. One thing I'd suggest is you might want to start with two actions per turn and let it increase from there. Moving from one action per turn to two is doubling whereas moving from two to three is only 1.5. Allowing someone to have twice as many actions as someone else early in the game can make it difficult for the other players to catch up. I ran into this in a game I was testing at Protospiel and was given this same advice.

andymorris
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Thanks for the feedback

I appreciate the thoughts on Mosaicus. I knew it would be hard for everyone to picture, so I was pleased at least a couple of people must have understood it. My hope is that getting into a winning position would be a matter of foresight and timing rather than luck, but it would be hard to know without testing.

DifferentName thank you for noticing that I didn't include any numbers. My wife was giving me a hard time about trying so hard to avoid numbers. She didn't think anyone would even notice.

kevnburg
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The Reasoning Behind Pinfall's Token System

Thanks for the feedback so far, everybody. I appreciate the comments that the token system may be fiddly, but I'm struggling to see a way to work the game mechanically how I want to without them. Allow me to explain:

I wanted to separate this game from card games like Memoir '44 by only having 1 card as hidden information. Thematically, I think of this display of information as a wrestler examining his opponent for tells, thereby getting an idea of what he might be about to do (4 face-up cards), but not being completely certain (1 face-down card). It's important to me that the majority of each player's cards can be seen, and the best way I saw to do this was to have them on the table face-up, with one face-down.

Problem: With all the cards on the table, how do I go about making the players choose the card they're using simultaneously? If each player merely points at the card he's going to use, one is bound to point first, and then the other, if he has a counter card, will respond by pointing at his counter card.

I need a mechanic to ensure simultaneous selection of what move each player performs. I was reminded of the Game of Thrones board game, which uses face down tokens. Placing a token on each card, with one meaning "okay, this is the move I select" was the best fix I could think of.

From there I developed the idea of the Keep and Discard tokens being placed, and placing these at the same time as the action token is another factor of my design that I consider important because it forces the players to think harder. I don't want players to pick an action, see the results of the action (e.g. "Okay, position change; I'm on top now"), and then discard cards accordingly (e.g. "Okay, now that I'm on top, I'm going to get rid of all these bottom cards because I don't need them"). I want players to have to think about what the outcome of the action they selected will be and then discard cards based on their estimate ("e.g. okay, I think after this turn we're going to end up in the neutral position, so I'm going to discard these bottom cards in hopes of getting some neutral cards because I don't have any right now; but I guess I should keep one bottom card just in case I'm wrong...or maybe I shouldn't? How likely is it that I'll remain on bottom after this round?"). This is why players can't simply discard cards.

I would like to think of a better system, but I'm struggling to find a solid alternative.

Mr.S wrote:
The mechanics don’t revolve around moves and counter-moves.

I'm surprised that you feel this way. I designed the color system with moves and counter-moves in mind; it's a rock paper scissors system, essentially. Generally: red counters yellow, yellow counters blue, blue counters red.
andymorris wrote:
It might make sense to have the different moves have restrictions on what moves you can do next.

I considered this, but with 3 positions already restricting what move you can do, having even more restrictions may make it too hard to draw a valid card. There are already issues with drawing valid cards, as described below:

---------------

Earlier this week I playtested the game, and I found that it seemed a bit too luck based in its current form; too often a player would, despite discarding a good number of cards, only end up with one card that he could use next round, so he had no choice in the matter of which card to place an action token on. Games also have the potential to last a very long time, with a lengthy back and forth between positions and/or a lengthy "neither action was successful" stay in the same position.

The fix that I'm intending to implement and test soon:

1) Players draw 2 cards per card discarded, then play half of the cards drawn and discard the rest.

2) When a player runs out of cards, he loses the game.

My hope with these changes is to make the game more thoughtful: Do I want to discard a bunch to have solid options for next round (and thereby risk losing the game by running out of cards faster than my opponent) or do I want to keep most of my cards and risk not having anything good enough for the next round?

DifferentName
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Thoughts on rules writing

Mr.S wrote:
In previous entries, people have had a hard time understanding my concepts, so I added more explanation at the end. I realize that my concepts may be a little more unorthodox than some entries, but I would hope fellow game designers could understand.

It's not really an issue with the concepts, since they were explained in a clear concise way in the section at the end. I just recommend working towards that level of clarity throughout the rules.

It can definitely be tricky to predict which part of the rules people won't understand, but it happens to every game. Once you have an idea of what might be missed or unclear, you can add to that part of the rules, like you did with the section at the end, but as part of the rules instead of after them.

