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[GDS] MARCH 2014 "Make Mine Random" - Critiques

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Joined: 01/05/2014
If you are going to make a

If you are going to make a word game, your explanation should be well written. I didnt put much effort into reviewing this game because the designer didnt put much effort into writing (or editing) it.

Joined: 11/06/2013
Remaining Feedback

I know I haven't been around for the last couple of days and I'm sorry about that. Hopefully, I can make it up by sharing my feedback on the remaining games. If any of the designers have specific questions they want an opinion on, I'm happy to comment in a game thread or by PM.

Fate and the Wheel of Fortune:
I enjoyed the creativity that went into it. Instead of going for one particular disaster like I did, you chose to go with a grand scale game and go for all sorts of disasters affecting the entire world. The downside was that there were a lot of elements to juggle in a short word count like population, different disasters, different cards and player options.

I was less convinced by the necessity for a spinner in this particular game. The cards players could play did more to randomize events than the spinner. I think this could be a fine game if it is worked out a little more; it just fit the challenge well enough to get medal consideration from me.

Bumbling Bees:
This game was one of the four medal considerations for me, and just barely missed out. I think the determining factor was the clarity of the explanation. I had a lot of questions after reading the text. Maybe I'm just being pedantic, or perhaps I was not paying enough attention, but I think it could've been improved upon despite the word limit.

The jump from spinner to flower is small enough to make sense and using it to randomize movement is fine. However, by forcing the players to share the bees along with that randomized movement, you're dragging out the game needlessly. Why would you move to the hive, only to give the next player in line the points?

I really like the idea of sharing the bees, but you need a way for players to catch the points they work so hard to get for themselves and not someone else.

Fishing Float:
Although this game didn't win any of my medals, I did enjoy it. It came across a fishing equivalent of Takenoko, a good thing in my book. My only real beef here was that players are able to trade fish 3:1 with the "bank", but trading among players isn't allowed. In my opinion, that is a missed opportunity. Increasing player interaction is always a good thing for fun and a better game experience.

Gaja Moon:
This entry won my Silver Medal and I'm afraid there's little to comment on. The game is well thought out and I made few notes of improvement. That's probably part of the reason why it scored so well for Theme (bonus points for such a great theme) and Clarity.

Do or Dial:
The description was crystal clear, but I had no feeling of theme or immersion. It felt too clinical to really get stuck into. Since those are particular important points for me, it didn't score well, but with a little more development I could easily change my mind.

Warriors of Spinaria:
Despite a couple of grammar mishaps in the description, it scored well on clarity (especially spin-combat-resolve), but the game did have the disadvantage of being a fantasy battle game. A game like that has to work extra hard to convince me. In the end, it relied too much on cards to reach a medal position.

Critter Scramble:
Based on the description, this sounds like a set collection game with a dexterity element too it, but the "pair of whatever" is where you should have elaborated. I can guess what is supposed to match, but an example wouldn't helped a lot to improve your description.

Time is Money, Money is Fame:
Although I like the idea of using the spinner as a clock, it didn't really fit the challenge requirements. And although the parameters fit the game title, in practice the game felt light on theme.

Word Drop:
I totally missed the point of the game. Why leave a word around a spinner for someone else to pick up? Also, the fact there were some language issues with a word game, didn't do it any favors. For example, it wasn't very clear on which cards/words you are allowed to take after the second spin. And who scores which words at the end of the game?

davidwpa's picture
Joined: 12/05/2008
Critiques to catch up

Hi everyone,

Life got in the way, but I have some critiques to make up, so here we go:

Bumbling Bees
This game has a lot of potential, but it seems complex. It feels too random and complicated to be fun right now. I don't get how the flowers work and how you set them up. There is no mention of pollen tokens in the components but they appear to be a central part of the game and I have a hard time understanding how the bees move. It just feels like a hard game to play.

