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Subject: [WIP] Rescue the King: a chess-themed flicking game for the 2p contest rss

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Tanner Griffin
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I have made and tested my design for the 2014 2-Player contest. I would like others' input and perhaps some testing if anyone is interested.



This is Rescue the King. It's a sort of capture-the-flag game with a bit of a chess basis and a whole lot of flicking. The premise is that your king has been captured by the opposing forces and you must go out and rescue him.

I'll admit, it doesn't feel very chess-like in play, but the theme fits the game quite well overall, I think. I designed it initially to just be a game of capture the flag with abstract pieces you flick around, but this direction came out of nowhere and seemed really good.

Anyway, let me explain
The Rules

Objective

You must return your king back to his throne, which is a cardsticker that your pieces start on around.


The throne setup with 2d pieces. Your opponent's king is on a throne behind your pieces, set up sort of like in Chess. The throne is a sticker that goes on the table, or a piece of tape.

Whoever can get his or her own king back to the throne first wins the game.

How does it work?

On your turn, you choose one piece to flick. You must get your pieces to hit the king, because the king can't move by itself. As the game progresses, you need to make a balance between trying to get your own king back and trying to block your opponent's king.

If you ever flick a piece off the table, your opponent puts it back on wherever he or she chooses. This prevents overpowered shots just to try to get to the throne as soon as you can. It also means that if you hit your opponent's king off the table, you lose, because it goes back on wherever, so it can go straight to the throne.

Each type of piece has its own special power, and each is useful in its own way, and at its own time.

The Pieces

Pawn

Pawns' ability makes them very good to use at the beginning of the game. You may move two pawns on your turn, whereas, with other pieces, you can only move one. This makes it very useful and likely to get your pawns out there very quickly.

Rook

Also useful in the beginning, and also very useful at the end, Rooks can be flicked twice. This is great for getting your pieces in position for knocking into other pieces (your king, for example), and also for getting your pieces up into the other player's face.

Bishop

Bishops are good in mid-game, when your throne is under attack. If you flick a bishop within one disc's width of an opposing piece (without touching the piece), you may send the opposing piece back to its starting position. People who are good with a bishop are very hard to attack well. This power does not work against kings.

Rules edit! The bishop is now completely changed.

It's good in the early game. If you flick a bishop into your own piece, you can then flick that piece once (if you hit more than one piece, just choose one). This way you can get your pieces in better position before flicking with them. They work great in combination with pawns in the early and very late game. Though they may not seem like the most powerful piece, it's very useful to be able to move your pawns a long distance before flicking them. This ability does not work on the king.

Knight

Also useful mid-game are the knights, who can be flicked many times depending on what they hit. If you hit an opponent's piece with your knight, take an extra flick. Repeat this process until you don't hit any opposing pieces, or until you only hit ones you've already hit this turn. Very good for infiltrating the opponent's base, and for knocking opposing pieces out of the way though they are not very good at hitting your king. This power also does not work on the king.

Queen

The queen is either used entirely for offense or entirely for defense; seldom both. When you flick a queen into an opposing piece, you can then flick that opposing piece (except, of course, the king). This way you can either get a lot out of the way of your king's path home, or you can get the enemy away from your throne.


The end of a particularly offense-heavy game. White wins.

Special rules we've come up with during testing to help alleviate breakage:

1. As noted in the descriptions of the pieces, special effects do not work on the king. Bishops do not return the king to the starting space, knights cannot ricochet off the king and expect another move, and queens cannot flick the king after running into them.

2. If your king gets too close to the edge, you can move it in a little bit. That way your king doesn't just get stuck by the edge (it happens on accident more than you'd expect). About 3 inches (7.5 cm), or one good finger length ought to do it.


Components

I made my components three-dimensional, which I think is very fun. I hot glued my chess pieces on top of mini poker chips. However, it works well as just stickered chips (I tried it and it worked fine).

When I first made the three-dimensional pieces, I didn't glue it very well. Five or six pieces broke falling off the table, and a few in the box. I re-glued more than half the pieces. Make sure, if you do it this way, that you do a lot of glue, especially if they're hollow plastic pieces.

If you need tips on where to get good chips, I'd suggest going to Home Depot and getting a 1 1/4" dowel (for about $5) and cutting it into 1/4" pieces with a band or jig saw. I'm doing that soon with my nephew to make some other games. We tried that out the other day to see if it'd work, and they look and flick very good.

