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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Can this be simplified? rss

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Bob West
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Here is the basic summary of a game I am working on that that constantly gets the playtest note of being “hard”.

There are always five players in the game. The game has five categories (A,B,C,D,E) and each player has a pawn in each of those categories denoting its position on numbered spaces (1-20) and its rank relative to the other pawns (1st – 5th).

The game is played in five rounds. Each round two of the categories will score points. Points are scored based on comparing a player’s starting rank and ending rank in a particular category.

Players’ rankings in each category are altered each round by playing five cards. Each card moves two of a player’s pawns positions, one up and one down. So a typical card could be A+4, D-2, where the numbers change the two pawns' positions, but not necessarily their ranks.

Playtesting is proving that there is a mental overload for new players in looking at both a board full of numbers and a hand full of numbers. Does anyone have any thoughts on how I could keep a game about shifting ranks without requiring so many numbers?
 
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Matt Knaack
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Are players allowed to play the cards on themselves or only against their opponents? Or does it apply to all pawns in the category?

And I think having two actions per card can be kinda overloading... Here are two options that come to mind:

1) Allow players to play two cards each or ten cards per round. Each of the cards would have one action instead of two.
2) Separate the movement into two TYPES of cards: Letters and Numbers so players can make their own combinations instead of being limited to the pairs that are on each card.
 
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Drake Coker
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Hmmm, doesn't sound that hard to process (of course, I haven't played it).

I wonder if replacing the numbers on the cards (A+4, etc) with a number of up/down arrows might be visually easier on the players. It's no different, of course, but if you're looking at a full hand, it might be a bit easier to get a sense of.

Also, does it work if you free up one of the sides? For example, "+4, D-2" meaning that D goes down two, but they can pick which category goes up 4. A small change that would reduce the amount of mental processing by a lot, though I have no idea if the game still works like that.

I also had Matt's #2 idea, though couldn't convince myself that it made things any easier

Is the card choice simultaneous or in turns?
 
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Glenn Martin
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Have you tried testing with the number 3 substituted for the number 5?
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Philip Kitching
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Two actions per card is fine.

The actions also seem simple enough.

How many cards does a player start with and how many do they see during the game? Do they start with ten cards and play five or start with five and play one, draw one?

What happens if two players have a pawn in the same column on the same number?

If multiple players in column A can have a pawn in the same position with the same rank, I'd suggest starting all the pawns on 7 with a rank of 1, then you can ignore changes of rank and just consider the new rank.
 
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Philip Kitching
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I thought of counting arrows, but to be honest it sounds much easier to visualise 7+4=11, 15-2=13 than counting arrows - I'm sure I'd miss some.
 
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Jake Adams
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Olvenskol wrote:
I wonder if replacing the numbers on the cards (A+4, etc) with a number of up/down arrows might be visually easier on the players. It's no different, of course, but if you're looking at a full hand, it might be a bit easier to get a sense of.


I had a similar idea - are the numbers strictly necessary on the tracks? If they have a known value, and starting positions are known, ranking should be visually obvious and not need numbering.

A, B, C, D, and E could also be simplified to colors, so the action cards would simply have like a red circle containing a number and an up or down arrow, and a blue circle containing a number and the opposite direction arrow. That way you are dealing with a different, non-alphanumeric characterization of pawns, and numbering/characters would only be necessary on action cards in a simplified manner.
 
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Carel Teijgeler
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3 options:

- take a look at the rules how those describe the actions to take

- simplify the board; put one row with numbers and 5 empty tracks for the letters, like:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | etc.
A | | | | |
B | | | | | etc.

- find play testers with more intellect. shake

whistle

 
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Bob West
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Thanks to everyone for the input so far. In answer to some of the questions so far:

Each round a player starts with a hand of five cards. In turn order, each player plays one card until all players have played all five of their own cards.

Cards are not played on other players' pawns, but you do give cards to your opponents that become part of their hand. The trick is in knowing when to play the bad cards you have been given and when to play the good cards you have kept for yourself.

I have a mechanism in place that prevents two pawns from ever being tied in any of the individual categories.
 
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Matt D
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Can you get more specific feedback on what is "hard" about it? Because to me this sounds a lot like:



It seems very straightforward to me. Reading over the rules, what sounds like the trickiest part is the scoring is based around relative last position. So please correct me if I am not synthesizing the game right:

Players use cards to move their tokens up and down a 20 piece ladder, with each card moving two of their pieces, one up and one down. Players are tasked with improving their own position the most while mitigating the damage down to their own positions. IE, moving up three spaces to pass one opponent on one row while lowering yourself three spaces on another row but not going below someone is better than moving up five spaces to pass two opponents on one row while lowering yourself two spaces to end up below three opponents on the other, etc.

Now, here's where I suspect it may be going up an order of magnitude in difficulty, if I am reading you right -- and again, without knowing more than people say it's "hard".

At the end of the round, your points are dictated by where you are on the board WITH RESPECT TO where you were the prior round, yes? I am reading this from:

Quote:
Points are scored based on comparing a player’s starting rank and ending rank in a particular category.


Are you particularly married to this idea, or do you think that the game could function with a simple comparison of where you are with respect to your opponents?

Because as I try to conceptualize this game (which I think I really like, at first blush -- boiling down ladder climbing mechanics to its purest form), that's the point that *I* am finding difficulty with. I can totally conceive of looking at a board with five pegs on five different ladders, knowing that moving up and down changes my point potential. Where I think I would lose it and either fall deep into AP or just simply shut down from a mathematical standpoint is trying to figure out how a given move may make me 4th in one color vs 2nd at the start of the round, but the trade-off versus being 5th in a different color and now being 2nd. ESPECIALLY if there are different point scales -- ie, I am better off going from 3rd to 2nd than I am from 5th to 4th.

Does that make sense? Am I reading your synopsis right?
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Bob West
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Matt D -

I'm not sure player reaction is quite like your video, as none of them have ever descended into incoherent babbling, but perhaps they were just being polite.

Scoring currently works like this: At the start of a round the two scoring categories are randomly determined. Then everybody is handed two scoring cheat sheets, each one noting their starting rank in one of the scoring categories. At the end of the round you determine your ending ranks, consult your cheat sheets, and they tell you exactly what you scored. The most points can be scored by moving from 5th to 1st in one round, but if you start and end in 1st you will get more points than the person who starts and ends in 5th. This is my new simplified scoring which is much less mentally draining than the original scoring (posted below), so while scoring might be part of what's making the game "hard", I think it's the card-play that's the bulk of the problem.

The old scoring method was to note (with markers on the game board) your starting position (not rank) in each category, then at the end of the round see how far you moved, do some simple math and that's your points.
 
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Matt D
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I was more just referring to the fact that they seem to be telling you it is "hard" without articulating why, which isn't such helpful feedback. Just a funny scene from a funny movie.

It's hard to say without having seen the game or seen the play test, but from what you say it sounds like the scoring is very complex, and i think would be more likely to me to cause confusion than how to apply card effects. From what you say I think it'd be easy for me to know how to do it, my potential challenge would be knowing WHAT to do.

Anyway, hard to say more without more information, so all we can offer is conjecture.
 
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