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A Holiday Polyomino Roll & Write, 2-4P

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SDHokie
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Hello Everyone,

I would like to introduce my early prototype of a holiday Roll and Write I am designing for my company party. Of course, I would like for playtesters to provide feedback on the game. You simply need two D6 dice with values 1 through 6 and pencils.

In [Holiday Game] (I need a title...) players are workers in Santa's workshop packing toy boxes into crates as they come out of the production line. The toy boxes come in different shapes, and therefore strategic placement is required of players in packing the toys into personal crates. The more complex the toy box, the more points are awarded to the player.

Played over three rounds, players aim to earn the most points in each round to impress Santa. The winner of the first two rounds gets to set in place a rule that takes effect in the remaining rounds. Players do their best to avoid overfilling their crates and leaving voids in their crates as this negatively affects their score. The player awarded the most points at the end of three rounds wins Santa's employee of the year...or whatever the final theme leads to.

The PNP version can be found here. There are three files to download and print. The "Cart Page" is the personal player page. Print one per player. The "Toy Chart" is the main reference board. Print on 11 x 17" if you are able to. The "Rules" document also contains the above two documents attached in the PDF. If you have trouble, simply download the Rules here and use the attachments embedded therein.

Included in your feedback I'd like to know

1. Time to learn the rules.
2. Time of play.
3. Can you teach this game verbally in less than 5 minutes?
4. How original is this idea? Is this a far enough departure from similar Roll and Writes?

General feedback is open to all comments. Note that toys will be drawn in the polyomino tiles on the toy chart. Players will draw those toys in their grids in addition to drawing the toy box borders. Gameplay is the same for all numbers of players, 2 to 4.

Thank you, and I look forward to your questions and responses.

Jay103
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How does it make any

How does it make any difference whose "turn" it is? Looks like it's just "the person who gets to roll the shared dice". The only thing I see is that you can only "opt out forever" on your turn, which seems dubious at best. I'm not even sure that's a good rule to have.

For something like a 12-roll, is there a real difference in difficulty between the 1-point and the 4-point? Even for the 6-7-8 range, I'll clearly be putting down higher point scores unless I'm almost out of space, because one 4-pointer is better than three 1-pointers. A four pointer and a discard is the same as two 1-pointers...

And ironically, the lumps of coal in the toyboxes on the later rounds just give you spots to put those "trickier" 4-point pieces..

SDHokie
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Thanks, Jay103

Jay103 wrote:
How does it make any difference whose "turn" it is? Looks like it's just "the person who gets to roll the shared dice". The only thing I see is that you can only "opt out forever" on your turn, which seems dubious at best. I'm not even sure that's a good rule to have.

For something like a 12-roll, is there a real difference in difficulty between the 1-point and the 4-point? Even for the 6-7-8 range, I'll clearly be putting down higher point scores unless I'm almost out of space, because one 4-pointer is better than three 1-pointers. A four pointer and a discard is the same as two 1-pointers...

And ironically, the lumps of coal in the toyboxes on the later rounds just give you spots to put those "trickier" 4-point pieces..

Hi Jay103. Thanks for the feedback.

Turn order on rolling the dice is similar to Railroad Ink. It doesn't matter...in Round 1. In this game, it matters when the new rules come into play. The rules introduced in later rounds pertain to the person rolling the dice. See the rules in the Toy Chart. They are specific to the person who has just rolled the dice and affect the choices of the other players.

Regarding opting out (of a round, not the game), a player may be content with their crate for that round. Any more rounds beyond their turn they risk overflowing the crate. I am giving the player the chance to say "I'm out this round" while allowing others to continue rolling if they want to continue filling their crates. Once all have opted out, the round ends. Maybe on average players opt out in the same round, but every crate is different so I don't want a single player to end the round for everyone. It's also my way of adding a press-your-luck element. Maybe you want to stay in and score some tiles before backing out, with the risk of overflowing.

The difference in difficulty shows up in different ways. At the beginning of each round, we want those bigger tiles. You are correct in that. However, toward the end of a round players will start to feel the pinch (as you mention) and may only want a smaller tile versus a larger tile that won't fit. Back to Railroad Ink--and surely other Roll and Writes--it really comes down to the last spaces that the decisions and luck have prominent effects. Also, with the introduction of new rules, we may not get to pick the toys we want. Only in Round 1 is it a free-for-all with no restrictions.

In general, but not strictly, the points per tile increase with increasing number of blocks. Also, the "complexity" of the tile increases, i.e. the shapes get more unusual. Finally, the more common dice rolls involve simpler shapes while they generally get more complex with the rarer dice rolls.

Good point about the coal. I am not sure how much easier or difficult it will make tile placement. In my head, I was aiming for A Feast for Odin tile placement where part of the challenge is leaving those spaces untouched (you have to) and completely surrounding them for effective point achievement.

