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Subject: Horse Racing Game - mechanic ideas? rss

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Jay Sears
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Hi,

Ive designed childs game aimed at 4-6 year olds to learn about addition and subtraction. However it is a little drab, so if anyone had ideas to make it more fun but not overly conplex please jump on board.

The game board is a race track with it split into segments to move your playing piece around. There are apples and mud on some segments, as well as actions including "race to the nearest horse in front of you" and "race forward 3 spaces".

The mechanics are simple. You roll the dice and move your playing piece the number of spaces indicated. If you land on an apple you add x amount onto your next roll. If you land on mud you subtract x amount on your next roll. The mechanics are kept flexible where players can choose to use 1 or 2 dices according to their level of ability. If using 2 dices the ammount to add or take away is increased.

For example, if a 6 year old has a good level of subtraction and addition they would use 2 dices and can decide at the start of the game the amount to subtract or add throughout (ranging from 3-5). If the other player is younger and they have less skill at maths they use 1 dice and can choose the amount ranging of 1 or 2 to subtract/add.

Do you have any ideas on making it more exciting?

A few I think are too cliche and not keen on are: shortcuts, using a spinner with colours and using cards.I prefer tokens over cards for children games.

I was thinking of having spaces with carrots on and a player collect these. When they land on mud they can use the carrot token to avoid subtracting on their next roll.

 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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What I would do:
-- each player rolls 2 dice, but only uses the results of 1 die
-- the race track has more than 1 "lane" ... maybe 3
-- using the inner lane would be the shortest path around the track; but it would often be full of competitors... and perhaps a lot of mud
-- the outermost track is the longest path around the track, but would be closest to the cheers of the fans (who may be offering up apples)

-- the player must move the exact number of spaces as the die chosen. They must avoid occupying the same space as other players as they move, which may cause some to change lanes as they move.
-- however, if it is unavoidable, a collision occurs. each of the two players roll a die. Player with the higher roll remains in his space, the other player moves to an empty space behind.
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Jay Sears
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Stormtower wrote:
What I would do:
-- each player rolls 2 dice, but only uses the results of 1 die
-- the race track has more than 1 "lane" ... maybe 3
-- using the inner lane would be the shortest path around the track; but it would often be full of competitors... and perhaps a lot of mud
-- the outermost track is the longest path around the track, but would be closest to the cheers of the fans (who may be offering up apples)

-- the player must move the exact number of spaces as the die chosen. They must avoid occupying the same space as other players as they move, which may cause some to change lanes as they move.
-- however, if it is unavoidable, a collision occurs. each of the two players roll a die. Player with the higher roll remains in his space, the other player moves to an empty space behind.


The idea of using 3 tracks seems a plausible idea. One with more apples (longest), one with more mud (shortets) and one with a mixture of apples/mud (the in between). I'm not sure about the re-rolling dice to see who goes back 1 space as that may throw up some tantrums with young kids.

 
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Craig Somerton
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Have a look at some of the existing racing games to see what mechanisms they use.

Giro Galoppo is a solid kids horse racing game that uses a hand of cards with simultaneous selection. It's also a nasty game for adults.
 
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Jay Sears
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anomander64 wrote:
Have a look at some of the existing racing games to see what mechanisms they use.

Giro Galoppo is a solid kids horse racing game that uses a hand of cards with simultaneous selection. It's also a nasty game for adults.


thanks for that. Some of those mechanics in that game are also appear in an older horse game. I want to try and avoid copying so mines is a little different and adds educational value to it, hence the subtraction and addition.

The only other mechanic idea I can think of is using carrots to avoid mud.
 
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Craig Somerton
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I like the idea of multiple lanes with mud and apples, dispersed at various points along the track. The course could be wider in sections and narrower in others.

Perhaps mud subtracts from the dice values and apples gives you a second die to roll, which temporarily increases your movement?

Maybe changing lanes also subtracts from the value, so you have the decision to change lanes to avoid patches of mud or to move outward an grab a apple, but you have to weigh-up the cost and return.

Perhaps you can't land on another horse at all, so you need to manoeuvre around it using the available value.
 
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Jay Sears
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anomander64 wrote:
I like the idea of multiple lanes with mud and apples, dispersed at various points along the track. The course could be wider in sections and narrower in others.

Perhaps mud subtracts from the dice values and apples gives you a second die to roll, which temporarily increases your movement?

Maybe changing lanes also subtracts from the value, so you have the decision to change lanes to avoid patches of mud or to move outward an grab a apple, but you have to weigh-up the cost and return.

Perhaps you can't land on another horse at all, so you need to manoeuvre around it using the available value.


I want to try and keep the subtraction and addition for apples and mud. I like the idea of a 2nd roll. Perhaps I can just implement this on a seperate segment on the track.

I have created a prorotype of the split track but struggling to find ways of bringing them all back together halway through to pick a different route. The track comes together near the end again. I think if kids are given too much choice that might confuse them, expecially 4 year olds. When you say the "available value" what exactly do you mean in mechanical sense?
 
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Craig Somerton
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JayProducer wrote:
I want to try and keep the subtraction and addition for apples and mud. I like the idea of a 2nd roll. Perhaps I can just implement this on a seperate segment on the track.

I have created a prorotype of the split track but struggling to find ways of bringing them all back together halway through to pick a different route. The track comes together near the end again. I think if kids are given too much choice that might confuse them, expecially 4 year olds. When you say the "available value" what exactly do you mean in mechanical sense?


