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Green Box of Games» Forums » Rules

Subject: Game idea: "Fawlty Towers" - strategic dexterity game (yeah, right...) rss

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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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I'll be posting my ideas for new Green Box games here to the forum first from now on, before they have been refined and tested enough to deserve being published on the website.

Fawlty Towers

A strategic deck building/set collection game where you build tall towers to get the cards you want. For 2-6(?) players.

Uses the cards and the cubes

Setup:
Shuffle the cards and place 4 columns of 5 cards each. The rest of the cards form a draw pile at the top of the columns.

Have the cubes ready at hand.

Play:
Stack cubes in order to pick cards from the 4 columns. To pick from the first row, just place a cube of the same colour as the card right on the table. To pick from the second row, you must place a cube of the same colour as the card you want on top of a tower including at least one cube of the same colour as the card below the one you want. And so forth. All players can build on all towers. The towers are not linked to specific columns.

So say you want the top/fifth card from a column, and this is red. The four other cards below include one yellow, two blues and a green. To get the red card, you must place a red cube onto a tower that already contains at least one yellow, two blue and one green cube, in any order. If no such tower exists you have no way of getting the red card this round.

If the tower falls, you get nothing.

When you take a card, move the other cards downwards in the same column, and add another at the top.

Scoring:
Point value of the cards collected.
+ Bonus for similar symbols equal to the square of the number of cards. So if you have 3 arrows thats 3x3=9. 4 wheels is 4x4=16.

Play until the deck is depleted.

Comments? Questions? Want to try it?
 
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Geir Atle Hegsvold
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Neat idea. Haven't tried it, but a few questions came to mind:
- How many cubes can a player place on his/her turn? One? As many as wanted but only one card can be taken?
- Can cubes be placed next to each other in the same tower, ie forming a broader base, or must cubes be placed on top of already placed cubes?
- How many towers can be built simultaneously?
- What happens to cubes in a fallen tower?
 
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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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Good questions!

Zodiac wrote:
Neat idea. Haven't tried it, but a few questions came to mind:
- How many cubes can a player place on his/her turn? One? As many as wanted but only one card can be taken?


One, I thought, but placing more might lead to more interesting strategies. But then maybe the players each have to have their own limited supply of cubes?

Zodiac wrote:

- Can cubes be placed next to each other in the same tower, ie forming a broader base, or must cubes be placed on top of already placed cubes?


Single stack is the best I think, they are supposed to fall after all.

Zodiac wrote:

- How many towers can be built simultaneously?


No limit, but starting a new tower limits you to selecting from the first row, so my guess is that there will rarely be more than 2-4 towers.

Zodiac wrote:

- What happens to cubes in a fallen tower?


They go back to the pool.
 
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Geir Atle Hegsvold
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Gwarv wrote:

Zodiac wrote:

- How many cubes can a player place on his/her turn? One? As many as wanted but only one card can be taken?


One, I thought, but placing more might lead to more interesting strategies. But then maybe the players each have to have their own limited supply of cubes?


Both could be interesting and should be play tested, but currently I'm leaning towards your initial idea about only 1 cube. Makes for very clean and streamlined rules.
Essentially:
1. Place 1 cube
2. Take 1 card (if able)

Gwarv wrote:

Zodiac wrote:

- Can cubes be placed next to each other in the same tower, ie forming a broader base, or must cubes be placed on top of already placed cubes?


Single stack is the best I think, they are supposed to fall after all.


Agreed. Increasing risk, ie more tension.

Gwarv wrote:

Zodiac wrote:

- How many towers can be built simultaneously?


No limit, but starting a new tower limits you to selecting from the first row, so my guess is that there will rarely be more than 2-4 towers.


Sounds reasonable.

Gwarv wrote:

Zodiac wrote:

- What happens to cubes in a fallen tower?


They go back to the pool.


That's what I assumed.
 
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Geir Atle Hegsvold
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I've play tested this a few times now and the rules as written does not incentivize building tall towers. Rater a multitude of low towers.
This is in large part due to the combination of the color matching restrictions and that cards are shifted down when refilling the card matrix, thus often resulting in mismatch between colors of already placed cubes and whatever card was shifted down.

I suggest the following adjustments:
- Only allow 1 tower pr card column
- When placing a cube, take any one card matching the cube's color from the corresponding column. The card taken can be at any level up to and including the tower level at which the cube was placed.

Ex:
Placing the first cube only allows you to take the card at the first level in that column. Cube and card color must match.

Empty spots in the card matrix are refilled as described in the original rules.

Placing the second cube on that tower allows you to take the card at the first OR second level, as long as the card and cube color matches.

And so on...

This forces the players to build tall, but still allows for flexible card picks.

What do you think?
 
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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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Thanks for playing and commenting! I also finally got this game play tested yesterday, and also made some adjustments. :-)

Limiting the number of towers is a good idea. We played with 4 towers maximum, and I also started the towers with one cube each of different colours, giving the first player(s) more options. Did not link the towers to columns, but that might work.

However, we did indeed build tall towers, up to 8 or 9 cubes, and found that one tower quickly got tall. The tower you build on doesn't need to exactly match the column you choose from, you just need to make sure all the cards you skip past are represented. So if the column goes red, blue, green, green, and you want the second green, you build on a tower containing all least one red, at least one blue and at least one green from before, in any order. So if the tower I green, green, yellow, blue, red, you can put a green cube on top of the red and get the second green card mentioned above.

We found that this usually always meant that building on the tallest tower was the most attractive, because this was likely the only tower to have all the colours represented. Several times we had situations like maybe only one tower included blue, so if you wanted to move past a blue card you had only one option.

Your suggestion of one tower per column, and only matching the floor will definitely make for a simpler game, and forces you to build tall, but I fear you will quickly get to a situation where all towers are 4-5 tall meaning you can easily claim any card on the table without worrying about any restrictions.

However, we found that the points system gave far too much value to collecting symbols, and the differences in the perceived value of a card was so great that there was rarely any competition in getting the most attractive card. This meant that with 4 players, we each ended up with 8 or 9 cards of one type, and the number values were almost irrelevant. It also meant that you could usually get a card you needed from the first or second row, which reduced the need to take risks by building on the tallest towers.

We tried to fix this by saying that you can collect all the cards below the one you build, so if you build to row 4, you get 4 cards. This made the game very much quicker, and gave everyone a great variation of symbols, but also made the game a lot more random. I don't think this is a variation I will recommend.

I believe the solution is simply to change the scoring bonuses: 5 points bonus for every set of 3 identical symbols. An additional 5 points for majority in each symbol. This increases the importance of the printed value, and means you should rather stretch for that 5 on row 4 in stead of safely claiming the ones and twos in the front.

Another thing: How did you handle the white and black cards?

I did not mention it in the original rules, but we played with both colours as wild (ie they can represent any colour). We felt there were maybe too many wild cards, making it too easy to match a column, so we experimented some with taking them out and maybe adding them at the bottom of the deck, so the game increases pace near the end.

One idea that came up was to have different rules for white and black. So the whites can be normal wilds, but the black are blockers. So you can claim them as wild cards, but you can not build past them. This provides an extra dynamic that you may not want to take a black card because that opens up the rest of the column for the other players. It was too late in the evening to test it, though :-)

We also tried 7 rows in each column, and I think that may work, especially in combination with the black blocking rule.
 
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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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Here are a few playtesting pictures!

Concentration is key, and a birds eye view helps a lot:


The tallest tower was 11 cubes high:


Testing with 3x7 cards:

 
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