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Feedback Please: Gemessengers

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let-off studios
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[EDIT: this game has been updated, and although the summary below still makes sense, the game is much more polished after a handful of revisions. Please offer some feedback on the current rulesheet if you can. Thanks!

http://www.let-off.com/bgames/gemessengers.pdf ]

I've put together a rulesheet for a prototype and I was hoping I could collect some feedback on what I have so far. This game is early in development, but I have a fairly clear idea of what I want to do with it. It's kinda like Sushi Go! with pattern-building more so than matching. Here are some details:

  • I want to make a game that uses a single deck of cards, and needs no additional components (using fewer than the standard 54 cards is okay, as it does with this current version).
  • I want the game to be on the lighter side, nonviolent, and accessible to a casual game-playing audience.
  • The theme is not set in stone, it just seemed to work with what I had in mind at the time I was starting things off. I am completely open to other considerations, barring things that don't match with the above criteria.
  • I've currently done solo playtesting with this, made a few tweaks, but generally speaking, the game is sound and the center holds.
  • I am concerned that the game is too light, and doesn't allow for much planning (that is, I dare say it's too random: a perennial "feature" of many of my game designs these days). I'm wondering what players can do to plan ahead a bit more. If I can nail this, then I will feel much stronger about this design.
  • Any ideas for the three remaining cards? I could use them as a reference, but the instruction sheet could stand in, instead.

Here's a link to the draft of the rulesheet I put together:
http://www.let-off.com/bgames/gemessengers.pdf

Any thoughts? Please share them here. Thanks!

Jay103
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Well, first I'd say to use

Well, first I'd say to use names of actual gemstones, or just use regular colors (yellow and green, not gold and emerald.. also, gold is not a gem :) ). If you want actual gem names:

Red: Ruby
Orange: Amber (or Citrine if you're a purist)
Green: Emerald
Purple: Amethyst
Clear: Diamond
Blue: Sapphire
Yellow: Topaz

Anyway.

I like the theme. I think it would be hard to do this game with a different theme, actually. What, building spaceships out of pieces? Yuck. Everyone likes gemstones.

I hate the tiebreaker. Might as well just flip a coin.

There is a LOT of randomness in this. I'm not sure what strategy looks like at all. Play a 2x if you have one, otherwise.. random? Having the 3x gem be secret makes this very random (but revealing it would just make it less random but more straightforward, so less fun)

I'm ASSUMING that the "secret stash" card is one I kept, not one I got from the guy next to me on the final turn of the round? Because that's the only strategy I see here.. In round 2 (and 3), if you have a card that matches a card you already stashed, stash it if it's not worth 2x.

let-off studios
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Re: Colours, Randomness

Jay103 wrote:
Well, first I'd say to use names of actual gemstones, or just use regular colors (yellow and green, not gold and emerald.. also, gold is not a gem :) )
Yeah, I know. I had a metallic gold marker though, and wanted to use that instead of "plain old yellow" in my prototype. :)

Thanks for the feedback Jay103. I'm still struggling with the intensely random nature of this game. I have a designer's meeting this weekend so I will see if anything can be altered between now and then.

Ready and willing to consider any additional suggestions, everyone. Thanks!

Jay103
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A few more thoughts..The

A few more thoughts..

The strategy SHOULD be something like the strategy of Yahtzee. This is undermined by the fact that you're getting cards passed to you, so you're rarely getting any 2x gems after the first placement, and you don't know what the 3x gem is.

If you remove the card passing and replace it with a card draw (hmm, I think you need to get rid of the secret 3x as well), then you can add in strategy.

Something like: Randomly choose and display the 2x and 3x gems for the round. Everyone draws a card (can be simultaneous) and chooses where to put it. Repeat 5 more times. Score it.

Now you have limited information and when you get a 2x gem, you have to figure out where it goes...

Maybe works even better with a 0x gem :)

I mean, actually there's not even any need to have the random choice of the 2x and 3x.. You can just assign permanent values to the gem types..

Okay, maybe that's not the game you had in mind any more.

let-off studios
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Rework In Progress

Thanks again for your suggestions, Jay103. I had a playtest session today, and will have another one this evening, and the game has been reworked in a few ways. To sum up:

Players determine the value of different gemstone types in the headstone, decoration, or base by placing the corresponding Wish List card next to the indicator for the Headstone, Decoration, and Base (this area is called the Guild). So a gemstone will be worth 1 point unless it's in the corresponding row shown in this matrix. Players earn points for adding cards to this matrix (because they lose a chance to place a gemstone in their piece of jewelry when they do so).

After tonight's playtest, I will revise the rules, and anyone interested in offering some feedback will be welcome to chip in.

questccg
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Shapes seem to be off?