The game also needs the two throne cards. It is vital that you keep them flat on the table. If you're comfortable taping them down at the corners, that would probably be the best way to go about it. The cards are a bit big and get bent easily, so it messes with the endgame where you're trying to flick pieces back onto the throne.

I was thinking about printing the thrones on transparency. A local print shop here has transparency prints for less than a buck so I think I'll give it a shot. Plus, with all plastic, it ought to be easy to keep down.
See above - stickers.


Playtesting

If there's any interest, I'll post printable files for you to try out. I've played it with my wife a few times (bless her heart), an old friend, and my sister-in-law. Their game experience and interest ranges from anti-gamer to why-in-the-world-isn't-he-on-BGG, and they all found it a good game. I'd like some strangers' feedback, though. I would like anyone's input on what could make the game better. Currently, I'm a bit concerned about the bishop and queen being overpowered; could someone else please try this out and let me know?

Edit: Here are the stickers. Just print them out, cut them out, and stick them to discs of the right size. I have uploaded prints for sticking to nickels, 1-inch circular things (Crokinole discs, mini poker chips, wood dowels cut into discs, etc), and 1.5-inch circles (poker chips, washers, etc).


Anyway, please comment. I'm dying to know what people think.
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Eric L
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Looks fun. Wondering how long matches have lasted on average so far? What size table/playing surface you recommend? Also, If you think there is potential for more player expansion? I'd be interested in testing it out. Look forward to checking out the official rules.
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Tanner Griffin
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ericlosiewicz wrote:
Looks fun. Wondering how long matches have lasted on average so far? What size table/playing surface you recommend? Also, If you think there is potential for more player expansion? I'd be interested in testing it out. Look forward to checking out the official rules.

Matches have usually gone for around fifteen minutes, but could probably be longer with more skilled players who know what they're doing with a bishop or queen.

We've also only played it on small kitchen tables, but I want to try it on bigger and smaller surfaces. The one in the pictures is about 3'x4'. Not sure exactly what the dimensions are there but it's about that and it works extremely well. My parents and in-laws both have gigantic dining room tables, so Sunday will probably involve something with that.

I also thought about more players, but it seemed difficult as you have to rescue your own king; would you put it in a triangle and rescue him from the player to your left? The only way I can think around this is making it so the king in your circle is actually your own, and the goal of a three-player game is to capture either opponent's king onto your throne. Also, 3p could suffer from major teaming up and kingmaking issues.
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Andrew Tullsen
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Potentially something like in a 3 player game you would go after the person on your left?
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Jeremy Peet
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I really like where this is going Tanner, I will be following along here!
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Tanner Griffin
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Andrew,

I think that's possibly a good way to do it, but there are a few problems I thought of for it.

One, it's hard to make it even between 3 players based on distance. One player will have farther to go to get their king back.

A=============B
|.............|
|.............|
|.............|
|.............|
|======C======|

You could set up the table this way, but it's still probably a big difference in distance.

However, it could be really fun to play that way because of the balance you'd have to make between offense and defense.

But, because it's for the 2p contest, I'm going to focus on the 2p version for now.

One bug I want to fix is the fact that if you get your king too close to the edge, you've got serious problems. Any ideas on how to fix that?
 
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Andrew Tullsen
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Circular table?
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Andrew Tullsen
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Friff14 wrote:

One bug I want to fix is the fact that if you get your king too close to the edge, you've got serious problems. Any ideas on how to fix that?

I see an even bigger issue - I want to push your king to the very edge so I can make sure it's hard for you to hit him.

Maybe if you knock your own king off the edge, he goes back to the opponent's throne.

And if your opponent knocks your king off, you win.
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Jeremy Peet
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You mentioned that you had some concerns about the bishop and queen being overpowered...

Just a quick read through the descriptions and the knight actually caught my eye as potentially being over powered because of multiple flicks. What happens if you hit your own pieces with the knight? Could there be a penalty for hitting your own king?

I think the bishop has balance in that you must get close but not hit an opposing piece, that can be a challenging thing to do. What the pieces are made of and what surface you are playing on could effect this dramatically.

