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Subject: Spirama / Cat Chess {2014 PnP 2-player Contest} rss

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Roxanne Clark
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Spirama / Cat Chess


This little game came about when I saw a picture of an alien-looking game in a graphic novel entitled "The Arrival" by Shaun Tan. I wanted to produce an alien-looking game that we could use in our Sci-fi Role-plays just to add colour but genuinely could be played by the participants. Not only would it have to look weird but there could be no text involved and be easy to explain.

The board became a spiral (because it is a universal shape but has a satisfactory alien-look) and the pieces were kept limited to universal geometric shapes. Since it was obviously going to be a positioning game I came up with the idea of the players having a random card that gave them hidden goals.

Here is the card version (and therefore the PnP version) of what I came up with:



After a fairly intensive few days of play-testing (which increased the number of pieces from 8 to 9 and swapped a few shapes) I have now made it up in a more 3D shape (still only using cardboard layers) and crafted the pieces out of air-drying clay.



Should you be interested in trying it out the files are to be found in the database entry for Cat Chess.

The reason that I have put the second title up (Cat Chess) is that it occurs to me that the game is similar to the way in which cats shift their positions around when they are out and about in the neighbourhood in relation to each other's position (see Terry Pratchett's "The Unadulterated Cat"). Their goals in the game can be almost impossible to discern from the outside. The re-theme has only made a change to the cosmetic look of the board and some new tokens with the cat awake on one side and asleep on the other.



Cat Chess Files

One sheet of instructions,
One sheet of cards,
and one sheet with the tokens and board on it (designed to be printed onto label paper or card and then stuck to a foam or card backing but the tokens are exactly the size of a 2p piece for those who like to use coins instead.

Database entry: Cat Chess

Entered into the 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest Submission List

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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
Apart from the re-theme suggestion I have identified a couple of little niggles with the game that might need some work if anyone can help out:

Firstly I have suggested that the game could be played by more than 2 players but this has not yet really been tested

Secondly, if you have 2 fairly good players the rounds can be pretty close scoring and I am wondering if I need to make the goals tougher.
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
I should add too that this is a short game, each one only lasting 5-10 minutes depending on the players, that is why games are usually played best of 3 or 5.
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
New rules edit includes a note about solo play.
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Tanner Griffin
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
I'm excited to try this game. I think maybe it'd be easier to do two-sided chips/coins instead of the towers you have. I don't know why this isn't getting more publicity; it looks pretty good, and very abstract.
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
The towers were a personal instinct because I wanted it to be very 3D but you are quite right, turning a chit over would be a very practical way to do it and producing the labels wouldn't take me long. I could add them to the PnP pack as an alternative.

If I re-theme to cats I could just do their faces (and their bottoms!!!!) but I think I will still try to make cat 3-sided towers too.
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
I had a phone call from a friend who produces wonderful leather-work and we came up with the idea of producing the board out of leather and selling them with my clay pieces. Sounds cool! Even more impetus to get the rules tweaked.
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todd sanders
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
keep up the great work on this
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
I am very close to putting up the micro game version using the coin flipping idea (I am waiting to get the PC back after half term ends). My play testing meanwhile has been quite pleasing and my rule set is now pretty stable. I am hoping that once I put the micro version up I can ask for some fellow geeks to give it a go.

The cat version is waiting for me to come up with the art work - waiting for a suitably free day to devote to it, again after half term.
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Silly Syanide
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Gamer Growing poster child, or: Why all 4 year olds should get MAX (by Family Pastimes)
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE the idea of Cat Chess! I have never heard of cats' positioning before, and am fascinated with the idea. Would all the pieces have cats in different poses, then? I can't wait to see!

Another reason why I love the cat idea is that it might appeal to kids. I happen to have one. He's 4, and it's been a real challenge finding good games to play with him, there are ridiculously few good ones around for 4yos. Your game seems really good to me, it has a 'classic' feel to it. Regardless of whether or not it would be playable at as young as 4, have you ever, or would you, or do you have time to, consider making the cat chess version an easier kid's game (and entering it in the children's game category)? With easier goals, or perhaps two decks of goals, one parent deck and one kid deck, to even out the playing field? Would that be feasible?

I love the spiral board, reminds me of a Fibonacci spiral, so that would mean it's kind of perfect. :-) But the pieces seem a little bit big to me? It looks a bit crowded - and they obscure the beautiful board. I like the geometric shapes, they do make it futuristic/other-worldly. Your card backs are beautiful as well.

If you do do a cat chess version, would the board look like grass? I like the idea of having the cats' bottoms on the reverse side, but visually, wouldn't it be kind of breaking an illusion if some of the cats were upside down? Maybe the cats could be asleep on the reverse side?

I can't wait to see if you do a cat chess version & how you do with this game in the contest!
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
I like the asleep cats idea (the bottoms idea was just a joke ).

The board I had in mind (and the reason it is taking a while) is a mixture of pavement, grass sand etc each step with a different texture to make the different steps.