Fishing Float
I read the criticisms of the interpretation of a spinner and I side with the designer that while not a traditional spinner, a top is still a spinner none the less. I like how the idea is used in this game, but I think that the mat or board needs some type of boundary on it to keep the spinner in the playing area. The trading mechanism seems a bit complicated for the game. I think what kept it from a medal for me was I wasn't sure how strategic this could be as the spinner seems to solely control everything and makes the whole game random.

Gaja Moon
This game was towards the top of my list but didn't quite medal because the first two times I read the design when I was voting I just was not getting it. After reading some of the critiques I went back and reread this and it made more sense to me now. It would seem to me that there is not enough tiles to make the game a decent length but that could be adjusted and there also doesn't seem to be much chance to really strategize anything as your are at the mercy of the spinners which seems a little at odds with theme of picking up and delivering resources which to me would require some planning and direction.

Do or Dial
This is an interesting concept, but the spinner doesn't seem to be a part of the main core of the game's mechanics and only sets the randomness. From there the game seems to get complicated to be targeted for ten and up and I have had to read the directions a few times to understand what all the dials do and without directions in front of me, I'm not sure how easy it would be to play in all practicality.

Warriors of Spinaria
I was confused about the decks and it seems like only two are in play so the spinner really doesn't do much more than flipping a coin would. From that point forward it seems very simple without much of an opportunity for strategy. Perhaps a deck of equipment cards or modifiers might add a level of depth to this game and make it more strategic. It could be appropriate in its present form for younger players though, but too simplistic for my taste.

Critter Scramble
This game has interesting potential but the mechanic of people just chaotically grabbing for tokens makes this game a turn off for me as it would seem to favor more aggressive players over others.

Time is Money, Money Is Fame
If there is randomness in this game it doesn't seem to come from the spinner which only appears to track time. This is a card game that uses a spinner only to track a time element. I don't think it rose to the merits of the challenge.

Word Drop
This game design was incomprehensible to me. I read it and reread it and it made no sense. You draw cards for a hand then you spin a spinner and take cards from there, make a word, spin again, put cards under the spinner take other ones. It makes no sense to me and while I think there could be an interesting game buried in there, I don't know where it is in its present form.

Joined: 01/05/2014
God Save the Queen

Hello everyone.
Now that all the reviews are in, I would like to post my original submission to this GDS. I replaced it with "Hostile Robot" in an attempt to be more true to the GDS's challenge. **This was my previous entry...**
I am just wondering if I made the right choice. You can review it or ignore this post, it is up to you. I like this game better, but I don't really have any plans to develop it in the near future.
Thank you and a kudos to everyone who joined this month's BGS.

**God Save the King**
**How to Play:**
This is a two player war game set in medieval folk lore. Players will use the spinner board to obtain members of an army (see Spinner Board). These new members will be added to a battalion (see Batalion Board) and placed on the warzone board (see Warzone Board). A player has the choice to either create a new member – added to the battalion in the castle - or move the battalions. To create a new battalion, the old pawn must exit the castle. When two or more pawns are occupying the same space, they will have a battle at the end of the turn (see Battle).
**How to win:** A player wins by defeating all of the character / creatures in the castle.

**Spinner Board:** The spinner board has 5 spinners (Game of Life Style) and is used to create new members in a battalion. One center spinner and four around it.
First, spin the pairing spinner and then the two other spinners as indicated. New members are spawned in the castle and added to the current battalion.
*Pairing Spinner* – tells the player which of the other spinners will be used to create the new member.
*Creature Spinner* – Dragon, War Elephant, Gargoyle, Unicorn, Gryphon, Orc, Gnome, Werewolf.
*Character Spinner* – Apothecary, Soldier, Stone Carver, Miner, Farmer, Armorer, Alchemist, Blacksmith.
Power Spinner – Health, Stone, Wood, Magic, Fire, Water, Earth, Wind
*Weapons Spinner* – Mace, Shield, Long Sword, Spear, Poleaxe, Javelin, Recurve Bow, Crossbow.

