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Subject: [WIP] Flowchart Fighter rss

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Tim Fowers
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Hey guys, here is a new game I'm working on. Let me know what you think.

Flowchart Fighter is a two player micro game where you are both Robot fighters - Ulysses and Thaddeus

You are building the logical “brain” of your fighter during the game. This represents his training and combos. Plan ahead and predict your opponent to win.

Preparing cards: Print all 3 sheets - cardstock is what I've been using.

Rules:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1A4T1JOJHTeGJ64kdH1C93N34...

Print Pages:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7JUltQm3Y91SjljYmxTRkZ6blU...
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7JUltQm3Y91Q1BpVDRZMWprUWc...
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7JUltQm3Y91SWQwV3B6RmVFeEE...

It's a new mechanic, so let me know if anything is confusing. I wanted to try open development on this game, so I'm putting it in a couple contests here on BGG:
2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest
MicroMan Print and Play Contest

I have a few more fighters in the works, with new special moves. I'm considering Kickstarting it.

EDIT: new version - v2, removed overwriting. Game is now faster and more brutal. Make a bad loop and you're dead. Best of 5 matches is the standard way to play.
EDIT: new version v3 - there was a typo on Ulysses, too many 3s
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Weston Stapleton
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Hey Tim, cool idea opening up development for this one and congrats on Paperback and Wok Star (though i know Wok Star v2 has some frustrated backers right now). I did not recognize your name at first and saw the "this is a new mechanic" part of your entry; I was then fully prepared to put a mechanic noob in his place . . . but then I read through the rules and was proven wrong. Then I saw it was you, the designer of 2 games that both have very unique qualities and was duelly put in my place blush.

Anyways enough backstory, this game sounds very cool. Sort of a spatial awareness mix with action programming. The whole idea of creating a flowchart for your fighter is hilariously unique. Comments and questions after reading through the rules :

a) Was the Ken flowchart diagram on the last page your initial muse that gave birth to the game idea?

b) The higher=slower and lower=faster is obviously going to be a stumbling block at first, but I have a feeling it is unavoidable. I think it will work fine after a play or two, but may confuse players at first. You did a good job of specifically stating which does what in the rules though.

c) You move your token accordingly (Took Damage / Did Damage) after you take the negative effects (blocking, etc) into account right? Aka, if I do 3 damage but you block 4 damage I would move my token in the direction of "did no damage" (or its equivalent) instead of "did damage"

d) I imagine you have to stay in a 90 degree, side-by-side, grid-type placement area, correct? For example, if I have an outcome that points diagonally I cannot place a card at a 45 degree angle from there (in order to split it out in several more ways and perhaps make it easier to loop back into the main flow), can I? This is very hard to describe with text, so if you dont understand what I am asking I can make a quick diagram for you.

e) When you play a bluff, you are not actually playing a new card onto the play area. Would you be able to play a bluff and then an overwrite on the following turn? Or is playing that bluff considered a "card played"?

Thats about it. This is just from a straight read-through, I have not played the game . . . . but I surely plan to. It may not be till the end of this month though. Congrats on what sounds like a really interesting new mechanic. New characters are probably going to be a nightmare to balance, because not only do you have to balance damage and abilities, you will have to balance the spatial element as well to make sure there are no game breaking loops that can occur easily.
Good luck in the contest
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Maykel Santos Braz
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A very interesting idea. Congratulations.
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Tim Fowers
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Thanks man - really insightful feedback.

a) Ken Flowchart was definitely a muse for the project. I would make the game about that, but you know, copyrights.

b) Lower numbers being faster is tricky. Sirlin mentioned it was a big teachability problem with early versions of Yomi. Recently the cards said Speed -1 for faster. That is more clear on the math, but feels like it's penalty when you read it. What do you think?

c) Yeah resolve the big numbers before deciding where to go.

I wanted to have "taking damage on an arrow" as a power, since it would allow to have chip damage, 2 hit moves and focus moves from fighting games, BUT it was too confusing to have damage 'later' on the card. I am fiddling with the reverse "Healing" on arrow, which will be the theme of the Vampire Character I'm working on.

d)Yeah it all happens on a grid. Diagonals are a bit tricky, but people haven't had problems with it.

e) Good catch! What I'd like to happen is that Bluff card counts as "having played a card" BUT it introduces a situation where you have to declare whether you are going to play a card or not, and if you opponent is in the same situation, it might be to his advantage to wait till you declare.
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Craig C
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Looks like an interesting idea. My first thought was "you can't block a throw, per se, but you can counter one." Is there a way, like playing a Dodge, that you can mitigate throw damage?
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Tim Fowers
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There isn't a Tech Hit or something to counter throw damage - you just have to play something lower than or equal to it(since it loses ties) to out-speed it.