An idea for the queen: because in the game of chess the queen has the ability to move anywhere...If you choose to move the queen on your turn you can either place it anywhere on the playing surface OR flick with it. If you go with this I would make the knight have the same special power as the current queen ability, I think it is stronger than the current knight ability.

An idea for the rook: I am no expert on chess but was it the rook that could "castle"? How about having an option for a rook to trade places with any pawn in play as a secondary option. Not sure if it would over power it but I thought it might be interesting.

Have you had any trouble with the bases being moved by the components? My initial thought was that they might get forced around through gameplay.

Just a few things to think about...

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Tanner Griffin
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That's pretty much how it goes for that. It's a huge risk to take so nobody tries pushing your king to the edge. If you can replace it anywhere, just place it on the throne.

I was thinking maybe being able to bring your own pieces (or at least just the king) one finger length in from the edge if you want to.

Also, circular tables would work great; I just don't know many people who have them.
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Tanner Griffin
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The bases get moved, yes. That's the hardest part so far for me. Would printing on transparency make that easier? Or taping it down is another option, but you'd want that card laminated or plastic so it didn't get damaged over repeated tapings.
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Jeremy Peet
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Friff14 wrote:
The bases get moved, yes. That's the hardest part so far for me. Would printing on transparency make that easier? Or taping it down is another option, but you'd want that card laminated or plastic so it didn't get damaged over repeated tapings.

Hitting the edge of any kind of base is going to be an ongoing issue, it will likely cause a ricochet effect if the base is fixed solid. Heavy poker chips have some weight behind them and have squared edges, wood discs with rounded edges may flip up and over the edge better. You definitely need to make the base as thin and as sturdy as possible. Laminating may be a good option but the edges are thinner than the middle. Transparency may work but tape may be required. Sheet metal with a thin graphic taped to it may work but is potentially more difficult to fabricate.

If you have any Hugo's Magic tape it may work to "stick" the material to the table (put a couple strips under the base).

You may have to redesign the entire base to something else, perhaps just a simple wooden disc or poker chip that the king sits on (the rest of the pieces could simply touch the disc to be in the base).

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Andrew Tullsen
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Make a "throne" disc that the king has to get within 1 disc width of?
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Tanner Griffin
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Howitzer_120mm wrote:
Make a "throne" disc that the king has to get within 1 disc width of?

Great idea. Jeremy said something similar. I think maybe just a disc that you need to hit. It's hard enough getting something withing 1 disc width as it is, but when you add flicking something else into it as well, that'd be really difficult. It also might make for something interesting, where you can move the throne you're protecting to get it further away from the king.

Jeremy, when you made Grand Flix with the steel washers, you said they didn't move much...would that make it harder to move?
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Jeremy Peet
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Yeah, I used 1 1/2" steel fender washers. They work great for deflecting plastic discs but may not work so well for heavier wood discs or clay poker chips (especially with chess pieces attached). I would suggest the larger clay poker chips for the king base. With flicking dex games such as this it is all about the materials you use. I did a lot of experimenting with materials when I made the Grand Flix.
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Tanner Griffin
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Germflinger wrote:
Yeah, I used 1 1/2" steel fender washers. They work great for deflecting plastic discs but may not work so well for heavier wood discs or clay poker chips (especially with chess pieces attached). I would suggest the larger clay poker chips for the king base. With flicking dex games such as this it is all about the materials you use. I did a lot of experimenting with materials when I made the Grand Flix.

I made a second set of it recently, using a mini chess set and some discs from a thrifted Othello set. These are much lighter and flick pretty well too. I think those might be a pretty good option, with a metal washer for the throne.

OR, you could glue a couple of discs together for the throne to make it heavy.
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Jeremy Peet
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How's this project going? Any new developments?

One thing I wanted to add earlier is that choosing materials that are easier to find (standard gaming materials such as wood discs and poker chips) and affordable may make the game more accessible to play testing. However, metal washers are heavy, hold up well, are easily sticker-able, and can be epoxied together to make them even more substantial.
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Tanner Griffin
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Germflinger wrote:
How's this project going? Any new developments?

One thing I wanted to add earlier is that choosing materials that are easier to find (standard gaming materials such as wood discs and poker chips) and affordable may make the game more accessible to play testing. However, metal washers are heavy, hold up well, are easily sticker-able, and can be epoxied together to make them even more substantial.

