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[GDS] September 2012 "I Spy" - Critiques

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sedjtroll
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Use this thread to post constructive critiques of the entries to the September 2012 challenge in the Game Design Showdown, entitled "I Spy".

-Seth

bike
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Evaluation

Secret of the woods (Gold)

I liked the idea, and its elegance. It might be possible to win without actually spying, but by looking what people play.
I doubt it is a good idea to allow the trade of the secret cards. A tactic I might now employ is to score as many direct points as possible, and try to change as many opponents cards towards the end of the game.

Could be the game works without any spying as well. Just by guessing.

Zoologistics (Silver)

The dice seem not to fit in the game (I like games with less luck, I admit). The idea to create a new species, and also, to create the same as your opponents is a nice one.
The choice to either spy or to research is interesting. Depending on the number of different cards it might be difficult to create the same animal as your opponents. Would like to hear some more about that.

Snatch the Cryptic Message (Bronze)

Totally diffent idea than the other four. Very creative. Somewhat similar to the bidding system of bridge, where your partner should guess your cards better than the opponents.
It will be really hard to outsmart the other team when the receive the same information. It might just come down to who has better knowledge of the questions, and who knows where to trust their partner.

DragonMaster (-)

Sorry, did not understand it. Or at least not enough as to see a game with some interesting decisions to be made.
If it helps... I had trouble understanding my own entry as well, when I reread it :-(

ralphthesquirrel
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GDS Sept - Ralphthesquirrel's Comments/Critiques

Thanks to all who voted for Zoologistics. I'll explain my votes first, and then explain my game idea after that.

GOLD: DragonMaster

- This got my GOLD vote because it seemed like the most refined concept. The only thing I was unclear about was the goal (A player is a winner if they have twice the number of camps than all other players). I was unclear about it because I didn't see how you can add a camp. Is a camp determined by # of cards or number of piles of cards? I wasn't sure.

SILVER: Spy'n'Battle

- I thought this concept was pretty interesting. I would have like to have seen a theme but the designer did mention that with changes the original theme no longer fit. The idea of using the grid to place tiles, which would then determine which tiles could be spied on seemed pretty unique.

BRONZE: Snatch the Cryptic Message

- Initially I had ruled this one out but after reading it again I could see how a group of 4 people that know each other really well could have fun with this. The downside is that you are going to spend most of your time placing up to 42 letter tiles on the message tablet each time.

NO MEDAL: Secret of the Woods

- It was a little unclear to me just how this game was supposed to be played. I could see that you are playing a card or drawing a card or performing an action. But I wasn't sure how your secret card really came into play. And the spying aspect of the game seemed really minimal, which is a bummer when spying is supposed to be integral to the concept to fit the theme.

ZOOLOGISTICS: An explanation

- When I read the theme I figured people would jump to themes like James Bond or warfare/military. So I immediately decided against that. And for some reason the idea of creating new animals came to mind. So I jotted down some notes on how new animals could be created. Then I figured that players could be zoologists designing new species while desiring to steal other zoologists species.

- So I decided that players should receive animal trait cards that will determine which animal they are creating. These cards, placed face down, are what other players will be spying on.

- In response to bike's comment about the dice: I wanted the dice to be in the game as a way both to include luck and to control luck. At the start of the game players are not very good spies. After each spying that they do they "get better" at it. So the next time they try to spy and they roll the dice they are able to manipulate one or both of the dice. Thematically this is equivalent to being a better spy. So later in the game players are better spies, which means they can spy on exactly who they want, and exactly which card they want. So while there is luck in the game beginning, that luck disappears and the dice almost become irrelevant.

- What I struggled with was how many trait cards each player should receive. I had the thought that it could be as low as three (doing something like Head, Body, Legs) or as high as 5 (Head, Body, Legs, Trait #1, Trait #2). This is something that could be figured out via playtesting.

Thanks again, and thanks for reading!
- Ed (ralphthesquirrel)

bike
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More thoughts on Zoologistics

Hi Ed,

Some more thoughts on your game.

About the dice, I understand. Getting better by choosing to spy a lot makes sense.

After succesful spying an opponent, and you know he is making an elephant with wings and zebra-stripes it would still be very hard to meet the win condition: make one yourself. You will be hard pressed to find those three cards. And if you make the same animal, you both score not too much points for it. Since the animals is in two zoo's.

I would suggest using as few animal (parts) to make it work. For instance have 5 animals, and 5 traits which can be applied to all animals. If you spy on someone who is "working" on the same animal as you, you receive the traits he already has for free. This adds up to your traits, meaning your animal will attract more visitors.
(If you do not have that animal, go buy it, and spy again)

Other idea is to have players remove animals from the lab, and put them in the zoo. This should means that other players can no longer get free traits by spying. Even though the player can also add no more traits to the animal.

In the end the player with the most traits on all his animals wins. Where animals that are simply less special than one other animal are not counted at all. Who is interested in a zebra with wings if someone else has a zebra with wings and the nose of an ant-eater?

Regards, Bert.

Avianfoo
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ralphthesquirrel wrote: GOLD:

ralphthesquirrel wrote:

GOLD: DragonMaster

- This got my GOLD vote because it seemed like the most refined concept. The only thing I was unclear about was the goal (A player is a winner if they have twice the number of camps than all other players). I was unclear about it because I didn't see how you can add a camp. Is a camp determined by # of cards or number of piles of cards? I wasn't sure.

Thanks for the vote of confidence. As written here I am not happy with the goal of the game. It basically became what it is due to lack of words. (I could write so much more) The other goal I thought of is the first to have say 10 points where points are obtained by capturing opponents cards and placing them into a central "jail" or "trophy" room.

Sorry about the confusion on my entry. The one confusing part is that the Compass cards and Coat of Arms cards are both types of Strategy cards. (The indentation is lacking).

ralphthesquirrel wrote:

ZOOLOGISTICS: An explanation

- What I struggled with was how many trait cards each player should receive. I had the thought that it could be as low as three (doing something like Head, Body, Legs) or as high as 5 (Head, Body, Legs, Trait #1, Trait #2). This is something that could be figured out via playtesting.


At this rough stage of game creation, the best you can do is guess. Then as you say, do playtesting and see how it goes. I gave zoologistics a gold as well since I really liked the idea. Some comments tho: What constitutes a "successful" spy? Do you always get spy points when you attempt to spy? Regardless, I liked the ability to change your die rolls with spy points. So the more you spy, the better you are at it. Or you could concentrate on getting your own critter done and be a bad spy.

To others, sorry I couldn't give proper feedback the games deserve. Its' been a bit tight lately.

ralphthesquirrel
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RE: More thoughts on Zoologistics

Thanks for the comments Bert.

I like what you have to say about limiting the number of traits and about trying to obtain those spied traits on your own. I suppose that if you spy and see what someone else is making you should be able to make the same thing. The idea of adding traits to attract more visitors makes sense.

You're right, who would want to see a zebra with wings when you can go to a different zoo and see a zebra with wings AND the nose of an ant-eater.

This is good stuff!

- Ed

ralphthesquirrel
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RE: Comments by Avianfoo

About DragonMaster, I like your idea about putting opponents cards in jail (or a trophy room). That seems to make more sense and I think would work better as a game.

About "successful spying" for Zoologistics: My idea there was that either based on the dice roll or based on your spying capabilities sometimes you could fail to spy. Like if you rolled snake eyes for instance. It could be that to successfully spy you have to have a combination of dice numbers that match another player's animal. If you don't match them, then the spying failed. If you do match, then you can spy and you gain spy points.

Thanks for your comments,
Ed

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