Tim
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Craig C
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Fubeca wrote:
There isn't a Tech Hit or something to counter throw damage - you just have to play something lower than or equal to it(since it loses ties) to out-speed it.

Tim


That makes sense, since you'd have to get yourself into a stable position before the throw's executed to avoid its effects in real life.

I've been toying with a fighting game idea myself (http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1157617/this-would-be-cool/p...) and I decided against drawing X cards per turn, because I couldn't make thematic sense in my head of how I'd want to jab or round kick, but not be able to because I didn't draw those cards this turn.

What's your thinking on how a random card draw each turn could be thematic, or is that a concern?
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Tim Fowers
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Good point.
I went with a hand of 3 specifically so you don't always have the perfect move to play against your opponent when he can't play a new card.
Also the nature of the game is that you can re-use a good card by directing yourself back toward it.
There are some thematic things too - like where you are off balance and unable to execute some moves.

BUT it got me thinking. Might be good to be able to pick one move from your deck to have in your starting hand, then shuffle and draw the rest.
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Tim Fowers
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Hey guys - new version uploaded. Overwriting was removed. Loop back to a card and you must play it. Some rounds can be REALLY fast if you point the wrong arrows at each other. It takes a few rounds to get used to it, but players are enjoying it more. It greatly simplified teaching the game as well.
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Matias Montes
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Just played a game with my wife today and got my ass handed to me 2-0 (didn't know you had changed the rules so we played to the best out of three).

Some first impressions:

* The game feels really unique. I had played action programing games before and the spatial element in FF adds a lot to it. Kudos
* There's the issue of speed/damage confussion mentioned above. It didn't happen to me, but I am a computer programmer who is used to math. My wife on the other hand only managed to completely understand it in her last few plays
* Corollary from the previous item, it is very luck-of-the-draw-ish. My wife had no idea what she was doing most of the time and still beat me really hard. The thing is a lot of times I just had a bad hand and played cards that did not make any sense. Like "she is forced to block this turn so I can either block 1, block 3 or dodge". That happened A LOT
* Some of the arrows are a little too wild. Like the 4 that can send you W, S or NE
* The decks are too small. Both games ended by me running out of cards to draw (and my wife had 1 card left). Our HP never went below 20.
* The problem I had with the low card count and the "wild" arrows is that if you get thrown out of your "circuit" there is not enough time (cards) to even make an attempt to recover.

Take all of the above with a grain of salt. One match is definitely not enough to make a solid opinion on the game. Most likely I am to blame of my bad performance rather than game balance. I can only assume that some of the impressions I had will be dismissed once I have a better understanding of the game strategy, but I thought I would share this first impressions any way.

An idea that occurred to me is that there is room for creating a solo variant by fighting a dummy fighter who will only draw and play the tile from the top of the deck (a la Carcassone) and scripting how he'll rotate it.

I'll experiment and let you know if there is something worth exploring into that idea
 
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Tim Fowers
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Thanks so much for playing it.

What do you think would be a good way to communicate speed changes? Should I show +1 -1? I could use a stopwatch or rabbit icon.

When you ran out of cards, had you been looping back into your old cards? It's tricky to loop without getting trapped.

Maybe I should emphasize playing multiple rounds for new players. It takes a bit to get the flow and loops, and to get more aware of what cards are in your opponent's deck.

I'm still playing around with the arrows - some are pretty wild, but may have a low chance of the wild direction happening. I'll probably reign it in a bit.
 
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Matias Montes
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Quote:
What do you think would be a good way to communicate speed changes? Should I show +1 -1? I could use a stopwatch or rabbit icon.


I am not entirely sure, because I had no troubles with it as it is right now. What I can say for sure is that I am not a big fan of icon language in games unless it is limited to very few symbols. Perhaps the border of the tile could have a special color o pattern in the direction the arrow is pointing?

Another thing that is really easy to miss is the "Fast" versus "Faster" abilities. I think we played the whole game using the "Fast" version when the arrow read "Faster". This could be solved by changing the name to something visually different like Rage or Dash.

Quote:
When you ran out of cards, had you been looping back into your old cards? It's tricky to loop without getting trapped.


I just noticed we played this wrong. I lost the round when I ran out of cards to draw instead of cards to play as stated in the rules. So there are actually 3 more cards for me to play which might make the whole difference.

Both games I tried to create a pattern that would iterate on itself but never managed to do so because I kept being thrown in random unexpected directions. Again, this is more likely bad moves on my part rather than a design error, so I'll play more games and revisit this issue once I get more practiced.
 
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Tim Fowers
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Updated the files. Tighter arrows and balanced them a bit. Higher res files too, should look better printing.
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Gary Dahl
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Very Cool Idea! The resolution of individual actions sounds a small bit like war, but I'm definitely looking forward to trying this out. I'm curious about whether playing a few cards each turn, instead of just one would break the game in your opinion. I'm thinking this might set the players up for thinking ahead about what their opponent is likely to play a bit better(?). Anyway, very cool sounding game. Great job!
 
