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Review Request: "Coal N' Write"

RULES UPDATED TO VERSION 2. Thanks to the input so far!

I'm developing a roll n' write game currently called Coal n' Write for fun and contest submissions, and would love some feedback on my prototype components (well, worksheets) and rule set.

-About the Game-

This is a roll n' write game that takes about 20 to 25 minutes to play. It supports solo games as well as multiplayer competitions.

Quote:
Imagine that it’s the 1870’s, and you’ve just come into possession of a land claim. To your surprise, there’s the beginnings of a mineral mine dug into the side of a hill. You and two of your friends plan to dig out as much of the minerals as you can, cart it off to the General Store, and rake in the cash!

You have cleaned out your savings to buy a bunch of tools and hire six burros for your first foray into the mine. Your goal is to collect and sell as much of the valuable minerals from the mine that you can, and either invest your reward, or bank it for when you go back home. The mining team with the most riches after cashing-in six deliveries wins!

-Direct Links-
Here's a link to the game sheets in PDF form:

http://www.let-off.com/bgames/cnw/cnw-sheets_1d.pdf

Here's a link to the current rule book (version 2, as of this writing):

http://www.let-off.com/bgames/cnw/cnw-rules_2d.pdf

You will also need something to write with for each player, and 3 six-sided dice. You will not need erasers.

Visuals are not finalized, they are merely functional. Please tolerate those as best you can. It's more the legibility of the rules and how well someone can understand them while I'm not there that I need to know.

If you would like to offer feedback or have questions, please do so in this forum or via email (which is included at the top of the rule sheet). Any input you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your time!

Comments

Rules Feedback

Here's my feedback just from looking at the rules:

+ It is unclear from "Check for any pairs. VISIT the General Store, if you want." that visiting the General Store is conditional upon rolling pairs.

+ It is unclear from the "HOW TO CLAIM MINERAL DEPOSITS" section that the sum of the dice results is needed to claim the mineral. "You can use one or more dice whose results MEET OR EXCEED the number printed in the mineral box" could be interpreted to mean that you can use multiple dice, each of which meets or exceeds the number individual (as opposed to multiple dice, the sum of which meets or exceeds the number).

+ I like the digging mechanic

+ For the bandit mechanic, maybe give an example that makes it clear that if you have multiple copies of the most valuable mineral, you lose all of them. I know you talk about how clever the player is for just putting one in there, but somebody who is just skimming for examples might think that you only ever lose one mineral.

+ Strike Gold references the marking of initials in Wash Day, but is explained before Wash Day; maybe you should explain the initial marking in detail in Strike Gold instead and then reference it in Wash Day (since it comes later)?

+ On first reading it, I did not understand from the description of Railroad Shares that each share is tracked separately; my first interpretation was that once any share is purchased, all shares appreciate in value from that point on (which doesn't make sense). The explanation in the General Store makes it clearer that each share appreciates separately from the time of purchase. I would change "Thereafter, Shares" to "Thereafter, that share" to avoid this misinterpretation.

+ Varmint hunting seems really good (from reading it, at least). On average, it pays out $16.5 at the cost of 1 worker, which seems like a lot more than that worker could earn in the mines.

Responses

Thank you for the input, ananda! This is all helpful. Some responses for you.

  • The phrasing and seemingly-small changes to the wording are the main things I was seeking, so thank you for providing such a bounty of them!
  • I'll update the Bandit explanation with two illustrations, keeping the one I have but also adding another example where multiple minerals are stolen.
  • Yep, the "Wash Day" explanation was when I had the General Store perks listed in a different order. You may notice that even though I attempted to put them in alphabetical order, I still missed a couple...! But I'll revise the wording as you recommend in the next update.
  • When it comes to the Varmint Huntin' I wanted players to see it as valuable, even if it has limited use. It looks inflated on the surface, particularly with that "+6" at the end of it. However, there's no guarantee that players will head off to the General Store several times in a game, so in practice the rest of the perks are chosen much more often after Round 1, and Varmint Huntin' becomes more of an afterthought, or "Plan B." It's perceived as having less value, which is an interesting side effect. I have no other explanation for it beyond that, believe it or not. More testing is needed to see if I should tweak those numbers more.

Again, thanks for all the input! If you actually find yourself with enough time and interest to play the game, please let me know how it goes for you.