I'm just a bit "confused" about the various shapes: Circlet, Pendant and Scepter... Here is my version, each with eight (8) cards.

Tell me what you think???

Cheers!

Update: I know you have "multipliers" for various cards... Read the next few comments... I just figured more representative layouts for each of the jewelry that you are crafting would be better.

Again feel free to ignore if you don't like it or feel that it may be difficult to "adapt"...

questccg
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Multipliers (not sure anymore...)

Okay so the shapes are a bit more "complicated". But I still feel that even IF that is true, you can still create "multipliers" for this to work. Maybe a BIT adapted... Here's my version and you can decide what works best for you!

Circlet:

Bottom cards (3) = x1
Middle cards (2) = x2
Top cards (3) = x3

Total = 3 + 4 + 9 = 16

Scepter:

Bottom cards (2) = x1
Middle cards (3) = x2
Top cards (3) = x3

Total = 2 + 6 + 9 = 17

Pendant:

Bottom + Top cards (2) = x1
Left + Right cards (2) = x2
Middle cards (4) = x3

Total = 2 + 4 + 12 = 18

Something like that might be possible to "adapt" the scoring and keep with your existing "multiplier" idea.

Cheers!

Note: The only "difference" is that each of the jewelry have eight (8) cards instead of only six (6). Now that may not seem major ... but it could have a "slight" impact on the game. It's up to you to determine if you like what you see or not. (Similar with the multipliers as all three shapes have different scoring values too)

questccg
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About the "gems" or "components" (if you prefer)

I know you wanted it to be about "Gemstones". But at the same time, you had included "Gold" as a "component".

The Circlet: "Gold" can be used in compass positions of the "Circlet" (NE, NW, SW, SE).

The Scepter: "Gold" can be used in the three (3) linear positions of the "Scepter" (Vertical Line).

The Pendant: "Gold" can be used in compass positions of the "Pendant" too (N, S, E, W).

Sort of like a PATTERN within another PATTERN... Again just some general ideas that I had when reading over your rules. The "Pattern" aspect struck me as being something that could have a DUAL meaning...

questccg
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A bit of thinking like Jason

Just a bit of "component" thinking, and I get a similar table like Jason:

[2 Points] Red: Ruby
[1 Points] Orange: Amber
[0 Points] Yellow: Gold
[2 Points] Green: Emerald
[1 Points] Blue: Sapphire
[1 Points] Purple: Amethyst
[2 Points] Clear: Diamond

And "Gold" in the right "position" is worth [3 Points]! (For the Pattern within a Pattern...)

questccg
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Use the "pattern" within the "pattern"

Instead of it being as per the "shape" of the jewelry... I was thinking more in terms of the "pattern" within the "pattern".

"Gold" in the CORRECT position is worth 3 Points! But "Gold" is a bit scarce since there are only 6 of that "component" (as per your design).

My suggestion, pump it up to 60 (which means 24 "Gold"): so 6 of each (36) + 24 "Gold" = 60 "component" cards. Because "Gold" is NOT a gemstone and the availability of it is higher than the other gemstones, I would assign it a 0 point value on it's own... Only when it is in the "correct" position does it score 3 Points!

Again feel free to ignore or like these ideas. They're after a review of more of the rules... And closer in philosophy with your "original" game.

Cheers!

Mensian
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more on pattern

The theme of this game is fantastic!

I would use "pattern in pattern" as questccg suggested. Instead of "wish list" that shows unwanted gems, I would print on them some patterns for extra points. Such as: "two emeralds in a row" or "Sapphire-Diamond-Ruby" in a column, "Emerald in right slot of a row", "3 of a gem in any order" etc. Simple patterns, so players can make multiples of them with clever strategy.

I don't like your drafting mechanism. If players reveal their cards one by one, you have eliminated the most powerful strategic possibility: HAND of cards. (In your hand you can collect various gems for various patterns.)

what about this kind of trading cards:
You have hand of X cards. Choose one and give it to your LEFT neighbour. At the same time you will get a card from a player to your RIGHT. Repeat this 2-3 times. After, repeat this 2-3 times in reverse order (get from left and give to right). Finally, put all your cards (except one - as in your original idea) in the pattern to make the most points. (Variant: you can choose the pattern, don't have to use the "bracelet".)