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Celina
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We tried this out last week, and there's plenty of thinking about what your opponent might do with just playing the one card per turn. We had to be careful!

I like that the decks are different. When we started we thought they were the same.
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Matthew O'Malley
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Hi Tim!

This is the first time I've had a chance to play this since Tucson, so I tried it out a few times with other players and am back with notes.

1. One of the "4" cards from the Ulysses deck is missing its "U".

2. I personally prefer the solid black arrows, rather than the arrows as outlines with text over them. It looks less cluttered to me.

3. It might be clearer to me if the directional text (took damage, otherwise) were behind the arrows (near the flat end), and the alteration text (arrow effects like slow, fast) were in front of the arrows (at the point). Even if that means the text is smaller, that would be fine.

4. Also, the Can't Dodge and Can't Block are a bit confusing (when written as arrow text) as to whether it means you cannot play a dodge next, or your next action cannot be dodged. Maybe change the term to "Unblockable", rather than just using the block with a circle and line through it?

5. The Arrow Effects in general were difficult. Reflect & Spin Opponent in particular are confusing, because all of the other effects relate to the NEXT card, while those have an effect on the current card. I wonder if the ones that have an earlier effect could be displayed differently somehow?

6. The "slow" and "fast" are pretty complicated - I wonder if those could come in later decks? I understand you may want them there from the start, but it's hard to explain to new players.

7. I would add a heading "Play" or "Turns" in the paragraph after the "Setup" heading. Also, I would recommend mentioning as early as possible (in bullet item 2 after Setup, and in the first bullet after Resolving Cards) that lower numbers are faster and higher numbers are stronger. I think it makes everything come together thematically, which will help players remember the rules more easily.

Overall, my opponents enjoyed the game, but had a lot of difficulty understanding play - mostly having to do with arrow effects (they often had to look at the chart in the rules to figure out what the effects did, which took them out of the game).

We didn't have that problem playing in Tucson (because the arrow effects didn't exist yet), and we still had a really good time with the game. I wonder if the basic game set could have an even simpler set of fighters that had very few (or no) arrow effects, but just taught the basic game play.

You may be so familiar with the game by now that it seems too easy that way, but it's such a different idea that most players will get a good bit of play out of the core concept.

Hope these notes are helpful!
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Tim Fowers
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Great notes - lots to chew on. Yeah, I haven't really blind tested it, so the first game experience sounds rough. The mechanic itself is different enough that the keywords make it even harder to grock. Some responses:

Unblockable and undodgeable are functional, but really long words. Also hard to make icons for.

Here is a thought that came to me: what if each character has a custom die that they use as their token in the game. The die for Thaddeus has these sides:
Blank
Fast (-1)
Faster (-2)
Slow (+1)
Undodgeable
Damage x2

So as you receive an effect from the arrow, you turn the die to that side and place the token on the next space. This would help players remember status effects. Each character's deck would have a max of 5 status effect types, leaving a side for none (blank). To distinguish effects for the next move versus resolve now, I'd probably put a die icon next to any effect for the next move.

Previous versions, even at the beginning had status effects, but there are some new ones. Part of me things removing them would make it more elegant, but for now I'll try to make them easier to understand and track.

Thanks a ton for playing, especially this early.

Tim
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Matias Montes
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Hey!

Haven't checked this thread in a while.

I'll try the new version. And let you know.

Also, I really like the idea of using a die to track status. It is handy and provides a couple of interesting design constraints

1. A fighter can have at most 5 different statuses (important when designing new fighters)
2. An arrow can only affect your own status (important when designing new cards)

Regarding the rulebook, I think it would be a good idea to mention what the differences in fighting style Ulyses and Thadeus have (and any other fighter you might add later on). I realize Ulises is more of a slow brute and Thadeus is quicker but delivers less damage (in my mind, it's The Mountain versus The Viper from GoT) but to the first-timer, it might help when deciding a move to know what your character's strengths and weaknesses are as well as your opponent's.
 
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Alexander Okland
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I haven't yet played, so I may offer no input about how the game plays, but I have printed out and "constructed" it. Using the two blank squares from the third sheet, I crafted little tents for the next move markers out of one and hit point counters out of the other. So, everything needed to play, including the ability to track hit points, is included in the printouts.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.

EDIT: Here's a link to a photo of what I did. For the hit point counters, I cut one blank square into eight parts, four for each player, with values on both sides of the counters. I've displayed each side using the counters for both players in the photo. I chose the values to allow for quick and easy hit point tracking while being restricted to just the four counters (I felt that the counters would be too small to register at a glance if I decided them further.) per player. The values are paired 20 and 15, 10 and 5, and two counters with 2 and 1.
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3al1pnzG8rhUUY2dk1KTlowcU0/...
 
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