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[GDS] NOVEMBER 2013 "The End is Near" - Critiques

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bike
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Die race 2000 - critique

A good implementation of the unexpected game-end. And with 2 fair warnings upfront. The pointcalculation I like. Not choose the highest value, but the value that occurs the most.

In most push-your-luck games you know where you are when option for another card/dice-role. Here you only know the number of dice, but have no clue if it is going to be a great role, or not. That is luck you cannot really push.

I see some ideas from other games that might work here:

  • Players could throw 3 times with the dice, and put some dice aside.
  • Have one of sides of the dice contain the 'bomb'. Players can decide when they want to make a sprint, but they loose every dice with a bomb on it. Once there are some number of boms thrown - by all players - this round ends.
anonymousmagic
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The Housing Bubble - Critique

This game was another one that just lost out on my top 3 by just a few points.

I felt that by using the cards, the ending of the game was not as unexpected as the contest rules required, which meant major loss off points in the limit section. However, a game about the economic crisis is bound to carry plenty of uncertainty and merging that with an auction mechanic meant more points on theme and mechanics.

I did have the same question as the previous poster, though. What is more important if players tie: luxury or debt? Since the whole game is about earning money, I would say debt, but that would clearly negate the effort of buying or collecting luxury items...

Limit: 5 points; Theme: 9 points; Mechanics: 7 points; Rules clarity: 7 points; Components and profit: 7 points; BONUS: 8 points; TOTAL: 43 out of 60.

KrisW
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Die Race 2000 Critique

Die Race 2000 40
- Comprehensibility 5X4=20
- Playability 3X3=09
- Theme 4X2=08
- Marketability 3X1=03
Notes:
This seems like a good enough game for a rainy summer afternoon. It isn’t the sort of game that excites me, which is the only reason I didn’t score it higher. Personal taste – sorry. The mechanics, instructions and balance are excellent.

Comprehensibility: This is mechanically simple, draw dice, decide whether to roll or not, move car. The thrill comes from storing up gas for a big roll vs. the danger of loosing it all. Despite the simplicity this is not a game for all ages because understanding the large payoff for storing up gas might be difficult for very young players. Especially with the explosions.

Playability: Very playable but players might tire of it quickly. It is distracting but not enthralling.

The ratio of 40 gas dice to 3 bombs was well chosen, just enough to keep the players tense but taking chances. I think the number of players should affect the game greatly, but the number of dice should not change. As the danger of explosions between an individual player’s turns go up with the number of players so does the opportunity for a very silly level of machismo (and machisma) posturing.

Theme: The wasteland death race theme is a good choice. This game could be fit into a lot of different scenarios, but the death race is fanciful enough to be fun. You might want to consider other scenarios for different audiences.

Marketability: Some games are able to distract worried or over burdened minds and I think this one could serve that audience. You might consider ‘marketing’ this to hospital waiting rooms, juvenile detention centers, or funeral homes. I hope you don’t feel put out by this idea. I truly think the ability of any sort of entertainment to help someone through bad times is no small thing.

This seems like the sort of game that is played as a distraction while waiting for something. You might want to figure out some way to play this in a car or the back of a school bus. This might even make a good war zone game. That said, with as many dice as this game needs and the speed at which they will get lost, dropped and generally underfoot, you might want to look into using either rubber or a Nurf type of material for the dice.

Kroz1776
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This one was awesome!

Ok, so I think I gave this one my bronze but the more I think about it, it should have gotten my silver. This game's rules are simple, yet elegant. The way the movement is determined helps mitigate some luck (you get to multiply the result by the number of dice rolled AND the number of dice of the number chosen rolled).

I love the implementation of the competition criteria. They were implemented flawlessly. I also love the rule that if there is a tie, the person who drew the last bomb wins. This means even if you're in last, you still have a slim chance of winning. This game is right there with Pass the Pigs in seriousness and I believe is already a complete game, ready for testing I guess, but I think that with only a little testing this game would be ready for market.

Now for the bad...this game is light, and by light I mean super light, BUT this means that it only doesn't appeal as much to me as other games. I prefer meaty games and this game isn't meaty but that doesn't make it a bad game. In fact that's the charm of the game. So, my negative, is a positive! So, I don't really have anything bad to say about this game.

Dagge Games
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My silver

I gave this game my silver medal because I actually wanted to play this game. At least a couple of times. The rules are simple and the game is sort of complete. My brother who just read through the entrants, but did not participate rated this his favorite.
It is very light, as said before, so for me as a gamer it´s not a very interesting game, but as said, for a couple of times I would love to push my luck in this game.

