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[GDS] DECEMBER 2015 "Learning to Game" - Critiques

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mindspike's picture
Joined: 09/06/2011

We have a winner!

Evil Cults for Dummies

Congratulations to andymakespasta!

With only four entries this month, we've got some leeway to dig into the mechanics and see what works and what doesn't. It was really tempting to just declare this one a four-way tie, what with the voting being so close! Thank you to all of our entrants!

Voting Results

"Evil Cults for Dummies" by andymakespasta: 11 pts - Dec 19
"A Court of Kings" by markgrafn: 10 pts - Dec 20
"DroneBall" by Hook: 9 pts - Dec 21
"Autodidacticism" by andymorris: 9 pts - Dec 22

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday. Comment if you can and we'll see you next year with a brand new challenge!

Joined: 07/26/2015
I gave court of kings my

I gave court of kings my bronze, and that's how I won!

I actually felt court of kings was a pretty good game: very simple to teach and play, and can be very thematic, I like it.

Problem is, new players have no idea what possible agendas there are, so they're basically playing blind. Also, the game only really uses hidden information, and doesn't ramp up the complexity as the game progresses, so it didn't really fit the challenge in my opinion.

With extra ruminating, I realized that if you hand each player a reference sheet of all different agendas, and some pen and paper to record all player actions, the game DOES in fact ramp up in a subtle way. The game still fails to follow the mechanic restriction.

So, ehhhhh.... yeah.

I wrote my comments on each game when I'm voting, so I'll just dump them here.


Nice that the game ramps up and uses dice. The tag/cat and mouse gameplay with "momentum" is also something I haven't seen before. I feel this game would be better with four players, and you can discourage/prevent alliances by putting a penalty on losing your ball. 101 points is way too many points required to win. Is that a typo?


Getting started cards seem to be a good idea to ease the startup process, though for the purposes of this contest, smells of cheating. I get the gist of the game, but there are a lot of moving parts, and seems would be a nightmare to design the skills and action cards into a game with balanced choices and meaningful decisions. Not impossible, just seems very hard to design.

Joined: 03/05/2014

Nice job Andy. I think that's three wins for you now.

I too will plunk all my thoughts in here at once. I felt the main goal of the challenge was to find a mechanism for the instant play feel, something to separate it from simply easy to learn. That's why I went with the getting start cards. I actually didn't feel like any of the three had this. For my vote I ranked them by my impression of the learning curve which was:

A Court of Kings

I think this struck a nice balance of simple, but not too simple. I enjoyed the shout out to Morgan Freeman. I think it would result in some interesting discussion, plus the read a card and vote structure would be pretty easy to jump right into. However, upon second look, I have to agree with Andymakespasta that it doesn't actually use two of the required mechanisms. I'm sorry I missed this as it would have affected my vote.


When you first mentioned rc cars, I was hoping for a dexterity element using actual rc cars, oh well, maybe next time. Although there's a fair bit going on and some important decision points, it is essentially roll, move, do what it says. Hopefully, that would keep the learning curve to a minimum.

Evil Cults for Dummies

I really like the way the dice and cards work together and how the dice are used as workers. I think it would have plenty of interesting choices. Although I think all the information would be in front of you, I think it had the steepest learning curve. Also, it should probably be noted that the theme would turn a number of people away from the game, so it might be worth considering a different theme.

Lastly, a big thank you to Rich and Mindspike as well as all the entrants for all of the interesting GDS challenges this year.

Hook's picture
Joined: 09/22/2014

4 great ideas. Heres my short comment.

Court of Kings: I liked this game the best - but when re-reading it sees very easy to start playing but it does not really have an increasing complexity.

Evil Cult: Very nice idea using the worker placement in a nice way - adding more choices on each new location and summon. I did not get

Autodidacticism: I think it is a nice way to learn players the game - starting with the lid opening. I guess we will se more digital/augmented guides on games in the future.

andymakespasta wrote:

101 points is way too many points required to win. Is that a typo?

:-D I thought that would get a comment.. These 500 word formats I thought it didn't really matter to say a realistic/classic 10 points - and maybe it was fun if it had a robotic sound 1-0-1. But i added a line to the summary :

"...A firmware update could for example be .... double your current score and so on."


Joined: 07/26/2015
Yeah, our mods Richarddurham

Yeah, our mods Richarddurham and mindspike have done a stellar job coming up with unique challenges each month.

And I'm always excited to see other people's entries, especially our regulars who submit every month. (You can almost guess who made which game is you look carefully)

Attendance is sometimes spotty, but coming up with a new game each month has been a blast.

And just to be extra culturally sensitive, happy holidays everyone!

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