I'm 90% done proofing

So far the concept sounds VERY COOL! The only thing that bugs me, is the mineral selection. I would use "Fools Gold" (Pyrite) instead of "Tin" to trick the "Bandits"... So instead of stealing your most valuable SILVER, they would steal the "Fools Gold" and of course "Fools Gold" is worthless otherwise (no scoring value). But the Bandits would not know any better such that they would THINK it's real gold and steal it instead of your silver...

I'm taking a break... Figured I'd write something up (Before I resumed my reading of the rules...) I'll provide you with the PDF so that you can review my edits (of course you are free to ignore some or even all the edits). Some of them are about better "wording"...

Like I said time for a break... Get back to the rules soon enough!

Note #1: I'm at the Appendix... So 3 out of 4 pages done. I'm almost done. I know it's ONLY 4 pages. But reading rules is not something that I like to do (Heck I have a hard enough time writing my own! LOL). And usually I'm reading to understand the Game and to see if the writing is sufficient clear enough (also). Give me another hour or so and I'll post for you the link to the revised PDF document...

You'll be able to download it directly from BGDF...

Note #2: Here is my REVISED version... I'm still not completely done. If you can address my questions in this thread... Then I can see if I can complete the remaining 10%.

Revised 1.0 PDF with comments and questions

Cheers!

P.S.: I recommend to DOWNLOAD the PDF and not just view it. It's much clearer to READ from Acrobat than in the browser.

Note #3: I'll try the SINGLE PLAYER variant to see how the game goes. And if I have additional PLAYING questions, I'll add a comment to this thread with those questions. I'll playtest tomorrow...

Note #4: I must admit this PNP Game is pretty remarkable... You really "out-did" yourself with this design. It's compact and neat too. The only thing that I think can be improved upon is the "Mine". I know you "designed" it to be "compact" but I feel "Tin" could be "Fools Gold" and could be a bit deeper.

I think the SIMPLE strategy is to earn $50 and visit the General Store to buy 5 Pistols and remove all 5 Bandits. IDK ... I'm just planning out my strategy for the solo playtest tomorrow...

I'm not clear 100% about all the rules... So I'll expect some insight into my questions to see how to approach the game.

Responses

Lots of good feedback on this, questccg, and I've made a host of improvements. I appreciate your efforts, man!

Here are some specific responses to your questions, both here and in your edits.

  • Regarding Blackjack: After developing the idea, I wanted to make sure that players actually went for it, but not for the easy outcome seen with "Varmint Huntin'." So I amped up the rewards for doing well, and added a more severe penalty for overshooting it. It adds a bit more of a press your luck vibe, and I'm currently willing to test this more to see how receptive players are to the current reward list.

    As for the addition of new minerals to the burro instead of the Ore Stash, this is twofold. First, the primary goal of the solo game is to fill the Ore Stash, but I want that to happen because players should focus attention on the mine. Secondly, there's a thematic piece to this, but primarily I want the player to balance mining Silver, Borax, and more Coal against the rewards offered by the General Store. Again, testing can let me know over time whether or not this is interesting.

  • Regarding Pyrite: you're fixated on this idea, aren't you? :)

    Seriously though, again I have a couple reasons for Pistols vs. Pyrite. Mainly it adds more utility and dependence on the General Store. Additionally, by requiring cash instead of specific minerals, it allows the player some flexibility in how they approach the Bandit dilemma.

Thanks again for your feedback! Thanks to you and ananda, I've made a number of clarifications to the rules text and added in another illustration. If you have any other questions or comments, feel free to post them.

About the Blackjack... and Bandits

What I tried to do is make it the most "standard" type of Blackjack out there. What I mean, it doesn't make sense when you go Bust that you get an EXTRA Bandit!? Nor do you earn more minerals or ore. It's Blackjack...

Make it about monies ($$$) only. Otherwise it's not REALISTIC.

While buying a Pistol makes sense as "gear" ... you should instead have some kind of roll to decide instead of absolute determinism that you have a Pistol, that defeats one (1) Bandit. Why? Because having a Pistol is NOT a "guarantee" ... Your gun could miss the mark or it could jam, you might run out of bullets, etc.

My version would be: A> You can BUY a Pistol for $Y. B>When you encounter a Bandit, both the Player and the Bandit roll a dice. If the player's dice is HIGHER, the Bandit flees the scene. Otherwise the Bandit robs you of ore and takes your pistol.

