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Fox in the Henhouse feedback from Cardboard Edison

I recently submitted this game design to Carboard Edison's contest they were running. Feedback came in late last night. Fox in the Henhouse was not chosen as a finalist but I was able to garner some great feedback. I thought I'd post it here as part of my design journal as I begin working on some of the suggestions that were given.

Hi Dustin,

We have finished evaluating all of the submissions to this year's Cardboard Edison Award, and while Fox in the Henhouse wasn't chosen, we have feedback for you from the judges evaluating it.

Out of 161 submissions, only a handful were picked as finalists, so the competition was extremely tough. (We'll announce the finalists on Monday.)

Hopefully you'll find the judges' notes below useful, and hopefully it encourages you to keep working to bring your game into the world.

Thanks for participating in this year's award, and we hope to see you next year!

~ Chris & Suzanne Zinsli, Cardboard Edison

Judge: Eric Alvarado
What was the game's strongest aspect? The ability to take a fairly simple mechanic and add some depth to it that complements the theme.
What was the game's weakest aspect? I know this is a microgame, but I would almost want the game to focus on 2 players and maximize the cards for the two player game instead of having one set cover up to 4 players. With all of the cards in one game, you can set up another area besides the hand, house, and field that potentially requires the card to be visible. That gives a tad more information thereby counterbalancing in the number of cards being mentally tracked.
Any additional comments? I wouldn't mind giving this a whirl.

Judge: James Griffin @heyjames4
What was the game's strongest aspect? The gameplay is very focused. Don't get the fox. Exploit asymmetrical hidden information to maximize points. Microgames are good at forcing the design to do one thing very well, and this game is doing that.
What was the game's weakest aspect? It seems like turn order will matter a lot in determining a winner. Especially in the last round of a season, the player who goes last has the most information, and the last move that can't be countered. Dropping a fox in a henhouse can swing scores by 3 to 12 points. Although, changing turn order each season may mitigate that.
Any additional comments? In your video you were worried about the appearance of your prototype. Don't worry. It's in fine condition for a game at this level of development. You've got a logo for the backs, a decent layout for the fronts, and your key art for the game on the fox card.

Judge: Lauren W.
What was the game's strongest aspect? The varied powers of non-hen cards are interesting and seem to be well thought-out and balanced.
What was the game's weakest aspect? Having a memory component to games can often limit certain players or give others a major advantage. Have you playtested any variants where there is a way to make it impossible to have perfect information?
Any additional comments?

Judge: Nate Murray
What was the game's strongest aspect? Quick play memory and bluffing games do well.
What was the game's weakest aspect? There are a few issues I have - Some of the role cards reveal too much information when placed back to the board, or should force revealed information to prevent cheating. Thematically, there's a few strange things in the language. 7 days is a season is a strange thing. Why not make the game a month instead of a year if you're keeping 7 turns and 4 rounds. Lastly - this sentence did not work for me. I don't know what it means: two player game a player may not take back a card that was taken from their hand in the previous turn
Any additional comments? It's a good start. The theme is very done, so it may be worth inverting things somehow. Can you put a twist on this? Dinosaurs stealing eggs, hens stealing pies from farmers. Anything but the well-tread fox in the henhouse. It needs help standing out.

Judge: Suzanne Zinsli
What was the game's strongest aspect? Really neat, micro-game. LOVE the theme!!!! There seems to be a lot of game in a few cards.
What was the game's weakest aspect? The scoring seems a bit wonky, I would suggest trying to make it easier to calculate.
Any additional comments? Great job! I hope I get to play this!


Implementing feedback

After going over the feedback I received from Cardboard Edison I'm thinking over some ways to adjust the game. Instead of only using half the cards in the two player game (4 Hens, 1 Farmer, 1 Farmer's Wife, 1 Fox) all the cards would be played (adding 4 more Hens, 1 Dog, 1 Rooster, 1 additional Fox). Two cards would be in the field (as in the 4 player version) and the remaining 6 cards would go face down in two rows off to one side and these six cards would be called the House. In the three player version only 3 cards would be in the House. There is no House in the four player version.

When any of the four Fox repelling cards (Farmer, Farmer's Wife, Dog or Rooster) are used then they are played face up. Once all four cards are face up then the Field, House and all face up cards are gathered, reshuffled and distributed face down again. I've not actually played this new set up but I plan to this weekend.

I'm toying with the idea that face up cards can't be used again while facing up... not sure. I'll have to play it out to know how it feels for sure.

Yes! thanks for sharing this.

Yes! thanks for sharing this. It gives insight into how people think and that is always useful. You already got my feedback from playing it but I will just add that I love the theme and I don't think that the theme needs to be changed.

It is a great little game and I hope someday I can buy a "legit" copy!


P.S. When we did family game night the other night my 11-year-old asked to play it again. Fun times!

Glad to hear it!

As always, I appreciate your thoughts! I make it a habit to try and take in all feedback, consider it in a meaningful way, then after weighing it/testing it decide what feedback to follow and when to stick with my gut. I'm glad you like the theme, that's one of those things I've decided to keep after going over the Cardboard Edison feedback.

I hope to continue adjusting and improving this game until it's ready for publication.

Also, your 11 year old has captured my heart!

Is nice to get such good

Is nice to get such good feedback congrats also good to learn about some of the ways you can promote a game.

Thanks for Sharing

I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates you sharing the industry feedback you received on one of your own designs. There's a lot to learn from someone who shares their experience, at least for low-level folks like me.

Congrats on making it that far, and having your game in front of so many accomplished designers! Not everyone has that kind of opportunity - or courage to follow-through on it. Best of success on Fox In The Henhouse. :)


I appreciate your comments and I'm glad you found it useful. Other than posting the game here on the forum, this was the first time I've had this kind of feedback. I was nervous initially but now I'm really glad to have put the game out there. The feedback was constructive and gave me some new ideas to work on some of the things that came up.

Yeah, I was super impressed

Yeah, I was super impressed with the depth of feedback from the judges.

The feedback I received for my entry in the contest was both super encouraging and provided some great things to think about to make the game better.

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