I think the criteria of the ending is implemented in the game. Good job!

anonymousmagic
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Die Race 2000 -- Critique

This game received my bronze medal, but now that I look closer, it should probably have gotten the silver...

I loved the simplicity of the game rules for this one and I also enjoyed the fact that it wasn't merely luck. You can, if you want to, calculate the chances of drawing a bomb ahead of time and take your sprint on the turn before the risk becomes too big.

I do think that you need to do some checks to make sure that the game is balanced enough, because you don't want people to draw piles of safe dice, throw sixes and reach the end of the wasteland in one uncontested sprint.

The only thing I didn't like is letting the person who drew the last bomb win in the case of a tie for first place. It just didn't seem to make any thematic sense. I'd let the tied players draw dice until one of them hit the 4th bomb...

Limit implementation: 10 points
Theme: 7 points
Mechanics: 7 points
Rule clarity: 10 points
Components and profit: 6 points
BONUS: 7

Total score: 47 out of 60!

Corsaire
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Die Race 2000

This was my bronze pick. Even if the end mechanic wasn't completely new, I like that it is possible for the game to end the first round. Largely I appreciate that this is a complete game and ready to play with thoughtful PnP instructions. The dramatic potential of a great scoring run and how ballooned success can really alter the play for others was another nice point.

There is a challenge with it being a lightish game that might be a bit more expensive due to the number of dice involved.

There are some interesting design questions this presents to look at further tuning:

Example, currently you pick a die, then decide whether to run. The tactics and drama shift differently if you do your run before you pick your dice. I think that change enhances the stressor.

Stretching a bit you could see a turn as two phases where in each phase you can pull a fuel cube or take a run (obviously a waste to run twice.) Still essentially the same mechanical game but with a bit more depth and reducing the slowness of building your fuel to the "tough decision" zone after an explosion.

The dice are another interesting design point. You could roll all the dice as described, but what if you rolled a die when you pulled it? How does the game change? Suddenly your stakes are quite visible, and another player may change their decisions if they see three of a kind sitting in your tank.

The math is the roughest part of the game, partially that some people may balk at the three number multiplication for a light game, and partially because the actual number on the dice is not one of the factors which can only confound things.

And a special thumbs up for the allusion to one of my favorite cult classics, Death Race 2000.

mindspike
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Rattle, rattle, BOOM!

#5 Die Race 2000

Rush 'N Crush gets regular play at my house; I'm generally in favor of any type of machinery that makes a lot of noise and travels at a high rate of speed.

(+) I love rolling big bunches of dice, and the possibility of suddenly vaporizing in a massive explosion appeals to my sense of the dramatic.

(-) I don't feel the racing theme is a good fit for the mechanical requirement, and because push-your-luck games are tactical instead of strategic the implementation of the required game ending feels weak. Scoring is needlessly complicated with the three-die multiplication. The game seems more suited to simultaneous play than to rounds of action. The theme is not strongly tied to the action, as the racing is abstracted; the author even states you can simply score with a pad and paper instead.

(*) I wanted to give this one a higher score, because I really like the theme and the basic mechanic. But for this particular challenge, I felt it was a mismatch.

disaac
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Die Race 2000 feedback

Thank you all for the wonderful feedback, critiques and suggestions.
I appreciate them all and will probably be starting a separate thread in the next week or so to cover further thoughts and updates on this game.

KrisW
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Monkey Business Critique

Monkey Business 42
- Comprehensibility 4X4=16
- Playability 5X3=15
- Theme 3X2=06
- Marketability 5X1=5
Notes:
Like Spoons – except it makes more sense. Like Mancala except. . . well, maybe not. This takes silly to new highs. I like this game. The two ways to end the game is quite elegant. Designing a seemingly mindless game is not easy. Congrats!

Comprehensibility: My only question is whether the players all plunk bananas in the cups as fast as they can, or does the plunking go round the circle one at a time? Since dexterity seems to be a part of the game I assume plunking each person plunks as fast as he can.

Playability: This seems very easy to play but not appropriate in a wide variety of groups. It would fit in well any time one might play Pigmania. Somehow I assume beer is involved, but I’m not sure how.

Theme: Monkeys. Bananas.

Marketability: This is probably the most marketable game among those entered into this month’s contest. I think this game would sell very well in a college setting with no other alterations. It has everything needed to become a money making fad item.