The Bandits NEVER "disappear"... It's only a way to scare them off.

Another point would be that each burros (that have a Bandit) only have one (1). Same rules apply with the Pistol and Bullets. A player can buy another pistol (if it is stolen) whenever he visits the General Store.

Just some thoughts... I'm just trying to "streamline" the game a bit to be a bit more realistic (in terms of actual western culture).

P.S.: The Bandits always come back! You just scare them away with a lucky shot...

Like I always say, if you don't like it, you can ignore my suggestions. I'm just sharing with you my own thoughts on the game. Feel free to improve or adapt these ideas if you like.

Cheers!

Responses

questccg wrote:
What I tried to do is make it the most "standard" type of Blackjack out there.[...] Make it about monies ($$$) only. Otherwise it's not REALISTIC.
Of course it's not realistic. But it's okay. It keeps players focused on minerals and the limited space on their burros.
questccg wrote:
The Bandits NEVER "disappear"... It's only a way to scare them off.
If I wanted the game to more about gunfighting with bandits, I would definitely spend more time on this aspect. But I want the player to spend more time thinking about the mine and minerals. That's why I've drastically streamlined this particular part of the game. Additionally, if there's a gunfight, I would want it to be between players so that everyone's involved (otherwise there'd be downtime for some, which I -definitely- don't want). But as it happens, this isn't that type of game... Otherwise I'd bust out my copy of Bang!. :)

We might not see eye-to-eye on a lot of this game's particulars, but nonetheless I still appreciate all the time you've put into your suggestions and feedback. You've provided me a lot of opportunities to think things out, and add more focus to playtesting.

No worries

I'm not offended in any way, shape or form. Like I said, you're the designer and you know best what you hope to achieve with/in your design. I'm just giving you my own reasoning for the options that I suggested...

You know that ultimately it is your design. You need to be the one happy with it, not me. I just brought out some points in the design, which to me felt like they needed some work.

Keep up the good work... But I'd personally get more eyes on it...

Bump

Just bringing this one to the top in the hopes I can receive any additional feedback. The rules are updated to version 2, though the player mats and general store have pretty much stayed the same.

If anyone has additional thoughts, or even managed a play-through and you want to share your critique, please do so here. Thanks!

I read through the rules.

I read through the rules.

There's an item referenced in the rules called Tack and Harness that's not listed under the general store appendix.

There's a tiny line at the beginning of the rules that indicates that all players act after each roll of the dice, but a sample round would probably be a good idea. This seems like a very easy thing to miss.

Along with that, is there anything preventing me from copying another player? I guess turn order does?

What use is Work tonic? I give up 16$ (by not shooting varmint) to give every player more turns??

The game seems really good. I think the math is right in most cases. Varmint shooting is way better than buying shares after round 2, and always better than not going to the general store. (The most you can get from 1 die in the mines is a silver which is only $12 minus a possible bandit so approximately $8 on average)

Responses

Thanks for your input, nswoll! I have some responses.

  • I can't believe I left out the description of Tanck & Harness in the rulebook...! I will add this in the next version. Thanks for pointing this out.
  • I'm trying to keep the rulebook to a manageable length, but I will strongly consider adding in a sample turn as an explanation.
  • There's really nothing stopping players from mimicking/copying another, but there's no guarantee they'll end up with the same cash at the end of the game (the difference-maker in a multiplayer game). Particularly if players use Varmint Huntin' every round, there will likely be variance in cash totals (as each player throws dice for this separately).
  • Workhorse Tonic is used only in the single player game. The first milestone for solo play is to completely fill in the Ore Stash, so providing additional assignments for miners can help with this. Because the use of the dice is identical for all players in a multiplayer game, I omitted this from 2+ player games. Same with the Burro #7 and Blackjack perks.
  • I appreciate you detailing some of your calculations/ratios here. I'm likely going to clarify in the rulesheet that players may use Varmint Huntin' once per Round so the focus stays on the Mine instead of the perks found in the General Store.

Thank you once again for your feedback, nswoll! It's much appreciated. :)

Bump!

Just wanted to see if we can get some FRESH EYES on this PNP... It's pretty good and just needs some fine tuning IMHO. If you could review the rulebook and share with us your thoughts... That would be fantastic!

Cheers.

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