I have 9 different cat colours in mind:
Black
White
Black & White
Tortoiseshell (calico)
Siamese
Brown tabby
Ginger tabby
Rag doll (Long haired Siamese with a white dot on it's nose)
Patchwork (tortoiseshell with white parches)

I don't have a 4 year old to test this out on any more (my youngest is 9) but the lack of text means that we may not need separate decks to be honest. Perhaps you could give it a go for me when I finish the artwork.

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Weston Stapleton
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
Finally got a chance to sit down and read through this one. I have a soft spot for abstracts, but I do not like the movement rules to be convoluted, so this one looked right up my alley. I like the geometric shape theme just fine, but the whole idea of cat positioning and the back story of how you came up with the game idea is really awesome. Only one real question from the rules :

When a piece is misplaced/swapped because of another piece moving onto its space, are both pieces flipped copper side up? Or is it just the originally moved piece (the one that forced the other to move)?

I will be printing this one and testing it out with my wife. I will keep you posted.
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
Only the "activated" one is flipped, hence the rule that it cannot instantly simply be swapped back. The pieces could,of course, be swapped back in a subsiquent turn, by activating the other piece, if it hasn't been activated beforehand.

I look forward to your feedback.
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
A couple of Mini cards using the penny token idea, using up a page less printing. 2 Alternate designs just for choice.

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todd sanders
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
very nicely compact
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Weston Stapleton
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
My wife and I tested out the game this evening and it worked very good. Definitely will take a few more rounds to figure out how to get everything situated and protect your setup pieces. It came down to the last activation. My top goal was out of reach at this point (getting 3 pieces in a certain order), but all 3 of my other goals were set and it was my turn. I could just flip the last piece as the last activation, but I decided to swap it with its neighbor hoping it would mess up my wife's goals. Luckily its neighbor was the one I was supposed to match it up next to on my goal card (so swapping them had no negative effect for me). But I got really lucky because that last swap messed up 2 goals for my wife and the game ended in my favor 3 to 1. I told her the game is usually played in 3 or 4 rounds, but it was getting late so we decided to call it a night.
I enjoyed it a lot, and the strategy is really cool to try and figure out. My wife said she liked it because it made her brain do "thinky things" laugh. I guess there is only 1 additional question that I wanted to double check :

-The top goal (the one where you have to have them in a certain order). I know you can accomplish the goal by having it in that order starting from the outer edge of the spiral. But would it also score if you had it in that order starting from the center of the spiral?

PS: If you get the chance and are interested, please give My Contest Entry a read-through, and maybe a playtest if it seems to be a game you want to try. Geeks helping geeks.
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
I am thrilled that you tried it and liked it.

I am usually most interested in designing the sort of game where you have to do "thinky things" but not too far ahead.

In answer to your rules question the rule is that
"The direction in which the spiral path is read is up to the player."
so yes, you are right, the spiral can be followed from the outside in or the inside out.

I hope your future games are fun too. Thank you for your feedback.

I will take a look at "Beneficiary" next week.
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Steve Zagieboylo
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
This looks like the sort of game I like. Fast, easy, and subtly complex.

A little feedback on the instructions:

I found the watermark background to be distracting. If you could fade it a little more, I think it would be less so. You possibly might use one of the boards with texture as the source of the watermark, which would give it more value as a background but also reduce the sharp contrast that the lines make.

You used two different spellings of the word "fulfill," both of them incorrect. (One is in Variant and one in Solo Play.) I found no other grammar or spelling mistakes, and I usually do find them.

On the board and pieces sheet, you have:

Page 2 - 2 sets of the goal cards.

Perhaps change to the following.

Page 2 - Two sets of the goal cards.

Good luck! Keep me informed of the progress!
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
Thank you for your comments.

I have corrected the watermark by making it a little more transparent for now and the spelling has been corrected in the Variant section. Fulfil is the British spelling and so it has stayed in (even though in this case I must admit that the US spelling looks better).

I have also taken your advice on the page title.

Thanks again.
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Weston Stapleton
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
Took a picture this morning of my Spirama PnP that turned out very nice. It almost looks computer generated
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
A much better photo than mine, well done.
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Andy Choy
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
This game looks like the perfect complement to Quarto. I'm going to mount the Spirama board on the back of my travel Quarto board and make double sided tokens with 1 inch disk magnets!
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
My Cat Chess conversion has now taken place and I am quite pleased with it. With the deadline to the competition so close the graphics will all have to do for now anyway but I am confident enough from the play testing of the more abstract version that I need no other tweeks to the mechanics.
This is purely a cosmetic change, no rules changes have been made. Files to be found in the Cat Chess Dropbox link in the header box.

One of the cards showing the asleep pictures.
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Duane Rajkumar
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
I absolutely love the name Cat Chess. I'm a fan of Quarto (even though I'm bad at it) and I'll admit, this has my interest.
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Nate K
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Re: [WIP]{2014 PnP 2-player Contest} Spirama / Cat Chess
Kitties!
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