Wheat from the Chaff

Thoughts on game design and puzzle crafting.
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Protospiel Chicago 2019: Saturday

Jonathan Chaffer
United States
Grand Rapids
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Grand Rapids Area Boardgamers
Microbadge: Filler fanMicrobadge: LudologistMicrobadge: University of MichiganMicrobadge: Protospiel AlumniMicrobadge: I play with Black!
From gallery of JonBob

Vortex Poker by Steven Vesci
This design is for the Button Shy "18 identical cards" challenge. While none of the games I've seen with this constraint are amazing, it really impresses me that anyone has made an interesting system at all! Steven's entry gets at some of the bluffing elements of traditional poker by using the corners of cards to represent suits. We spent a while discussing ways to incorporate betting or folding without adding components.

19m contributed

Exposition Fantastique by Eric Jome
An iteration of a design I first played in Chelsea. Components had been changed to attempt a smaller footprint and more legibility. This remains a solid efficiency game, with an area control element that works well even though it's not to my taste.

103m contributed

Potion Panic by Jordan Davenport
From gallery of JonBob

A filler-weight game, which was very chaotic at 6 players. I believe I would like it way more at around 3. There's a fair amount of take-that here. I recommended that the design push toward more interaction with the center visible stacks rather than the face-down draw pile, as this seems to be the distinguisher for the game.

For a pretty simple prototype, the graphic design was really well thought out.

69m contributed

The Great Feast by Daniel Sturgeon
From gallery of JonBob

A real-time cooperative game. Very little in the way of decision-making, and mostly just a speed and perception exercise. Since that's the nature of the game, we talked about leaning into that and away from cards with more complicated effects. A simplified timing system will clean it up a lot.

55m contributed

Dice Dancer Marathon by Maxine Ekl
From gallery of JonBob

This was in an early concept stage. We talked about various ways to tie a dance competition theme into mechanisms. The idea centers around using dice as pawns to move, with movement restrictions based on the face (reminiscent of Quantum). I think that there is a lot of potential in scoring for completing movement patterns on the dance floor.

The prototype included a grin-inducing spotlight component involving some puppeteering and an acetate overlay.

47m contributed

Pig Pencils by Jonathan Chaffer
Trotted out my roll-and-write. It is functioning better with special symbols being something players can expend at whim, rather than shuffled into the deck. Maxine had a fantastic (and obvious in retrospect) suggestion for how to handle the mechanics of scoring.

60m x 3 players = 180m consumed

Once Upon a Story Game by Carl Klutzke
Carl is working on a riff on Once Upon a Time, converting it into a cooperative game (surprise, surprise!). I like the idea of spinning a yard to drive the narrative toward hidden words that you have and that you share with neighbors, so that they will say the words you need. We charged through a few different ruleset ideas in a short time. I think I will really like this puzzle once it comes together.

40m contributed

RPSpionage by Jonathan Chaffer
My 18-card game was requested so I brought it out. One small rule tweak, making card exchanges mandatory instead of optional. A definite improvement.

15m x 4 players = 60m consumed

Totally Pirate Game with Dice by Scott Starkey
From gallery of JonBob

Unlike me, Scott does not believe in designing title-first.

A cooperative dice-placement game. He had made adjustments since the previous test this weekend, letting us roll simultaneously and decide turn order afterward, and they skewed the difficulty to the easy end. The primary suggestion was to keep the turn order choice, but to do so before dice are rolled.

The island-scouting mechanism was delightful in concept and I hope he's able to realize it fully.

73m contributed

Herd Instinct by Troy Pichelman
From gallery of JonBob

In my opinion, this is a 2-player abstract that we were playing with four players. Everything works well except for the problems that come along with the player count: difficulty to set up moves for yourself, and kingmaking. The designer suggested that 4 players should play in partners, which seems like a crucial change.

41m contributed

Second Babel by Eric Jome
Another go at the cooperative dexterity exercise. Apparently the highest score that Eric has recorded so far.

17m contributed

Voices by Valerie Schrag and Nick Schrag
From gallery of JonBob

A 2-player game about schizophrenia. While abstract, it is an interesting take and could be a conversation-starter. I liked the bluffing aspect.

39m contributed

Oort by Mark Gerrits
Presented by Alex Yeager
From gallery of JonBob

I observed this 2-player spatial game which is minimalist in components. The decisions and gameplay are very good. Some will be frustrated by adjudicating the continuous elements. This game isn't for them.


16m contributed

On Second Thought by Jonathan Chaffer

Tried my trivia game with 3 players. It's a little less interesting than 4+ but still worked with the newer board. We talked through point scaling on the board and possible player incentives.

32m x 3 players = 96m consumed

Hacker 101 by Valerie Schrag and Nick Schrag
From gallery of JonBob

Another game with 18 identical cards, designed the previous night. It's a speed game using some simple binary. It works and my only suggestion was to make the speed task even harder with an additional level of pointer dereferencing.

8m contributed

527m contributed
336m consumed
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