I hope that clarifies my intentions. Though, I acknowledge that it doesn't disprove your comments. Let's see what the others say. I appreciate your response.

Jay103
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You almost never want more

You almost never want more pieces, though, right? You want fewer.. you can always get more later by "pressing your luck", and if everyone else opts out, you then have total control over how many rolls to do.

Therefore..

Quote:
"You Shouldn't Have" - Only once per round, a player on their turn may give their toy to another player. The receiving player must draw or discard the toy and scores accordingly.

"And YOU Get A Toy!" - On a player's turn, other players may add the dice roller's toy to their choice. The dice roller gets two (2) points for every player that chooses to add the toy.

Players should always choose to give their toys away to other players, and should never add a toy voluntarily unless it's maybe a perfect-fit four-pointer and then they can go out. So I'm not sure what these rules cause in practice.

Also the "same same" rule is a bit ambiguous.. is that an extra toy or a complete replacement of the normal draw scheme?

Also, how do you "give away" a toy in a roll-and-write scenario? Make sure you've shaded each toy differently and then carefully erase one?

SDHokie
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Good points, Jay

To your first comment, I'm not sure I completely understand. You must draw a toy every roll with the exception of the later rule that let's you give it away, if it is in effect. Ignoring the later rule, your cart will fill up no matter what. Efficient placement will slow that process, but approaching a full crate, you can either bow out or press your luck that later turns will give you something you want. If everyone bows out before you, you must draw a toy for every roll you do, which you are not in control of. If I am the last player rolling and I roll a 2, those toys might all be too big for the space left in my cart. I have to then fill a discard spot. I can certainly keep rolling but my cart is very likely full and I don't want to keep rolling and discarding. At some point I will want to give up before losing more points. Is that addressing your comment?

"You Shouldn't Have" - Always being able to give away toys--with the rule in effect--I feared would make it too easy for players to escape tiles they don't want too often. This is a good element to monitor during playtesting, though. The current design is such that players must choose wisely when to use this opportunity. We'll see if my intention plays out, or if players indeed want what you say. Thanks for that.

"And YOU Get A Toy!" - This is modeled after a card in Viticulture/Tuscany. Like you said, players should only add the roller's choice if it is fitting. That's the point. The catch is that the roller benefits from the number of players who choose to use this rule. You indeed stated the intention of the rule.

"Same Same" - The choice of the roller is a complete replacement. All players must play that toy, not add it to their personal choice. Comment noted for Rules revision. Thank you.

Giving away a toy here means you do not draw it. You "give it" to another player who must draw it. The action happens before the rolling player draws. Also noted for clarification in the Rules.

Thanks Jay. Happy to keep the conversation going.

questccg
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Winter Workshop

SDHokie wrote:
In [Holiday Game] (I need a title...) players are workers in Santa's workshop packing toy boxes into crates as they come out of the production line.

I'd call it "Winter Workshop". That's my contribution... The alliteration works for this Game Title. "Santa's" Workshop is used by THREE (3) different games. I checked this out... Just to see what could be unused.

I personally think the title is CLOSE enough to "Santa's Workshop" without being explicitly so.

If you don't like "Winter Workshop" (I really think it sounds good...) well feel free to find another Game Title.

Best of luck with your Game!

SDHokie
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Thanks

You can't go wrong with alliteration in a fun holiday Roll and Write. I like the title. Will absolutely consider. Thanks for the suggestion :)

Jay103
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SDHokie wrote:To your first

SDHokie wrote:
To your first comment, I'm not sure I completely understand. You must draw a toy every roll with the exception of the later rule that let's you give it away, if it is in effect. Ignoring the later rule, your cart will fill up no matter what. Efficient placement will slow that process, but approaching a full crate, you can either bow out or press your luck that later turns will give you something you want. If everyone bows out before you, you must draw a toy for every roll you do, which you are not in control of. If I am the last player rolling and I roll a 2, those toys might all be too big for the space left in my cart. I have to then fill a discard spot. I can certainly keep rolling but my cart is very likely full and I don't want to keep rolling and discarding. At some point I will want to give up before losing more points. Is that addressing your comment?

"You Shouldn't Have" - Always being able to give away toys--with the rule in effect--I feared would make it too easy for players to escape tiles they don't want too often. This is a good element to monitor during playtesting, though. The current design is such that players must choose wisely when to use this opportunity. We'll see if my intention plays out, or if players indeed want what you say. Thanks for that.

My first comment relates to the "you shouldn't have" rule. I don't see why you'd ever NOT give away a toy.. it seems like it's always a benefit, because it screws your opponent (and you can make sure you give away something that's a poor fit.. heck, you could intentionally get an awkward 1-point toy with the intention of giving it away).