Great as an ice breaker, stress reliever, party game, just an all around entertaining piece. This is probably more of a sophomoric sort of game, literally for college sophomores, and not the kind of game one plays with the parents.

With that in mind, maybe the black banana shaped pieces should be referred to as ‘Poo’. This would both up the ante for immature craziness and be more in keeping with actual primate behavior. Crazy idea here – make all the bananas out of candy. First you play with them, then you eat them. Especially fun and gross if you go with the ‘poo’ idea.

Kroz1776
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Hi Ho Silver!

This was my silver. This wasn't the best game out of the bunch, but the constraint was built into the game beautifully. This is even lighter than my bronze pick but I felt like that was ok since it was designed to be light. While light games aren't my thing, I'm here to judge the game on it's merits, not whether the style of game is my favorite. I don't really have much more to say on it. KrisW's review of it is pretty close to my own.

bike
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Monkey business - critique

Banana chaos. Possible suitable as party game, but as it is, I think the replay-value is low. Or put it differently, it is not my type of game. The sudden end is well build into the game, and the players might have some idea who is ahead during the game.
For me (is it the age?) it seems almost impossible to remember which cup(s) have the most bananas. If you cannot do that, the game becomes random.

mindspike
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Do the monkey mash!

#6 Monkey Business

I like flinging bananas as much as the next guy. This teeters one the very edge of crazy fun, and I'm going to have to introduce a version of it to my buddies.

(+) The required mechanic is built very naturally into the flow of the game. The action appears smooth, and the themeing is very amusing. This should appeal to those who are immature, meaning kids, college students, and me. :) For a quick party game, the pieces just beg to improvised with pretzels and red solo cups. Variations on play beg to be explored.

(-) The action seems like it could get a little too frenetic, and players could easily lose track of their black bananas. Game appeal is fairly limited, strategic options are non-existent, and replay value is questionable. This is light, even for a game intended to be light.

anonymousmagic
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Monkey business - Critique

Although this game ended in the bottom regions using my scoring system, I don't think that makes it a bad game. It was just a little bit too chaotic for my liking. If two or more people shout stop simultaneously, I want a tie-breaker to decide who goes first. Also, if I empty the first cup into player 1's bag, is the next player allowed to do the same?

If so, that would significantly lower player 1's chance of drawing a rotten banana and his chance of winning the game, which, for me, is a gamebreaking idea. After all, they're supposed to say stop on a rotten banana, so none of those get passed around. Still, the limit of the competition was very well implemented.

richdurham
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Winners keep winning?

I love the concept of this game as it plays to all age groups. But the unanswered questions may be too severe to have picked this as a winner:

  1. Do I take only 1 banana from my bag at a time?
  2. If I am lucky enough to draw one first, that means I take the cup with the least bananas and get have a higher chance of drawing a black banana next time, too. The other players' bags are now diluted with other bananas. So the winners (by luck) keep on winning?
  3. The variable win condition is random, for sure, but it gives no more urgency to the game than I would have had the entire time. Since each time the black banana is pulled there is a redistribution of bananas I really want to pull those bananas fast. All the time. The end doesn't matter.

That said, I think this would go down with an under 10 crowd very well.

Kroz1776
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Last Castle, Gold!

The Last Castle seemed like an incomplete game. Placing pieces on your castle with the level of the rooms giving you points didn't seem special but I saw the rules as a basic foundation of the game. The criteria, I thought, was well implemented. The true shining quality of this game is the possibilities in it. I can see these different rooms unlocking abilities for the players. This opens up the possibility of expansions with different rooms that will expand play. This game is filled with potential and this ultimately was what gave it the gold.

anonymousmagic
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The Last Castle -- Critique

This was the game that received my gold medal. Why? A combination of factors contributed.
It received the third highest score on the implementation of the contest requirements, but it also scored very well on theme clarity of the rules. Actually, it scored well across the word, which is why it went away with my gold with just 1 point of difference against the number 2 on the podium.

Limit implementation: 9 points
Theme: 9 points
Mechanics: 7 points
Rules clarity: 10 points
Components and profit: 8 points
BONUS: 8 points

Total received: 51 out of 60 points!

disaac
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The Last Castle feedback

This one ranked pretty high on my list. It was a mostly complete game which you could pretty much start to play immediately based on the rules. There were a few things I was confused about in the rules such as the card counts, levels, and scoring.