I guess I consider rules writing to be a large part of the contest. Someone could design a great game, but have trouble explaining it in a way that people can imagine how fun it would be. If people can't imagine how the game would play, it won't get the votes.

kevnburg
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How You Think Fatigue Works is Better Than How I Wrote It

davidwpa wrote:

--The accumulation of fatigue tokens seemed to much to me like keeping score in an indirect way in reverse though in that too much fatigue could cause a loss instead of a gain.

You misunderstand fatigue the way I wrote it in the rules. The effect makes the opponent place only 3 tokens instead of 5 only on his next turn. The turn after he returns to placing 5 tokens. However, I personally think this effect the way I designed it is terribly underpowered. I decided to not even include the effect in my prototype because I was confident that it wouldn't work well and I wanted to keep the game simpler for initial testing.

However, a system of acquring fatigue tokens is pretty interesting and something I'd like to play around with. I'm thinking there could be a zero-sum fatigue track similar to the scoring system in Twilight Struggle): A fatigue token would be placed in the center of a track that looks like this: -5, -4, -3, -2, -1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. Whenever a player becomes fatigued, the token moves up one space in the direction associated with that player. At -X, the player places X less tokens than normal (so a player with -2 will place 3 tokens instead of 5). If a player gets to -5 fatigue, he immediately passes out and loses.

I feel that Pinfall Olympics, with more special effects, has potential as a game where players build their own custom decks (For testing I built two very simple identical decks). With this sort of fatigue track, a player could build a deck that has fatigue as its intended win condition.

DifferentName
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Pinfall Temple

Pinfall Olympics

I guess I didn't fully understand how the face up cards and tokens were being used. I thought the tokens felt unnecessarily complicated, but with the cards face up, I can see how there might be some interesting decisions taking place, as you can see most of the opponents possible moves. It might be interesting to play without all 5 tokens, taking turns placing one token at a time. This way, you could watch your opponent as they place a token, trying to figure out each time if that's the move they're using against you, or just a bluff.

Maybe there could be abilities that mess with the usual flow of this, like ending the token placement phase early, or removing the first tokens placed.

The game had more numbers directly involved in the gameplay than i was looking for, but could have been done mostly the same without any numbers outside of the number of cards drawn.

Temple of the Gods

There are a ton of numbers in this one, with the number of actions, and the number required to make a set, and the number of cards you need to play to create the temple.

In your original rules, it was really unclear what you needed to do to complete the statue and win. It's just a little section at the bottom that describes the layout, but doesn't explain that "layout" is your objective to complete the statue and win the game. I didn't read all of your updated rules, but it does look like you explained this in a clearer way, with the X's showing how the temple would be made.

davidwpa
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Thanks for the critiques so far

I did notice the comments about numbers, but my understanding of the design challenge was that there should not be numbers used to score or quantify by comparision one person vs. the other. The numbers in this game do not do that. The number of actions you can perform is not compared among players and the sets are static--a set of four is a set of four. They don't compare to each other and don't make one superior to the other. I think this is the difference in my understanding of how Rich explained the challenge. If I misinterpreted it, then it was my mistake, but I would challenge the idea that it violated the number restriction.

davidwpa
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Outside of the challenge I like the design

@kevnburg, I hope you understand that having been a pro wrestling manager for local indies, I like that type of game like yours and if you lift it from the restrictions in this challenge I think it has a great potential to be a fun game. I like what you are thinking.

kevnburg
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davidwpa wrote:@kevnburg, I

davidwpa wrote:
@kevnburg, I hope you understand that having been a pro wrestling manager for local indies, I like that type of game like yours and if you lift it from the restrictions in this challenge I think it has a great potential to be a fun game. I like what you are thinking.

Thank you. Having wrestled for four years, I'm very attached to the design and fully intend to develop it further.

@DiffertName: Those are interesting ideas that I'd also like to play around with. Thanks.

Mr.S
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Ascension It is an

Ascension

It is an interesting game. This game just barely fits thematically into immortality as the mecahnics don’t really feel like you are building towards immortality. It feels more like trying to get up highest. That also makes this game a numbers game. Whoever has a higher number (highest placed cloud) wins.

Long Live Fashion

I thought this game was decent. It contended for my bronze, but ultimately I just didnt feel drawn to it. It lacks excitement, but that may be a personal opinion.