Quote:
"And YOU Get A Toy!" - This is modeled after a card in Viticulture/Tuscany. Like you said, players should only add the roller's choice if it is fitting. That's the point. The catch is that the roller benefits from the number of players who choose to use this rule. You indeed stated the intention of the rule.

I'm saying I would almost never use it, if at all. I hope that's not the intention :). There's no benefit to finishing the box first.. in fact, it's basically a penalty. So why would I ever take an extra toy. A "lose a turn" card would be a bonus in this game.

Compare with a game like Quixx, where finishing faster gives a benefit.

Quote:
Giving away a toy here means you do not draw it. You "give it" to another player who must draw it. The action happens before the rolling player draws. Also noted for clarification in the Rules.

Ah yes that was unclear, though my point about usefulness still stands :)

SDHokie
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Jay103 wrote:My first

Jay103 wrote:

My first comment relates to the "you shouldn't have" rule. I don't see why you'd ever NOT give away a toy..

Exactly. Players should want to take advantage of this rule if it is selected. I decided to allow it only once per player so it isn't abused and to limit the "take that" nature of the game. But this rule can certainly be used to screw over another player. To make sure I understand you, are you saying that you are ok with this rule but you would prefer it wasn't limited to one use per round?

Jay103 wrote:

I'm saying I would almost never use [And You Get a Toy], if at all. I hope that's not the intention :). There's no benefit to finishing the box first.. in fact, it's basically a penalty. So why would I ever take an extra toy.

I'm hoping that each game is different enough such that one rule is only more beneficial than the other based on the circumstances of a specific game. Does that make sense? The intent of this rule is that it may be the just the tile you need. It is up to you if you want it badly enough to allow the roller to benefit as well. Maybe it's a 1-point tile but you are in the lead and are ok with the roller getting two points. Maybe it's a 4-point tile and you want those 4 points with the roller of course getting 2 points.

I think if the game overall turns out to vary enough from game to game, then no one rule will be better than the other. It will depend on the circumstances of the particular game being played. Hopefully more playtesters weigh in and this comes up as a topic again. With more feedback, the general arc of the game will start to show.

That is what I am hoping for all of the added rules, actually. If the arc of the game is too defined (no variability) and it is clear which rule(s) is/are more beneficial than the other then there is certainly some tweaking to be done.

I appreciate your feedback. I definitely want more players to weigh in on this.

Jay103
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SDHokie wrote:Jay103

SDHokie wrote:
Jay103 wrote:

My first comment relates to the "you shouldn't have" rule. I don't see why you'd ever NOT give away a toy..

Exactly. Players should want to take advantage of this rule if it is selected. I decided to allow it only once per player so it isn't abused and to limit the "take that" nature of the game. But this rule can certainly be used to screw over another player. To make sure I understand you, are you saying that you are ok with this rule but you would prefer it wasn't limited to one use per round?


Just clarify to once per player for the entirety of round 2. The available frequency wasn't clear to me, and if it's usable more than once it's a bad rule (because you'd just give everything away)
[/quote]

Quote:
I'm hoping that each game is different enough such that one rule is only more beneficial than the other based on the circumstances of a specific game. Does that make sense? The intent of this rule is that it may be the just the tile you need. It is up to you if you want it badly enough to allow the roller to benefit as well. Maybe it's a 1-point tile but you are in the lead and are ok with the roller getting two points. Maybe it's a 4-point tile and you want those 4 points with the roller of course getting 2 points.

Other than personal preference, I can't imagine how I'd choose one rule over another based on something in the game itself, since each round resets.

The Game Crafter
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Are you considering

Are you considering submitting it to our contest? https://www.thegamecrafter.com/contests/tgc-staff-roll-and-write-challenge

let-off studios
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Rule-Making

SDHokie wrote:
I'm hoping that each game is different enough such that one rule is only more beneficial than the other based on the circumstances of a specific game. Does that make sense? The intent of this rule is that it may be the just the tile you need. It is up to you if you want it badly enough to allow the roller to benefit as well. Maybe it's a 1-point tile but you are in the lead and are ok with the roller getting two points. Maybe it's a 4-point tile and you want those 4 points with the roller of course getting 2 points.

I think if the game overall turns out to vary enough from game to game, then no one rule will be better than the other....

That is what I am hoping for all of the added rules, actually. If the arc of the game is too defined (no variability) and it is clear which rule(s) is/are more beneficial than the other then there is certainly some tweaking to be done.

I appreciate your feedback. I definitely want more players to weigh in on this.


It sounds to me like the rules are there to move the goal-posts, as opposed to helping someone do better at the game itself. Maybe this is why you are hearing things like, "I don't know why I would choose this rule, ever" or, "This is a bad rule."

Typically, when the current leader and/or person who is in the lead chooses an option, it's done as a reward. The way the rules are written and presented here, it seems like it adds a layer of challenge instead.