For example, what does the "(8)" mean in the following:

Quote:

1. Servant’s stairwell (8)
4 each – Kitchen, Scullery, Larder and Dungeons

It also seemed that there may have been something missing from the game rules. Whether this was due to the word limit, the time limit, or just something that could have been added but wasn't I am not sure. But I am interested to see how the game develops if you continue to work on it.

Congratulations on the tie for Silver place.

P.S.> Monkey Business feedback:
I know that I typed up a feedback for Monkey Business, but I do not see it in this list. I probably hit preview without actual;y hitting save. Sorry. Well, it seems that most of my thoughts on that game were covered by other peoples reviews, so for now I will just leave it at that.

Great work everybody on all of the games, the feedback, and the organization and running of the competition.

Corsaire
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Last Castle

Scored high for me, silver I think. I liked the sense of theme and morbidly amusing ending tie in, but as seen on others Item X drawn from the random set has been a common approach to the sudden ending. The mausoleum exception upped the value of the endng for my play interest.

It seems to have a nice sense of depth, story, and construction for the deck size. Reminds me of Raise the Roof. I'm mildly concerned on whether there is much tactical or strategic play to it, which can be fine to a point. For some reason, without doing mockups or simulations, I have a hard time playing through it in my head.

Sorry, may have had more thoughts, but been on the road for two days for holiday travel and may be more muddled than normal.

KrisW
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Response to Critiques

Thank you for all the kind words! This challenge has inspired me to work more on this one.

Kroz1776 wrote:
The Last Castle seemed like an incomplete game.
True, due both to editing back for word count and keeping within the challenge’s restrictions. That, and not having figured things out yet.

Kroz1776 wrote:
I can see these different rooms unlocking abilities for the players.
That’s a good point. Right now there are just rooms, but I’d like to expand this to give players more interactive powers and strategic options. I’m thinking I can add Intrigues to the level cards, so that there are enough levels so no one gets stuck, but they don’t become annoyingly useless cards to draw late in the game.

disaac wrote:
... I was confused about in the rules such as the card counts, levels, and scoring.
For example, what does the "(8)" mean in the following:
Quote:

1. Servant’s stairwell (8)
4 each – Kitchen, Scullery, Larder and Dungeons

I screwed up on an edit and removed an important phrase. The ‘8’ indicates the number servant’s stairwell cards in the deck. The ‘4 each’ and list of 4 room types indicate there are 16 room cards for rooms that can be accessed through the Servant’s Stairwell. Thank you for catching that.

Corsaire wrote:
I liked the sense of theme and morbidly amusing ending tie in... The mausoleum exception upped the value of the ending for my play interest.
I added the Mausoleum specifically to give the ending the sort of inevitable uncertainty called for, plus that little extra wobble in the end game. I’d like to thank Mindspike and his wife for inspiring it.

Corsaire wrote:
It seems to have a nice sense of depth, story, and construction for the deck size.
There is a story world behind this game, I’m aiming for the feel of a dysfunctional court on the eve of revolt. For this challenge I was struggling to keep the deck size closer to the standard 52 cards (only off by about 50 percent - sigh).

Corsaire wrote:
Reminds me of Raise the Roof.

I’m not familiar with that game, thanks for pointing me towards it.

Again, thank you all for the comments.

bike
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Last castle - critique

My silver medal.
Easy to grasp game. Take card, play or discard card. Build levels in proper order and build rooms. There is a game that resembles this game quiet a lot (for those of you who speak dutch - Kris? http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/35330/het-tom-poes-spel). Good child game, very luck dependend because there is not much you can do if you do not draw the level "1" card, or, the next level that you need card.
In Last Castle the luck element is slightly less since the rooms can be build in between.
I do not like the Mausoleum-rule, if only because it gives influence on the clear ending moment.

I agree with Kroz1776 that this game could improve by giving meaning to the rooms. Extra options to take cards for instance. The "Tom Poes" game is able to (transferred themewise to Last Castle) block stairs, tear down a level, have players skip a turn.
Kris, send a PM if you want to know more about it.

richdurham
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Last Castle

I quite like the thematic bent to a standard building game and how it incorporates the random end game condition. I would have liked for one of these games to have an end even more like Bingo, where the random game end occurs because a single player has crossed some slightly-changing threshold to be the winner. In most of these entries, like The Last Castle, the game ends randomly like the context says and then afterwards points are added up to see who wins.

I saw I your comment that you had difficulty with the word count, which seems a common issue. The 500 words are very capable of fitting a description to a "complete" game, and it serves you best to think of it as an opportunity to reword for clarity rather than simply "cut" parts.