**Battalion Boards** – Keep track of who is in each battalion. They are 5 characters across and three deep. Before each round, characters can be moved (maximum 1 space). If a space is open in the opposing battalion, a member can use that space.

**Warzone board:** A map of the battle area. It’s wider in the middle and narrower at the ends. Each end has a castle that houses the king. Spawning only occurs in the castle. There are pawns representing the battalion of the same color.
**Battle** - During each round of a battle, each member of the battalion will be able to make one attack against a member of the opposing battalion. Players will alternate turns during a battle starting with whoever’s turn it is. Each battle will likely take a few rounds to complete. Refer to member cards for stats. The offense number is how much damage can be inflicted per attack, while the defense number is how much damage can be taken before dying.

**Description of cards:**
*Character / Creature Cards:* These cards will give some base attribute (defense / offense) that can be combined with powers and weapons to form a new member.

*Power / Weapons Cards:* These cards are clear and can be laid over the character / creature cards to give the total attributes.

*Special Power Cards:* Some combinations of members will result in special power cards (eg. Apothecary + Health = Reincarnation, Gnome + Magic = Sorcerer, Unicorn + Spear = Calvary). There is only one of each special power available since they are so rare.

Thank you for your time.

Joined: 03/05/2014
My Thoughts for today


I didn't consider this for a medal simply because I didn't feel the use of the clock, although creative, quite fit the challenge. However, that does not mean I didn't like the potential for the game. I like the idea of either scoring points or getting the secondary benefit. I think it still needs some tweaking. I don't think there would be any reason to choose points as the parameter as you can score points every time by picking something else. As a result I don't think that points should be one of the options, so that the only way to get points is to win the round. I think you could make the third parameter fame. To do so you could keep the special cards in a separate pile and you draw them as the secondary scoring for the fame category. I think you'd probably need more cards in total. It might also make sense to simply sequence through the parameters rather than have someone choose one each round.

Word Drop

I think this was an excellent use of the spinner for the challenge. The dynamic possible outcomes is a great example of something a spinner can do that dice cannot. However, I did not consider it for a medal as I had a few questions. What do you do with any words you grab at the end of the turn? How does the game end? Can you look at the cards in the piles to find potential words?

I think there's potential here. I think the random element works. However, I think right now it feels like you are just hoping any words you make don't get discarded by the spinner, so you can pick them back up. Therefore, I think you should get to play one word from your hand and then just distribute the other letters around the spinner. At the end of the turn you can then look for words in the remaining piles. I think you should also be allowed to rearrange the letters in the words you have played to make longer words and put letters back unwanted letters around the spinner, if it helps make longer words.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Impressive response

Hi everyone. I'm once again impressed by your participation in the GDS, both in the entries and the quality of the critiques. This is why we're HERE, after all:

Practice, learn, practice some more.

I saw several participants even mention how they hope to pursue the designs after the competition. This is a great idea, and I will invoke the name of indy designer Matt Worden here as a reference of success. His game Jump Gate (winner of GAMES magazine's traditional game of the year in 2011) began as an entry to the GDS.

Not only did it not win, but the final version doesn't look a lot like it did as a GDS entry. It was an inspiration; a jumping off point. You should treat it the same way, and get those designs out there. Don't abandon something with a good seed just because it didn't do well in the GDS. This is a show! A game in itself! For fun! Even the winners of the GDS would probably fall apart during the first play.

The difference between a last place GDS and a published game is persistence and play-testing.

Next month will see some great additions to the GDS, both to support our growing participation and to better reward the games that "win" the competition. I hope you'll like them as much as I do.

Until April 1st!

Joined: 11/06/2013
April 1st? Are you sure there

April 1st? Are you sure there are no jokes or hoaxes involved?

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Evil laugh

Oh no. None at all.

Joined: 03/05/2014
Respobse for Mr S

I like the idea of how you are using the spinners. I think you could use this layout to do even more. Rather than just indicating which two other spinners are used, it could also take advantage of where the spinners line up with each other to also vary some aspect of the card you collect (like quantity, strength, position, or something like that).