  • Is that what you want to have happen?
  • Have you seen what it's like when the person furthest behind the leader chooses the rule to implement?
  • Are there other things you can do to add other strategies to scoring well, besides optimally-placing the pieces in the cart?

Personally, I'd like to see the different shapes represent different things instead of just featureless blocks. For example, in each set of four, there could be sports equipment, musical instruments, toy cars, candies, etc. Players could be rewarded by having the most of a particular category, or one of each, and so on. So not only do players want to choose high-value pieces, they may also want to pay attention to the composition of their entire cart as well.

Jay103
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Well said. Why would I choose

Well said. Why would I choose one rule over another? Moving the goalposts for later rounds is fine, but I don't see where I'd have an advantage by choosing one or the other.

questccg
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You hit the nail on its head IMHO

let-off studios wrote:
...Personally, I'd like to see the different shapes represent different things instead of just featureless blocks. For example, in each set of four, there could be sports equipment, musical instruments, toy cars, candies, etc. Players could be rewarded by having the most of a particular category, or one of each, and so on. So not only do players want to choose high-value pieces, they may also want to pay attention to the composition of their entire cart as well.

Exactly! This would ADD a "Set Collection" mechanic and would ENHANCE the complexity of decision making just a TINY bit. I've been following the discussion (in diagonal) ... And out of everything being discussed, THIS to me sounds like the best idea (to implement). It would be pretty simple and it could be a little like games with alternative tracks.

You could simplify it "just a bit" by doing something like this:

Quote:
The player with the most of ONE (1) set earns a +5 Victory Bonus to be added to his score...

In a low player count game, this might mean you could have this bonus for MORE than one (1) set... Like maybe 2 or 3. In a higher player count, certain players may get 1 or 2 sets and other players none... For example...

This means in a two (2) player game ... You could score +10 or +15 VP bonus to your score! In tandem with the higher scoring gifts...

TO ME it makes the whole "selection" process, just a bit more "challenging". It's about getting the most costly gifts but it's also about the categories too.

That's my 5 cents...

SDHokie
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Thanks for the feedback

let-off studios wrote:
It sounds to me like the rules are there to move the goal-posts, as opposed to helping someone do better at the game itself...

Well, it's not much move the goal posts but to add strategy and depth to the game each round. The new rules apply to everyone. It's just a bonus for the previous round winner that he or she gets to choose the added rule. All players get to use the rule so it isn't necessarily benefiting the last round's winner. Does that make sense? I could clarify this in the rules.

let-off studios wrote:

  • Is that what you want to have happen?
  • Have you seen what it's like when the person furthest behind the leader chooses the rule to implement?
  • Are there other things you can do to add other strategies to scoring well, besides optimally-placing the pieces in the cart?

  • Yes, I simply want to add a layer of challenge. All players get access to the new rule. The reward is simply that the last round's winner gets to choose which challenge to add.
  • Since each round starts with a new crate, no one player has a starting advantage. But to answer your question, no, I have not tried the game with the last person choosing the new rule. I would hope that doesn't add an incentive to play badly in order to be the person to choose the rule. No harm in testing this out, though.
  • There is certainly an opportunity to add depth in scoring! For now, I am designing the game for my company party so I don't want to add too much depth. My colleagues are not board game players and I need to teach the game as quickly as possible as this is played before or during appetizers at a restaurant. After the party, I would absolutely love to add more scoring opportunities in further development.

let-off studios wrote:
Personally, I'd like to see the different shapes represent different things instead of just featureless blocks.

I should have mentioned the intention is to have toys drawn in the tiles at design completion so your desire for actual toys is absolutely going to be in the game. It will certainly allow for other scoring opportunities in later development, as I mentioned. This is a prototype, so I am focusing on the tile placement. The aesthetics can come later, as you know.

Jay103 wrote:
Why would I choose one rule over another? Moving the goalposts for later rounds is fine, but I don't see where I'd have an advantage by choosing one or the other.

There is no advantage. Two rules are presented for each fresh round adding variability to each full game played. If anything, players will read the rules and perhaps the rules will strike up fun conversation or banter. The intent, for whichever rule is chosen each new round, is to induce player interaction, both in strategy and of course conversation. Multiple rules to choose from means every game is a little different. That is all I am going for. In one word, variability.

Jay103
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My response would be that a

My response would be that a choice where there's no discernible benefit either way isn't much of a choice. Might as well be a coin flip, in which case it would be even better for the designer to choose one :)

SDHokie
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Jay103 wrote:My response

Jay103 wrote:
My response would be that a choice where there's no discernible benefit either way isn't much of a choice. Might as well be a coin flip, in which case it would be even better for the designer to choose one :)

I understand. They might as well be randomly drawn rules. I am trying to apply them in the same way random goals are drawn in strategy games, whether at the onset or upon starting new rounds. Having them all out to choose from without offering incentives for the choosing player isn't much of a reward.

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