That said, there are parts here that could be cut, like the names for all the rooms at each level. Then again, I think it helped add a bit to the sense of theme enough to include one or two examples. The extra words can be used on explanation.

I hope this game gets a little development after the contest, because it's got a good sense of using theme and mechanics together.

richdurham
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What a ride!

I want to thank everyone for a great November GDS!

With 7 entries and over 80 comments in the critique thread over the week I think we can all walk away happy with the feedback. Designers, you can still post a new thread to continue developing your game if you wish.

In another week it'll be time for the December GDS, and I hope everyone who participated returns to play again. Based on the number of entries we get, we might need to adjust the critiques to focus only on a few entries so we don't all get "comment fatigue." That is, unless, you all feel like this wasn't too strenuous a week?

How about it - would you like to see daily critiques next month, or focus on the top three, and maybe the last place entries?

Thanks again, everyone!

anonymousmagic
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I feel everyone who makes an

I feel everyone who makes an effort to enter the competition deserves to get feedback, but if you get a lot more entries next month, putting them all into the same thread might become a bit too messy. Maybe you can simply encourage entrants to start their own threads after the scores have been announced, so I can focus on giving feedback to the people who really want it.

I'm happy to comment as long as I actually have to say something about an entry.

Kroz1776
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5+

If you have more than five entries, I'd say encourage everyone to create their own thread. This helps not only unclog this thread, but then you have all your feedback for your game in one location. I actually have to copy and paste all my feedback into a word document just so I have it in one easy to access location.

KrisW
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More Cowbells

Critiques on Critiques
I’m not so hot on the idea of cutting back the number of critiques because there’s no good way to decide who does or does not get one. The designers of the high rated games want the critiques, the designers of the lower rated games need the critiques, and everyone involved learns by critiquing both games they liked most and games they liked less.

What do you think of running two or three threads of critiques a day instead of one?

richdurham wrote:
I saw I your comment that you had difficulty with the word count, which seems a common issue. The 500 words are very capable of fitting a description to a "complete" game, and it serves you best to think of it as an opportunity to reword for clarity rather than simply "cut" parts.
I may whine about that limit a lot, but I absolutely agree with you. Given my druthers I’d hit 120,000 words and whine about not being allowed to write a trilogy (…probably one of those four book ‘trilogies’, too). The 500 word limit is an excellent learning process and needs to stay.

richdurham wrote:
I hope this game gets a little development after the contest, because it's got a good sense of using theme and mechanics together.

Thanks. I’m going to start a thread on this project. In theory I have a lot of extra free time this week. Practically speaking, there’s a lot of cleaning, cooking and entertaining to do.

Speaking of which - Happy holidays to all!

Dagge Games
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Monkey Business

I have been busy for a couple of days. Not able to write any critiques.

Monkey Business did´nt scor high in my opinion because of the randomness of picking bananas and tossing them in the cups. I don´t have much to add to the other written critiques. The game could probably be very fun to play "just out of head" By that I mean for example a late night with friends a bit tired, making up a game while playing the game sort of.

Dagge Games
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The Last Castle

To be honest, I sent my votes before this game was even published. (my first GDS:-)
I read through the description of the game and thought it was pretty nice. It did´nt interest me that much, but the game seemed well-functioning and the description was well written. I thought of maybe changing my votes. I don ´t know why I did´nt do that, but I just never did. If I had done it, this game would at least get the same amount of points as my game did. and probably even more, cause I would probably give it silver or gold.
Because of this I would like to dedicate my "victory" to "the Last Castle" Congrats on a very good game.

The criteria was well built into the game. Not very original maybe, but it works well.
The game seems straight-forward, but I am not sure if there are interesting choices of which card to build? You have 5 cards in hand, and you play or discard one every round. it is 4 of each type of card, each player can play only one of them. Is it not possible for every player to kind of just build the "same" castle with the same kind of levels and rooms? Maybe I have misunderstood something. I also see some issues with the castle. If no player can build a level-card or room-card at a higher level after a chapel is build. What if a player gets "lucky" and draws and builds a chapel on level 1 early in the game?

As mentioned by others above, it would probably be great if each level and/or room gave some advantages besides 1 point per level/room. Maybe you also should score points out of the types of combinations you have?

I think the game has good potential, I would therefor probably given it silver or gold if i had bothered (sorry) to give new votes.
Congrats.

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