I meant, you could have a track that is 2 spaces wide and expands to 3 spaces in places before narrowing back to along the lines of a racetrack like this (from Formula E)


Use one die for movement, but patches of mud will subtract 1 from your dice roll (available movement) or may stop your horse completely?

You could change lanes to avoid the mud but it costs 1 point to move left or right rather than straight ahead (orthogonal rather than diagonal movement).

You could also put apples and/or carrots along the track, which you pick-up and keep for use later (tokens). One of the decision points is do you move out of your way to pick-up a carrot or apple that may help you later, or do you just keep going?

Playing a carrot on your turn allows you to add 2 to your dice roll.

Playing an apple allows you to roll 2 dice for movement instead of just 1.

Alternatively, you could make custom dice that have more constrained movement values, i.e. 1-3 rather than 1-6 - as a means to stop one person racing ahead too far.

There are loads of existing race games to research and modify for your game.

Just throwing some ideas out there - take or leave whichever you don't like.
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Jay Sears
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Some good suggestions. Will play test what I have, see what needs tweaked and create more prototypes to try out those ideas.
 
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John Breckenridge
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If the dice are marked with numerals instead of pips, rolling two of them means doing addition anyway.
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Jay Sears
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jbrecken wrote:
If the dice are marked with numerals instead of pips, rolling two of them means doing addition anyway.


True. The board might be too small for 2 dces but will play test all suggestions given.
 
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Jay Sears
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Let me know which summary of ideas you feel are more exciting for a kid:

Having carrot icons on the board, when a player lands on one they collect a carrot. The outcome of having one can be either:

- Carrot = Extra roll of 1 dice
- Carrot = You avoid mud by moving one space forward
- Carrot = Allows you to move onto another track (if able to do so)
- Carrot = Allows you to add 2 to your dice count.
- Carrot = If you land on a space already occupied it allows you to move forward one space onto an unoccupied space, if the other space in fromt is also occupied then the horse occupying the space you are on is moved back 1.

- Use 2 dices to allow addition counting. Keep values of those dices 1-3.

Still want to keep that if you land on an apple you add on x amount to your dice amount. If you lamd on mud you subtract x amount from your dice total.

Let me know your thoughts please.

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Jay Sears
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Here I did some play testing with my daughter and she much prefers the 3 track split and but gets a little confused with the choices offered from the carrot. However I will allow flexibility with this rule so younger players can benefit. I took a picture of us reaching the final stretch and testing it out. It of course looks nothing like a horse track as this was a fun DIY version.



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Sturv Tafvherd
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some more ideas, not necessarily related or compatible ...

put numbers on the spots on your track. If nothing else, it's the one "educational" thing about snakes and ladders. You can practice addition by adding the value of your die to the spot your token is on, and then demonstrate you got the right sum by counting up and moving your token along the track.

carrots! I love that idea. Focus it on this concept: "Your horse follows your directions because you'll feed it carrots."

Custom dice to produce "1,2,3" ... I've got mixed feelings. Are we really limiting our addition practice to just that small range? I'd be more interested in using regular six sided dice with values from 1 to 6, and adding two dice of that type together... and adjust the length of the race to help keep the race "long enough"

Despite it potentially having a larger footprint, I'd rather use a circular track. Or, maybe arrange the turns so that there it allows for a loop (connecting the start and finish). Reason: you can extend the length of the race past one loop around the track.... which can also lead to a lesson on multiples.
 
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Michael Brettell
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Stormtower wrote:

Despite it potentially having a larger footprint, I'd rather use a circular track. Or, maybe arrange the turns so that there it allows for a loop (connecting the start and finish). Reason: you can extend the length of the race past one loop around the track.... which can also lead to a lesson on multiples.


Plus a circular track is more realistic for a horse race!
 
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Jay Sears
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Stormtower wrote:
some more ideas, not necessarily related or compatible ...

put numbers on the spots on your track. If nothing else, it's the one "educational" thing about snakes and ladders. You can practice addition by adding the value of your die to the spot your token is on, and then demonstrate you got the right sum by counting up and moving your token along the track.

carrots! I love that idea. Focus it on this concept: "Your horse follows your directions because you'll feed it carrots."

Custom dice to produce "1,2,3" ... I've got mixed feelings. Are we really limiting our addition practice to just that small range? I'd be more interested in using regular six sided dice with values from 1 to 6, and adding two dice of that type together... and adjust the length of the race to help keep the race "long enough"

Despite it potentially having a larger footprint, I'd rather use a circular track. Or, maybe arrange the turns so that there it allows for a loop (connecting the start and finish). Reason: you can extend the length of the race past one loop around the track.... which can also lead to a lesson on multiples.


Thanks for this. After play testing it, here are my points:

- using the 1,2,3 Dice range works well. Using the 1-6 ended the game early. I agree with what you say though. The outer track you use x3 dice, middle x1 dice and the inner track 1 dice so changing to a 1-6 dice means there's an advantage for being in the inner lane. The only way of introducing the 1-6 dice is by adding an extension to the board to make it twice as big to allow the 1-6 dice to be used.

- I will certainly put the +2 and -2 on the apple and mud icons, and create an extension with +3/-3 and +4/-4 on the apple and mud.

- Not sure what you mean exactly on the carrot concept?

- The extension would allow the loop mid way through.
 
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Jay Sears
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brettellmd wrote:
Stormtower wrote:

Despite it potentially having a larger footprint, I'd rather use a circular track. Or, maybe arrange the turns so that there it allows for a loop (connecting the start and finish). Reason: you can extend the length of the race past one loop around the track.... which can also lead to a lesson on multiples.


Plus a circular track is more realistic for a horse race!


Not all race tracks are circular
 
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