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Balancing a game enjoyable game for both adults and children

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slivnica
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Joined: 09/15/2017

Hi all,

Designed a game for my wife for Christmas, but have found my kids enjoy playing it more then adults. Here is the game I designed.

Name: GemBlock
Players: 2
Ages: 8+
Pieces:
2x pawns
1x dice
10x blocks
14x gems
Time of Play: 15-20mins

Board Layout: The board is 12x12 grid setup, with a maze type system.

How to play: Players both are allocated 5 blocks and 7 gems, players must place their allocated gems anywhere on the board, but not near their starting position.

Players each roll the dice to determine who goes first by rolling the highest.

Once play begins the first player rolls and moves their pawn to collect a gem if possible. Second player does the same, roll and move. From this point players are able to place their blocks to stop their opponent from moving forward, thus they must find another way around. ONE MAJOR RULE HERE: PLAYERS CAN'T TOTALLY BLOCK THEIR OPPONENT FROM MOVING, THEY MUST ALLOW AT LEAST ONE EXIT PATH.

When a player collects a gem their turn is over and are not allowed to move anymore until their next roll.

When players pawns are faced with each other, they enter a mini battle, by rolling the dice in a best of 3 highest score wins. The winning player isp00 able to choose a gem as reward. The losing player misses a turn.

If a player is blocked by their opponents block, they have the ability to obtain that block. They must indicate they want to obtain that block, then they must roll the dice 3 times attempting to score 14+ points, if they are successful they take the block, if unsuccessful they must place one of their gems back on the board.

To win the game all gems must be removed and the player with the highest amount of gems wins.

Any suggestions that could assist in balancing the game out would be a wonderful help.

wob
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Joined: 06/09/2017
hi. your rules seem nice and

hi.
your rules seem nice and simple. i can see exactly how it plays (i think) without a physical game or a phd.

just off the top of my head...
be a little more specific with the rule you cannot place the gems (at the start) near your home. how near is near? a simple fix would be to have coloured zones on the board, red for one team in one corner, blue for the second etc.

have you tried with a higher player count? it might require a little scaling (mostly gem/block count) but it could add extra value and let you play as a whole family. you could also play in teams with 2 pawns per colour (red 1, blue 1, red 2 blue 2)

the mini battle looks unfair. the winner should get a bonus or the loser should get a penalty but not both. your current rules are effectively punishing the loser twice for a bit of bad luck. a compromise could be letting the winner choose weather to punish or take the bonus.

finally could different gems do things? maybe put a red gem back on the board to add an extra block? blue gems are worth double?. this might be unnecessary and i haven't really thought it through but it could add a bit of extra strategy for the adults.

Tim Edwards
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Joined: 07/30/2015
Hi, I can imagine that's a

Hi,

I can imagine that's a fun game. I really like the strategy in moving blocks to change the maze.

I have a couple of suggestions which may or may not be useful:

Rolling and moving to collect gems = cool as far as I'm concerned. But, for me, that would be enough dice play. I would consider resolving mini-battles differently, perhaps in a way that isn't random. Maybe pawns come in 3 flavours (think rock, paper, scissors in a more dungeon themed way), so the outcome of the battle will be know - but the randomness comes in as to whether you'll roll high enough to catch/ avoid your opponent.

Perhaps getting killed kicks you off the board and you have to re-enter from a set point, a la Ludo - or your opponent gets to plant you where-ever they like.

I don't think I quite understood exactly how the moving of blocks works. But Is rolling to obtain a block necessary? How about you're able to just move any block at the start of your go? Maybe that would work too. Or you can trade a gem for block-moving rights? Just trying to think outside the dice here...

But I am absolutely NOT against rolling to move around the maze! In fact, you game seems like it would have a similar atmosphere to a wonderful old computer game called Maziacs (1984 or something) - which someone has since attempted to render as a board game, but I'm not sure how successfully.

Having said that about Maziacs, in the computer game battles were resolved randomly (with a greater chance of success if you picked up a one-use-only sword)...but the movement wasn't random so it was kind of balanced. In your case, since the movement is random, perhaps other things shouldn't be (just to repeat myself.)

wob
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Joined: 06/09/2017
i second tims RPS idea but i

i second tims RPS idea but i would just use your normal pawn and play a single round to determine the winner. or use the odd even game (no idea what its really called) where one player calls odd the other even (you can set this at the start) and on 3 both players reveal 0-5 fingers, the total number of fingers will be odd or even, giving a winner.

removing a beaten pawn is also a nice idea. if each side had a limited number you would have a bonus win condition. you could also completely block a pawn to remove it. (but i think your rule is there to keep it more kid friendly)

moving blocks shouldnt be easy, but not impossible either. your way seems fine (and all my ideas are pure theory) but maybe you can only move a green block if you have a green gem? trading a gem to move/remove a block seems counter productive (i suppose it depends on how hard it is to collect gems) but it could be useful to block your opponent. maybe you can remove the block if you roll 14 and give it back to your opponent or pay a colour matched gem to keep it to use yourself.