I don't have much frame of reference for this type of game, so I'm sure how it stacks up against other games. Overall, it seems like everything would fit well and work nicely together. I'm not convinced the clear cards are necessary.

As far as comparing this to your robot game, I would rank the robot ahead. That's mostly just because I have an easier time seeing the potential in the robot game.

Joined: 01/05/2014
Thank you @andymorris for

Thank you @andymorris for taking the time to review my other game. I guess I made the right decision to go with the robot game. Each spinner having different information sounds interesting. I'll see if that works within the limits of the game. The more I think about this second game, the more I wish to build it. I just have to figure out how to make a spinner.

@richdurham - I am looking forward to the next GDS. I can't wait. To me designing games is even more fun than playing them. So the Game Design Showdown is basically a game of making games - which is perfect for me. I also really enjoy seeing everyone's perspectives on game design. This is not only true about what they say about my submission, but how they respond to all the submissions.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
richdurham wrote:... and I

richdurham wrote:
... and I will invoke the name of indy designer Matt Worden here ...

Your invocation skills are very strong ... even from half way 'round the world! ;-)

The GDS continues to be an awesome thing. Nice job keeping it rolling, Rich!


richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009

And there he his! Thank you, thank you; I'll be here all week.

Glad to see you rockin' the gaming world with some upcoming releases (Happy Mitten Games shout out).

Thanks for the GDS compliment. We have a lot of talented designers participating these days, and they make it look good!

Joined: 06/07/2012
Fish Float When I read about

Fish Float

When I read about the contest my own first instinct was to go with a design that utilized a spinner, in the form of a spinning top, because that’s what I always call those game pieces. Then I showed my concept to someone on TGC and after the other entrant discussions I figured my interpretation was incorrect, so I shelved the design.

…but I’m still going back to calling them spinners after this post :)

I definitely agree that the majority of things that can be done with a board spinner can be done more efficiently and cheaply with cards or dice. This makes spinners largely redundant, although I did come up with one or two novel ideas.

So naturally I liked the concept behind Fishing Float. The dexterity element afforded by the orbital movement associated with a spinner could only be done with a spinner.

Rolling dice into the centre of the board, bouncing a ball or flicking/rolling discs would give a very different feel to the game. Although any of them would provide a reasonable replacement for the spinning top.

I think the inclusion of a boundary is a very good suggestion, because it allows the players to spin away and use their dexterity to bounce the top around to achieve the resting position they desire. It also acts as a very good spin dampner. Without it the prospect of exiting the board, and excessive spin times, quickly become tiresome.

The scoring card mechanic is interesting and it reminds me a little of the resource hand management mechanic in Catan, albeit as a simplified set collection for rewards. I would tend to agree that the light hearted spinning lends itself to a more lightweight scoring structure than hand management/ trading – but that certainly doesn’t have to be the case.

Bike, your assessment that the tops spin to long is completely true. I encountered the same problem in my design, which also evolved into a fishing theme due to the suggestive float element of the spinner I used for play testing.

I found that the inclusion of a boundary and counters stuck to the board (to resemble rocks and ground) reduced the spin time considerably.

The use of a spinning top or tops in a game has merit, at least I think so. Although the primary problem with focusing game play around the piece is its light hearted nature.

If it’s a kids’ game then it has to offer a playing experience that is simple, but more compelling than just spinning the top on its own.

If it’s a light adult game then the use of the top seems at odds with more involved mechanics if it’s used as more than a random generator or a timing device.

Bike, if you are interested the concept development outline I put together - before I shelved the entry - drop me a PM and I will send over the document. Its a bit long to be included in a post.

bike's picture
Joined: 03/08/2012

Thanks for the long feedback. What I like about thinking about a spinner (or spinning top) is that when designing games in the future, I will think about this element when the option is there. Probably with some dexerity element at the cost of game duration.
I will send a PM, I would like to see what you came up with.

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