Also, this popped up on Listverse today and since it is related to our theme this month, I thought you all might enjoy it: 10 people imortalized

DifferentName
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Immortalized

Mr.S wrote:

>Also, this popped up on Listverse today and since it is related to our theme this month, I thought you all might enjoy it: [10 people imortalized](http://listverse.com/2014/08/22/10-people-whose-names-were-immortalized-...)

You mean I could have made a game based on the naming of the leotard?! :p

DifferentName
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Ascension and Fashion

Ascension

As others mentioned, it was pretty difficult to understand the gameplay on this one. I think this one needed a brief summary early on to give an idea of what players are doing, before getting into the details. I felt a bit lost reading about clouds moving around without knowing why I would want to move clouds around, so that by the time you get to the tokens I'm feeling lost instead of realizing that the tokens are why I was moving the clouds in the first place.

Unfortunately, cloud height works as a score. I guess you could say it's not your score, but the clouds score, and that you're trying to be the one backing the correct cloud. But it still feels too close to a score.

Long Live the Fashion

I have the same concern with the voting that some others mentioned. Everyone would just vote for their own item, and if they had to vote for more than one, then it's probably mostly luck hoping their extra vote doesn't give points to someone else. Also, there doesn't really seem to be any strategic reason to play one card from your hand over another.

I don't understand the point of discarding a card and declaring that something is out. Is that supposed to affect the rules at all, or was that rule just added so players can try and play mind games with each other? It's barely a bluff, as the only reason I can see to saying shoes are out is because you have another pair of shoes and want people to think you don't. The only other reason I can think to do it would be that you're pretending to bluff?

Also, accumulating 4 wins is a number and a score.

Mr.S
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Godhood and End of HIstory Reviews

Godhood

This month’s challenge was for something to become immortalized, not immortal.

End of History?

My list of questions is longer than the entry... no medals from me.

These were the notes I made while choosing medals. I apologize for the crassness and truncation

Mr.S
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September GDS ideas... jk

DifferentName wrote:

You mean I could have made a game based on the naming of the leotard?! :p

September GDS theme restriction - make a game based on the naming of the leotard. LOL

Seriously though, I'll give a medal to you if you can incorporate leotards into next months challenge.

andymorris
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Thoughts on Ascension

I think the way clouds are compared with the tokens didn't quite fit for the challenge restrictions. I think the card layout and alignment system is interesting, but I think you'd need more rounds to provide enough chance for strategy.

andymorris
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Thoughts on Fashion

The theme didn't seem to fit the challenge, in my opinion. I don't think there was enough to base the voting on. I think the idea of the first part of the round was to establish a kind of criteria, but this was not clear. I don't think that voting is the best fit anyway. Assigning a judge per round might be better.

andymorris
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Thoughts on godhood

I voted bronze for this game. I was a bit torn if the different number of cards per row violated the challenge restriction. I think it probably does, but I had a hard time picking a bronze. In my opinion, although the contest was full of creative ideas, there were not three entries, that had a strong fit both thematically and mechanically for the challenge without exceeding 500 words. What appealed to me about this entry was the fluidity in putting together the rows of the temple. I liked the gameplay, so it rose above the others I considered.

andymorris
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Thoughts on end of history

The pieces sound interesting. I'm not sure how they apply to the theme. It seems like an abstract game. Depending on the quantity of pieces and the placement and movement restrictions it sounds like it could be quite interesting. Ultimately, there is not enough detail presented to know.

DifferentName
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Goodhod and End

Godhood

Lots of numbers required to win in this one. The materials for building the pyramid are pretty strange too. Building a pyramid out of people, immaterial things, and other buildings? Just felt like the theme broke down a little with that.

I like the part about determining the position of the pyramid layers as you go. So each time you place a new element, you narrow down your possibilities a little bit more.

The End of History?

This entry was way too short. While the game rules don't have to be complete, they should have rules that give players a good idea of how the game would be played. This one was little more than an idea. Your choices of words were a bit odd too. Coded faces facing each other?

DifferentName
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Drawing and Poems

Drawing

It seems really strange having players draw on the same board simultaneously. I guess you just ignore what the other player is drawing unless they draw a line you can use? If that's the case, I imagine it would end up being pretty difficult to see what you've drawn under the mess of extra lines.

I think it would all come down to getting good card draws, as there doesn't seem to be much strategy or player interaction past that. I could see players drawing two matching cards in a row, forcing them to discard both and miss their turn.

