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catty_ big
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I'm relatively new to board and card game design, having produced only one other gam,e previously. I mostly design tabletop RPGs, and the current conventional wisdom in RPG design is to decide what sort of gameplay you want and design towards that goal. I'm not sure to what extent this applies to board game design also, but I'll shoot my ideas out anyway and see what folks feel about them.

Ok, so I'm working on a set-building card game, called Pingo! One of the problems with the game in its current form is the fact that in most games I've played so far (I've played several games on a table with three players' hands spread out face up. Not completely scientific but I got a good idea of how the game plays out) most players start out with their Pingo already 60-65% complete. This isn't necessarily a problem of course, but it means that players end up simply drawing and discarding until they get their remaining four or five stars. What I ideally want is a situation where players have a number of stars in the right places but face the choice of having to discard ones they already have, which doesn't seem to be happening currently.

There are several things I have in mind that could potentially fix this (if indeed it needs fixing - other folks may not see it as a problem), as follows:
1. Increase the number of both noughts and crosses.
2. Have some cards with only one star instead of two. (I've prepared an alternative deck with a group of ones replacing two lots of six two-star cards, four with four crosses and eight with noughts. In addition, possibly a set of four three-star cards with two crosses on each.
3. Some of the two-star cards have one outline star instead of a filled one, with the effect that if you use that star to make your Pingo, there can be no other stars in that position. Forbidding overlap was suggested by someone in an FB group, but I thought (and still think) that that would be unworkable since, although each card in the deck has a unique pattern, each star is replicated eight times on the grid.
4. Sort of connected to the above, another idea is to have 24 patterns duplicated once each, rather than the current 48 unique patterns.
5. A mixture of any or all of the above.

As I mentioned , I have prepared an alternative deck - several decks in fact - which incorporate some of the above changes. However, I'd like to run a number of playtests with the present deck so that a consensus can emerge about what should be tried first in order to solve the problem (if there is seen to be one).
 
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catty_ big
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Someone in the FB group made these comments:
'I was assuming that cards with more stars would also have more crosses, which might be an interesting balancing act for players'.

Some cards with 0 stars but some noughts could exist'.
This is the relevant part of my reply:
'[I] originally had cards with 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1 stars, but it didn't work bc six was too many, and I didn't have enough crosses on the cards with higher numbers of stars for acquiring or retaining them to represent much of a risk. I'll go ahead and create a set of 0 star cards'.
 
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Benj Christensen
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How many cards do they start with? What's the average number of cards needed for a set?

I'm wondering if you have the players start with less cards if that would help.

The other points you have are valid and I think adding a few unusable cards in might help too, but you run the risk of stacking the deck too far the other direction.

What if instead of drawing cards players had to draft from a collective pool?

That way they'd be forced to act based on what's in front of them instead of random draws. Maybe they take a card they might not want but is what's availabile. Which could make them question their strategy if later the cards available play better with that mismatched card.
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catty_ big
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Hey there. Thanks for your comments.

Quote:
How many cards do they start with? What's the average number of cards needed for a set?

They start with a hand of seven cards and, from my games with three hypothetical players (it's just occurred to me that with four or more players you might get a very different game, but anyway) players usually need all seven cards fore a Pingo.

Quote:
I'm wondering if you have the players start with less cards if that would help. [...] What if instead of drawing cards players had to draft from a collective pool? That way they'd be forced to act based on what's in front of them instead of random draws.

Collective pool, yes, this is definitely an idea worth exploring. I'm thinking something like a pool of three cards that everyone can use to form their Pingo, as in Poker.

Quote:
[a]dding a few unusable cards in might help too, but you run the risk of stacking the deck too far the other direction.

This is a very clear risk. With this sort of game there's the potential to go from too easy to virtually impossible with a relatively small number of tweaks.

Quote:
Maybe they take a card they might not want but is what's availabile. Which could make them question their strategy if later the cards available play better with that mismatched card.

Yes, this is EXACTLY what I want to happen, for players to have four or five usable cards but face the dilemma of keeping them or risking them to get something better but which might not turn out to be better after all, by which time it's too late and they're stuck with the ones they've drawn.
 
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catty_ big
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Adding to point 3 in my previous post: it could be necessary for players to have at least one outline star in their Pingo (some of which could contain noughts), and three of them, say, could wipe out any and all noughts, which would provide a powerful incentive to collect them, at the opportunity cost of collecting other cards which could be more desirable in terms of building a Pingo.
 
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