I've only had one chance to test it recently, and we put the king on a penny. We did it with the lighter set and the penny didn't move at all. However, I bet the heavier set would easily move the penny.

The taping idea will work well with the penny, though. If you tape the penny down, it will make a good stable throne. Being able to move the throne would be a big problem, it turns out.

I plan on making a washer version soon, including a washer throne. I'll post about that when I get it done.
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I'd likely opt for marked crockinole pieces, rather than worrying about gluing chess pieces on.

I am curious what size of board/table is considered most reasonable?
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Tanner Griffin
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Talisinbear wrote:
I'd likely opt for marked crockinole pieces, rather than worrying about gluing chess pieces on.

I am curious what size of board/table is considered most reasonable?

I just made files for stickering pieces. I made them nickel-sized, for those of us who don't have much ready access to good Crokinole discs, but I'm planning on resizing it to .95-inch and 1.4-inch so they can be stuck to Crokinole discs and poker chips. I'll post them soon.

EDIT: Posted!

Nickels
.95-inch
1.4-inch

/EDIT


(The rough draft of this game was actually made using 1" round glass stones, but after they fell on the floor a few times and made really scary glass noises, I decided to go for poker chips. Then I thought of the chess pieces idea, which, honestly, is a bit overrated because it throws off the balance a lot, especially if you have light bases.)

And we have only really played it at a 4'x3' table, but I'm hoping to try it on some other sizes too (4' round table, our 18"x24" butcher block, and some others). I have played it on a table with very-rounded corners, and it worked well there too. It seemed more fun when it was more cramped.

Also, I was considering making terrain for it. Does anyone have any ideas on what you could do with terrain? I like making terrain that does things like kill your piece if you hit it, but, of course, there is no death for pieces in this game (it could send them back to their home throne though, I guess). Or there could just be terrain to get in the way. I can't think of any other terrain ideas - any suggestions?

Last thing - I solved the problem we were having with the throne. All you need to do is put a sticker of any kind on the table. If you don't have any stickers, masking tape works. Very simple, doesn't move, doesn't get in the way. When I post the files, I'll include a few thrones so you can just print it on sticker paper and cut them out for use. All you really need is about a 1" square and it makes for a great throne.
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Tanner Griffin
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Two things I want to bring up in this post. First, I tried it with nickels and it works really well. As in, I can't believe I've never made a flicking game with nickels before. (of course, it is 5x more expensive than pennies, but really, I think the size difference is a big deal)

I also wanted to post a little strategy advice.

First, don't rely on your pawns. They are very powerful in the early game, but when you're trying to get your king back using only pawns, it gets very frustrating because it's just hard to set yourself up right. However, when using rooks in that stage, it's a lot easier. But when your opponents come in with their rooks, if your pawns are set up right, it can make for some really good defense.

Second, if you're in a tight spot, knights are really good. Get them into the middle of the arena because, just like in chess, that's where they perform best. And when your opponent starts getting their king back close to home, it's easy to make your knight get in the way. However, using them many times in a row really decreases their effectiveness, because everything is out of the way.

Third, don't forget about defense. If you've got infiltration, stop it. Set your bishop up so he can be used if the opponent's pieces get too close. Keep your queen nearby.

Anyway, has anyone tried it out? I really want to know what people think of it after play.
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Tanner Griffin
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All right, we changed the rules a little. I played this with my gamebreaker friend who really likes finding holes in games and exploiting them. I recorded a video of this, but I still have to upload it. Anyway, we changed a few things (see the Bishop change in the first post - it's actually a giant change, so seriously, check it out).



And I changed the initial layout so that the flaws Jayson pointed out aren't there anymore. One additional rule - you must flick pawns on your first two turns. When the video comes up, it will explain why.
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Daniel J Isom
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I love dexterity games, I'll keep this on my radar.
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Eric Etkin
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I'm using a similar suite of components for my PNP contest entry. Based on Andrew's recommendation, I picked up some 1.5" circles from

http://www.caseyswood.com

Including shipping, I picked up 500 of the "irregulars" for around 20 bucks. They're fantastic, and a great deal if you're inclined to buy bulk.
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Alex H
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I enjoyed it! It works great with trail mix and Munchies.
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