Jay103
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I like the simplicity and

I like the simplicity and straightforwardness of having three rows of stuff. You've got your top row. You've got your middle row. You've got your bottom row. Consistent and clear.

let-off studios
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Update, ver 0.2

I've updated the PDF of the rulesheet based on the playtests from this past weekend (it's at the same link above). Here's a summary of changes:

- Two distinct regions to play cards: the Workshop (to build jewelry) and the Guild (to influence prices).
- Players assemble jewelry as before, using Gemstone cards.
- Proclamation cards replace the "wish list" cards from previous iteration, and players deliberately choose to play them in slots for the Headstone, Decoration, and Base.
- Removed score multipliers for simplicity's sake.
- Prestige Tokens added for players to earn a consolation for when they add cards to the Guild instead of their jewelry. Players who finish their jewelry before others collect a Prestige Token until all players are complete or Tokens are exhausted.
- I've updated the names of the Gemstones for consistency. "Topaz" instead of Gold, "Sapphire" for Blue, "Ruby" for Scarlet, etc.

Next update for the rulesheet will include visual examples of these processes:
- adding Gemstones to jewelry in the Workshop;
- adding Proclamations to the Guild and earning points;
- scoring at the conclusion of a Round.

I'm staying with the simpler patterns for the time being. However I did research into "the 7 basic principles of jewelry design" over the weekend, and may find ways to incorporate that into scoring mechanics. However, I'm not interested in turning this game into a points salad.

I'm not too dissatisfied with adding Token components to the game, as they were necessary for the additional dimension of the Guild. It breaks my "one deck of cards" rule, but I think it's worth it.

Any feedback on this newer iteration? Please share. Thanks!

let-off studios
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Update - Version 0.3

I've made a significant update to the rule sheet, and have a prototype on the way from The Game Crafter using my placeholder artwork.

Please have a look if you can, and feel free to provide any feedback you like. Here's the link:

http://www.let-off.com/bgames/gemessengers.pdf

Rules now include:
- updated graphics for the Gemstone and Proclamation cards
- illustrated examples of adding cards to the Workshop (player area) and the Guild (to adjust Gemstone values)

Thanks in advance. :)

Fri
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Draft type of jewelry

The game set up leaves me wondering if there is some make what type of jewelry draftable. Think about the ramifications if you allowed players to collect gems until they they draft a type of jewelry and then make them place the gems a soon as they draft and then follow the placement rules you have defined.  Players would have an interesting choice each round whether this is the round to take a the best type of jewelry available or continue take gems to maximize flexibility.

My idea about how to implement this would be to place cards representing the different types face up on the table. The number of cards  would be equal to the number of players or number of players plus one. Then deal the gem cards as normal. Then take a different set of cards from 1 to the number of players and deal one into each hand. Players can daft one of the types of jewelry by playing this card. Ties for playing the draft card in the same round at resolved by the highest number card going first. If you thought about it I bet there is a way to have the same cards have all three uses.

let-off studios
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Pattern Choice

Fri wrote:
If you thought about it I bet there is a way to have the same cards have all three uses.
You propose an interesting wrinkle. Players are commissioned to create three different pieces of jewelry over the three Rounds, but there's not necessarily a reason for them to all make the same one at the same time.

I'm running out of cards, though. :) I used my two remaining cards from the 54-card deck to make play aids. So more components may not be the way to do this.

Two possible options off the top of my head are:
- Evenly-distribute the three patterns across the Gemstone card backs. There are six of each suit of Gemstone, and three different patterns/Jewelry, so it could be evenly distributed and still not give too much away to the other players when they're used.
- Allow players to build their Jewelry "on the fly," and on scoring rounds mark down the type of Jewelry they had crafted. They would still be required to make all three types before game's end.

Option one would end up taking a specific Gemstone out of circulation for that Round, which may present some unforeseen ramifications. It would also be interesting to see players glancing periodically at the backs of the cards in their hand while playing... Considering the cards are drafted, this could provide some tension. Maybe they take the card off the top of the draw deck when they choose a pattern?

Overall, although it's an interesting decision, I wonder if it adds to the game enough to be worthwhile. I'll have to playtest the second option above, as this is the one allowing the quickest implementation.

Thanks for the nudge, Fri. :)

let-off studios
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Video Pitch

In preparation for a design contest entry, I cut together this explanation pitch video. It's not the "how to play" video (which is required for phase two of the contest), but it does give a general overview of the game.

If you're interested in seeing it, have a look here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXQSxaSWXZs

Fertessa
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Good job on your video. I've

Good job on your video. I've been looking up pitch videos for the last 24 hours because I need to figure out how to make one in the next two days lol. So thanks for sharing, and good luck with the contest!

let-off studios
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Thank You!

Thanks for the well-wishing. I have a sneaking suspicion you and I are entering the same contest...! I was thinking the entries were due this past Sunday, and only after I crammed to have a video done by the close of the weekend did I learn we have a couple extra days.

Best of success on your entry, Fertessa! :)

Fertessa
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Thank you! And yes I suspect

Thank you! And yes I suspect we're talking about the same contest indeed. :) Hope to see you in the 2nd round!

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