Jay103
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Joined: 01/23/2018
slivnica wrote:Ages:

slivnica wrote:
Ages: 8+

Quote:
When players pawns are faced with each other, they enter a mini battle, by rolling the dice in a best of 3 highest score wins. The winning player isp00 able to choose a gem as reward. The losing player misses a turn.

...

then they must roll the dice 3 times attempting to score 14+ points, if they are successful they take the block, if unsuccessful they must place one of their gems back on the board.

So first of all, I suspect the reason adults don't like it is that it's pretty random. It has the look of a pure strategy game like checkers, and then you roll dice to see who wins, randomly.

I'd remove that. Or at least dramatically mitigate it with some strategy, where the attacker (or defender) has some advantage.

What is the purpose of the "14+" thing? Even if you wanted to leave this weird randomness in the game, that's VERY close to the odds of rolling a 6 on one die. So why three dice? Especially given that the game only comes with a single die!

(by the way, this also applies to the pawn battle randomness.. the game includes a single die, that gets rolled 3 times each by two players in each battle? WHY? If you really want that randomness, how is best-of-3 better than best-of-1, and why wouldn't you ship with two dice?)

But overall I don't see how having a 1/6 probability of success enhances the game. Does anyone over the age of 8 ever choose to do that?

You could also consider a handicapping or asymmetric system, so that adults have harder time winning than kids do. When I play MasterMind with my daughter right now, I only use 4 colors of pegs, not all 6.

edit:

Okay, just went up and read the other responses now, and yeah, Tim agrees :)

Quote:
Rolling and moving to collect gems = cool as far as I'm concerned. But, for me, that would be enough dice play. I would consider resolving mini-battles differently, perhaps in a way that isn't random. Maybe pawns come in 3 flavours (think rock, paper, scissors in a more dungeon themed way), so the outcome of the battle will be know - but the randomness comes in as to whether you'll roll high enough to catch/ avoid your opponent.

ArkhamArkhiver
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Joined: 12/08/2018
I am reminded of Tsuro for

I am reminded of Tsuro for some reason, and my immediate thought for more balance and strategy and less randomness would be replacing Roll-To-Move with a deck of cards that contain Tetris-style shapes. For example, the classic L shape on a card can be rotated four ways to give your four different moves, and since your game takes place on a 12x12 grid, many of the shapes could be used to navigate the maze. Maybe have a max hand-size of three, to keep things simple for the kids?

You could also change up the 'combat' by keeping the dice, but letting players add to their dice value by discarding a card, increasing their combat value equal to the number of spaces that card would have let them move. For example, the L shape would be +3, if we use the Knight movement pattern from Chess. There is also the trade-off of winning combat vs keeping your movement cards for future use. You can also use this mechanism to discard movement cards that won't help with the current maze setup.

slivnica
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Joined: 09/15/2017
Thanks guys, I certainly have

Thanks guys,
I certainly have something to work with here. Hopefully I can create a great game for all ages.

wob
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Joined: 06/09/2017
hi. heres a slight variation

hi.
heres a slight variation on roll and move that might work on your game (i have been trying to fit it into something but havent found the right game).
using a d6 instead of a pawn, roll at the start of the game. when moving you tip the die onto a new face to move over squares, but you can only move the number of squares your die showed at the start of your turn.
so if i start with a 2 and move forward 2 spaces my die now shows a 5 (and i can move 5 spaces next turn). but if i start with 2 and move forward then left i get a 6 (or another number depending on the original orientation).
i dont know if you can use this (the size of the die and squares need to match for a start) but it could add an extra layer to your game.

slivnica
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Joined: 09/15/2017
Wob, Interesting concept I

Wob,
Interesting concept I would like to give it a try and see how it goes. It would be an unusual and dynamic feature of play.

Tim Edwards
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Joined: 07/30/2015
wob wrote:hi. heres a slight

wob wrote:
hi.
heres a slight variation on roll and move that might work on your game (i have been trying to fit it into something but havent found the right game).
using a d6 instead of a pawn, roll at the start of the game. when moving you tip the die onto a new face to move over squares, but you can only move the number of squares your die showed at the start of your turn.
so if i start with a 2 and move forward 2 spaces my die now shows a 5 (and i can move 5 spaces next turn). but if i start with 2 and move forward then left i get a 6 (or another number depending on the original orientation).
i dont know if you can use this (the size of the die and squares need to match for a start) but it could add an extra layer to your game.

There's a game that does something similar - can't remember the name. Everyone has a character token (actually 2 of them), trying to escape a dungeon and a random (sort of) wandering monster. Number of squares you can move is on the face-up side of the token. After each move, you flip the token. Your token might have 1 and 6, 2 and 5, or 4 and 3, etc.

Anyone recall that game?

wob
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Joined: 06/09/2017
as a bonus when two dice meet

as a bonus when two dice meet they will both have a combat value on them.
for younger players i would have a spare d6 so they can work out whats going to come up. it is quite difficult to do in your head.

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