Ender Poets

It's Uno, plus haikus. I could see people that are more into poetry than me, having fun with this game. But I think competitive players would want to just vote down the poems so abilities don't affect them. Or at least when a move is going to cost them the game.

There were a lot of numbers in the card effects ("X cards", where X is a number).

James Allen
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Thanks Anyway

I'd like to thank those who commented on my game idea. It's brevity and difficult wording are mostly a consequence of taking the word count (500 words) seriously, and the assumption that entries would be necessarily brief and vague given that limitation. Clearly, the accepted word count is more in the order of 3000-5000 words, and maybe the contest guidelines should reflect that.

I'd like to comment on someone's note about not "buying it" (I'm just spacing the name right now). I'm just not sure what you mean. The inspiration for the idea is taken from Francis Fukuyama's famous essay of the same title. Like the essay, the game is based on Hegelian dialectic: the idea that problems are resolved as a consequence of resolving a thesis and anti-thesis, recursively until there are no more problems. At that point history will end because there will be nothing left to know. Game play is just a physical modeling of that idea. Maybe that helps?

Mr.S
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Drawing and Ender Poets Reviews

Drawing

Ok, having funding does not make one immortal. However, I can see that you mean being a great architect means that you will be immortalized via your buildings. The push your luck element was a bit of a surprise for me. I wasn't expecting that in a drawing game. There seems to be a lot of restrictions (cards) for a drawing game. I’m not sure if this game will work as well in practice as it looks on paper.

Ender Poets

Wow, this is meta. Good story telling game though there are a few other people that went this route. Just story and vote seems boring to me. The symbols add a slight twist, but not enough to get me interested.

andymorris
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Thoughts on Drawing

I actually like the press your luck idea. I think it is more interesting than simply dealing a hand of cards to each player. The potential issue is down time between turns. With this system players cannot even think about what they will do next in between turns. Perhaps there can be a middle ground where you have some cards in your hand, and maybe there's a place for a trading mechanic or something like that to increase player interaction. I like the general concept in the game, but I also didn't feel the thematic idea of multiple people drawing on a single sheet made much sense. Maybe it could just be a group of architects who are suppose to be working together, but have totally different ideas.

andymorris
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Thoughts on Poets

I think there is definitely a segment of people who would really enjoy this game. Personally, I'm not one of them as I would not want to have to make up a poem. Since the end game is to be the last one with cards, I think the central mechanic needs to be more about getting yourself more cards. As it is many of the actions would be things you wouldn't what want to happen, because they let other players draw cards.

davidwpa
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Catch up on reviews

Ascension

I like the game. It sounds like it would make an interesting session, but unfortunately the ladder ranking in it to me sounds too much like a scoring methodology and less a voting technique which dropped it from medal contention but remained fairly high on my list.

Long Live the Fashion

Interesting concept, not necessarily my theme for a game I would play, but I like the interaction that occurs in it. I don't know if it rises to the level of immortality or permanence since fashion is such a transient thing. The major issue was the last rule which says the person with four fashion markers wins. That unfortunately is a scoring mechanism which I think violates the challenge restrictions.

Godhood
This is an interesting game. I like the idea of building a pyramid of matching sets, but the dynamic flow of the pyramid's sets (Ie not knowing whether the pyramid is building up or down). I didn't quite get the idea of whether there were restrictions on how the rows relate to each other. It was my runner up to a medal this month.

The End of History?
This sounds more like a synopsis for a game design or an idea rather than the design itself. There really isn't enough here to judge and I don't get where it plays into the immortality theme. I think what is there conforms to the no number constraint, but there is not enough for me to sit down and understand how the game would work or even visualize it.

Drawing
Interesting idea and novel concept as far as I can tell. My only problem was I was having a hard time visualizing how it all fits together, but I like the mechanic of having all players trying to complete their designs on one sheet.

Ender Poets

I read through this. I like the poetry mechanic, but I'm not getting the rule symbols or do you just play the cards down or are they played into some type of tableau? It's not my type of game, but I think with the right people it could be a fun diversion and it meets the constraint of the challenge but I'm not necessarily certain of the theme.

DifferentName
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Word/Character Count

James Allen wrote:
It's brevity and difficult wording are mostly a consequence of taking the word count (500 words) seriously

Oh! I think you were looking at the character count of your rules, not the word count. Your rules were 84 words, 478 characters. The entries I see in the contest stick pretty close to 500 words, but there are some differences in word counters for some slight variation. That makes sense why your rules were so short then, since it seems like you thought through the game more than was explained in the rules.

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